2020 Toyota Tacoma

By March 24, 2020

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup has muscular good looks, a well-earned reputation for off-road talent, and a big optional V-6. It returns for 2020 with a number of changes.

Those changes start with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability along with Amazon Alexa integration to an improved audio and infotainment system with 7.0-inch touchscreen. Other updates include a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat replacing the old manual seat on SR5 trims and higher, a surround-view camera system on top-tier models, and under-vehicle camera for TRD Off-Road and Pro trucks. There are also some styling tweaks to the popular “Taco,” such as a new grille, taillights, and LED daytime running lights, plus new wheels on most models. The off-road capable TRD Pro model gets a revised suspension.

The rear-wheel-drive Tacoma is one of the best-looking mid-size trucks on the highway, especially in the aggressive TRD Pro guise. It features a no-nonsense interior that emphasizes material durability over luxury. With its standard active safety technology and excellent off-road capability, it remains a strong contender in its class, although a bouncy ride and somewhat cramped cabin (even the crew cabs) goes against it.

Standard power comes from a 2.7-liter inline-4 making 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive. But a more popular choice is the 3.5-liter V-6 making 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque with four-wheel drive. The V-6 takes either the automatic or a manual transmission.

For 2020, a trailer package with a Class IV hitch and better engine cooling comes standard, increasing towing capacity to 6,800 pounds for V-6 models.

The 4-cylinder Tacoma is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 23 highway, and 21 combined with the 6-speed automatic. With four-wheel drive the mileage drops by 1 mpg.

The rear-wheel-drive V-6 gets a solid 19/24/21 mpg with the 6-speed automatic. The most popular model, the four-wheel-drive V-6, gets 18/22/20 mpg with the automatic, and 17/21/18 mpg for the 6-speed.

With its heavier components, the TRD Off-Road gets 17/20/18 mpg with the 6-speed manual. The TRD Pro gets 18/22/20 mpg for the automatic and 17/20/18 for the manual.

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma hasn’t been crash tested, but the 2019 model received four stars overall from the NHTSA, with four stars in both frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars for side crash tests. These ratings are just for the Crew Cab model, as Extended Cab models weren’t fully tested.

The IIHS gave that truck its top “Good” ratings in every category except for “Acceptable” in the small overlap front passenger side test, and “Marginal” for headlights. The new headlights on the 2020 in its top trim might be rated higher.

The 2020 Tacoma is one of the few mid-size pickups that comes standard with a full suite of active safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

Model Lineup

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma is available in SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro, and Limited models. It comes in extended- or crew-cab configurations, either with a 6-foot bed or a 5-foot bed on just the crew cab.

The SR5 is probably the best value, with new 16-inch wheels and new interior fabric. LED daytime running lights and bed lights are optional.

TRD Sport models get 17-inch wheels and available LED headlights as well as an optional surround-view camera system.

The TRD Off Road comes with Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential, hill-descent control, and several terrain traction control modes. For 2020 it adds LED fog lights, keyless entry, and optional LED headlights. For off-roading, its features are quite compelling.

The luxury Tacoma is the Limited, with 18-inch wheels, standard LED headlamps, and a surround-view camera system.

The TRD Pro looks hard core, especially in its new Army Green color, with black trim and black 16-inch wheels. Inside it gets a 10-way power driver’s seat and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The TRD Pro also gets the new surround-view camera system with an additional camera underneath the truck to help see obstacles on the trail.

Exterior

The Tacoma’s very high ride height and short 6-foot bed give it classic pickup proportions. With flared fenders, a vertical grille, new LED daytime running lights on most models, a modern touch with the stamped tailgate, and signature upward kick in the rear window, it’s a handsome truck. TRD Pro models make it look tough, with big chunky tires, black wheels, and blacked-out trim. There’s a new Army Green color that sets off the attitude.

Interior

The dashboard is business-like, with big controls for climate and other functions, and a new 7.0-inch touchscreen. There’s good storage throughout the cabin. The quality of the materials is somewhat rough-and-tumble, even on the higher-priced models. But it’s a pickup truck, so soft-and-smooth wouldn’t feel right.

Mid-size pickups aren’t the best carriers of people, and the Tacoma is no exception. The front and rear seats aren’t very comfortable. A high floor and low roofline, especially when the headliner is black, make for a cramped cabin.

The front seats in the Tacoma have standard 10-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat on all models. In the Crew Cab, the rear seats are upright and leg room is limited. In the Extended Cab, the tiny rear seat is useful for adult passengers only for brief stints.

The Extended Cab gets a 6-foot bed, while the Crew Cab gets either a 6-foot or 5-foot bed.

Driving Impressions

The standard 2.7-liter inline-4 engine makes 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic, and it delivers underwhelming acceleration. But almost every new Tacoma comes with the 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood. It’s reasonably strong, making 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 comes with the automatic or a manual transmission. Four-wheel drive is available with either engine.

Like all mid-size trucks save the Honda Ridgeline, the Tacoma rides on a ladder frame. It uses a solid rear axle with rear leaf springs and independent front suspension. This makes for a stiff and bouncy ride for most models, and with Fox shocks on the TRD Pro, the ride is even stiffer.

The four-wheel-drive mode is selected using a simple knob–it’s not a full-time all-wheel-drive system for use on dry pavement.. TRD Off-Road and Pro models get a push-button locking rear differential, a crawl control system, hill-descent control, and five unique off-road traction control settings.

Final Word

The V-6 engine is the only way to go with the 2020 Toyota Tacoma, although its 6-speed automatic is old technology, which can be avoided by selecting the old-school manual transmission. The stiff ride and cramped cabin can’t be avoided. But if you want to look macho, there’s the high-riding TRD Pro in Army green with black trim and chunky tires on black wheels.

 

—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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