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2018 Toyota Tacoma: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 11/26/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a blue car parked in a field: 2018 Toyota Tacoma© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 2018 Toyota Tacoma

The 2018 Toyota Tacoma earns a respectable score in the competitive compact pickup truck class. It handles tricky terrain and tough hauling jobs with ease, and it has a strong predicted reliability rating. These traits help distinguish it as one of our class leaders.

Is the Toyota Tacoma a Good Truck?

Yes, the Toyota Tacoma is a good truck. It's one of the best off-roaders in the class, and it's comfortable and capable on pavement. Inside, you'll find supportive seats and easy-to-use technology. The Tacoma also boasts the highest predicted reliability rating in the segment. Still, some other trucks in the class can tow more and go further on each gallon of gas. Also, despite its user-friendly infotainment system, the Tacoma has a low-rent interior compared to its rivals.

Should I Buy the Toyota Tacoma?

The Tacoma makes a good choice for anyone who prioritizes off-roading. This Toyota makes a decent daily driver as well, but there are better choices. Rivals like the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Colorado have comfier interiors and deliver better fuel economy.

Compare the Tacoma, Ridgeline, and Colorado »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Tacoma?

The 2018 Toyota Tacoma is part of a generation that began with the 2016 model year. There haven’t been many notable changes since that redesign. The 2017 model offered the TRD Pro trim, which is an off-road-oriented trim, for the first time. For 2018, the Tacoma gained several standard driver assistance features as part of Toyota's Safety Sense package. These include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and pedestrian detection. Rear cross traffic alert is also available in the 2018 Tacoma, which is another first for this truck.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by buying a used vehicle, but be aware that you may miss out on some features by getting an older model. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma and 2017 Toyota Tacoma. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Tacoma »
We Did the Research for You: 33 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This overview uses applicable reviews and research from every year of the current generation, which includes the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Toyota Tacoma Cost?

The Tacoma’s base price is around $25,000. Only the Honda Ridgeline has a higher starting price. The Tacoma also has several higher trims, each increasing in price. The popular TRD Off-Road trim starts at around $36,000, and the TRD Pro – the highest trim in the lineup – starts at just over $41,000. That’s similar to the price of many rivals’ top trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Tacoma Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota Tacoma or Honda Ridgeline?

Despite having the highest starting price in the class, the Honda Ridgeline provides plenty of value compared to its rivals. It comes only as a Crew Cab model, and its price lines up closely with a V6-powered Tacoma Crew Cab. The Ridgeline's base engine is stronger and more fuel-efficient than the Tacoma's (the Ridgeline’s sole engine is a V6). The Honda also provides a smoother ride and a richer, more spacious interior.

On the other hand, the Ridgeline doesn't match the Tacoma in towing and payload capacity. The Toyota is also a superior off-roader by far. In short, the Ridgeline is likely a better pick if you off-road or haul things around only on occasion. Those who regularly tow, haul, or go off-roading should give the Tacoma a look.

Which Is Better: Toyota Tacoma or Chevrolet Colorado?

Despite its much lower starting price (roughly 20 percent less than the Tacoma), the Chevy Colorado earns nearly the same score in our rankings as the Toyota. The Chevy's stylish cabin features nicer materials than the Tacoma's, and it offers connectivity technology the Toyota doesn't.

The Toyota can haul more, but the Chevrolet can tow more. While the Colorado offers a turbodiesel powertrain option, the Tacoma does not. The Colorado also offers a highly capable ZR2 trim that can hang with the Tacoma out on the trails. Clearly, the Chevy is the better pick here.

Compare the Tacoma, Ridgeline, and Colorado »

Tacoma Performance

Tacoma Engine: 6 Cylinders > 4 Cylinders

You have two engine options in the Tacoma: a 159-horsepower four-cylinder base engine or a 278-horsepower V6. Both are fine for driving around town, but the V6’s extra power really comes in handy if you’re towing something or driving through the mountains (or anywhere else with steep grades).

Tacoma Gas Mileage: Disappointing Results

Fuel economy is not one of this Toyota’s strong suits. Several competitors get better gas mileage. With the base engine, the Tacoma gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The V6 gets 19/24 mpg city/highway.

You’ll spend about $100 more per year on gas with the Tacoma than with the Honda Ridgeline or Chevrolet Colorado.

Tacoma Ride and Handling: Predictably Suitable

Trucks aren’t known for their handling prowess, so you shouldn’t expect sporty handling from the Tacoma. That said, it does just fine on the highway and on winding roads, making it a solid commuting vehicle. Ride quality is firm but not unpleasant.

Tacoma Off-Road Performance

When outfitted with four-wheel drive, the Tacoma is more than capable of tackling an off-pavement course. The uplevel off-road models are true world-beaters that can handle any trail you can find. There are several off-road features that improve performance, particularly on the TRD trims.

Tacoma Towing Capacity

Though it’s not a class leader in towing capacity, the Tacoma has a higher maximum payload than many rivals. When properly equipped, this Toyota can haul up to 1,620 pounds and tow trailers as heavy as 6,800 pounds. That’s enough to tow some dirt bikes or ATVs without any issues.

Read more about performance »

Tacoma Interior

How Many People Does the Tacoma Seat?

The Tacoma seats four in Access Cab models and five in Double Cab models. The front seats are comfortable and roomy, and visibility is excellent. The rear seats are pretty cramped in the Access Cab, but adults can ride in the back in Double Cab models without much issue.

Tacoma and Car Seats

The Tacoma has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The lower anchors are set a little deep in the seat, but they are generally problem-free otherwise. The tether anchors, on the other hand, are hard to find and easily confused with other hardware.

Tacoma Interior Quality

The Tacoma has a well-built interior comprised of sturdy, high-quality materials. This results in a cabin that feels nice, but also one that you won’t be afraid to get dirty.

Tacoma Cargo Space

The Tacoma comes with either a 5- or 6-foot bed, depending on which cab and trim you choose. There are a number of useful bed features, including tie-down cleats and a locking, removable tailgate. The Tacoma’s bed is made of a tough composite material, so you won’t need a bed liner.

Tacoma Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Tacoma comes standard with Bluetooth, a USB port, Siri Eyes Free, and the Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touch screen. Available features include dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, satellite radio, a JBL premium sound system, wireless smartphone charging, a power moonroof, and an upgraded Entune system with a 7-inch touch screen.

The Tacoma’s features list has a lot to like. Its Entune infotainment system is easy to use, and this is the only truck that offers a built-in GoPro camera mount for recording your off-road escapades. You can also add premium features like a JBL audio system and wireless phone charging.

Read more about interior »

Tacoma Reliability

Is the Toyota Tacoma Reliable?

With a rating of 4.5 out of five, the Toyota Tacoma is expected to be more reliable than any other model in our compact pickup truck rankings.

Toyota Tacoma Warranty

The Tacoma’s warranty terms are typical for the class. Toyota backs the pickup with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Tacoma Safety

Tacoma Crash Test Results

The Toyota Tacoma received top scores in every crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS also noted that the Tacoma’s standard safety technology imparts a Superior level of front crash prevention. The Tacoma earned a four-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, it received five out of five stars in the NHTSA’s side crash test.

Tacoma Safety Features

Standard active safety features include a rearview camera and, new for 2018, the Toyota Safety Sense suite. Safety Sense includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and pedestrian detection. Available features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Tacoma Model Is Right for Me?

The Tacoma comes in six trims: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. A four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive are standard, while a V6 engine and four-wheel drive are optional. The cab and bed configurations include a four-seat Access Cab, a five-seat Double Cab, and a 5- or 6-foot bed.

Though it costs a bit more than most entry-level rivals, the Tacoma’s base trim is also better-equipped – particularly when it comes to driver assistance features. To get more features in the Tacoma, you’ll have to step up in trim level. Each trim offers few – if any – noteworthy option packages.

The SR and SR5 trims are the most affordable Tacomas. While the SR5 doesn’t have many extra features over the SR, it also doesn’t cost that much more. Therefore, the upgrade may be worthwhile if you want satellite radio or smartphone navigation integrated into the infotainment screen. Getting more luxurious features like leather upholstery and a premium audio system requires stepping up to the Limited, which is a five-figure price increase over the SR5. It probably isn’t worth the added cost for most buyers.

The off-road trims will cost you a fair bit more than the lower trims, but they’re probably worth the money if you want heavy-duty features like more resilient shocks, a more durable suspension, skid plates, and a locking rear differential.

Toyota Tacoma SR

The Tacoma SR has a base price of $25,200. Standard features include hardware on the windshield to hold a GoPro camera, Bluetooth, a USB port, Siri Eyes Free, the Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touch screen, a rearview camera, and the Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assistance features.

Toyota Tacoma SR5

The Tacoma SR5 has a starting price of $26,975. In addition to the SR’s features, the SR5 comes with smartphone navigation integration, satellite radio, and remote keyless entry.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

The Tacoma TRD Off-Road trim starts at $36,115. The TRD Off-Road comes with wireless smartphone charging, HD Radio, and the upgraded Entune system with a 7-inch touch screen.

This trim is geared toward off-roading. It comes with skid plates, an electronic locking rear differential, an off-road suspension with Bilstein shocks, and a Terrain Select system.

Toyota Tacoma Limited

The Tacoma Limited has a starting price of $40,215. The Limited comes with a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a premium JBL audio system, leather upholstery, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The Tacoma TRD Pro is the highest trim. It starts at $41,520. This trim is a sort of cross between the TRD Off-Road and the Limited trims. It’s an excellent off-roader with plenty of adventure-oriented features, but it also has some high-end features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2018 Toyota Tacoma specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Toyota Tacoma is a fine compact pickup truck, and there are things it does exceptionally well. However, it also has a few shortcomings, and there are some areas where the Tacoma is merely passable while competitors stand out. If you place a heavy emphasis on your truck being able to go anywhere off-road, then the Tacoma belongs at the top of your list. Otherwise, there are probably options that will better suit your needs.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2018 Toyota Tacoma review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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