2006 Toyota Tacoma Pricing

PreRunner Access Cab 2WD

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2006 Toyota Tacoma
New Car Test Drive

Introduction
Toyota Camry outsells all the other midsize cars largely because of Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability. The Camry is the perfect transportation appliance, flawlessly performing its duties, never annoying its owner. Its soft suspension smoothes out beat-up city streets. The interior is ergonomically excellent, with big climate and audio knobs that are easy to adjust, and the seats are comfortable.

For 2006, the Camry soldiers on virtually unchanged. (An all-new Camry is being launched for model year 2007.)

The two-door Solara comes in coupe and convertible versions. Built on the same platform as the Camry sedan, the Solara offers high levels of quality, durability and reliability. The Solara coupe features the practicality of a truly useful rear seat and adds style to your lifestyle without the cost and impracticality of a true sports car. The Solara convertible puts the wind in your hair and brings a ray of sunshine into your life. Both are high-quality cars. If you want two doors and a swoopy look, Camry Solara is a safe, smart choice.

For 2006, a five-speed automatic comes with the available four-cylinder engine. As before, the Solara is also available with a V6 engine. The 2006 Solara SE and SE Sport models come standard with power driver's lumbar support.

Choose a Camry sedan, Solara coupe, or Solara convertible, and you'll have a smooth, quiet car that should offer years of reliable service. Model Lineup
The 2006 Toyota Camry sedan comes in four trim levels: base, LE, SE, and XLE.

A 154-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard on Camry, LE and SE models. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard; a five-speed automatic transmission is optional ($830).

LE is available with a 190-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 ($2,405); it comes with the automatic transmission, included in the option price. XLE is available with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the 3.0-liter V6, both with automatic transmission only. SE is available with a bigger 3.3-liter V6 rated at 210 horsepower ($2,820), which comes with the five-speed automatic. Note that horsepower ratings for all three engines is lower than last year; this is due to a change in the Society of Automotive Engineers testing procedure used to rate horsepower. The engines themselves are unchanged and just as strong as last year's models.

The base sedan ($18,445) comes with air conditioning; cruise control; power windows, mirrors and locks; six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; a 60/40 split rear seat; ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); and P205/65R15 all-season tires on 15-inch steel wheels.

Upgrading to the LE ($19,545) adds interior brightwork, upgraded cloth upholstery, power driver's seat, remote keyless entry, engine immobilizer, driver-information center and a full-size spare tire. The LE V6 ($22,780) also gets 15-inch aluminum wheels.

Camry SE ($20,375) is a sportier model, with higher-rate springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars, along with higher-effort steering and bigger (16-inch) steel wheels and P215/60 summer-only tires. A three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and lots of bright trim add zing to the interior. The SE V6 ($24,025) adds the engine immobilizer, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and power sunroof.

The XLE ($22,795) is the most luxurious Camry, featuring wood-grain interior trim, power driver and passenger seats, automatic climate control, side-curtain airbags, JBL premium stereo with in-dash six-CD changer, a more advanced driver information center, an alarm system with engine immobilizer, a cargo net, a rear-window sunshade, and P215/60 all-season tires on 16-inch steel rims. The XLE V6 ($25,805) comes with leather seats and fancier gauges and 16-inch aluminum wheels.

The Camry Solara coupe comes in SE, SE Sport, and SLE trim levels. All coupes are available with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the 3.3-liter V6. Automatic transmission is standard on all except the four-cylinder SE and SE Sport, which are available with a five-speed manual. Four-cylinder Solaras now use the same five-speed automatic as the Camry.

The Solara convertible comes only in SE and SLE trim, and only with a V6 and automatic transmission.

The Solara SE coupe ($19,530) is the base level in the two-door lineup and comes standard with ABS; side-impact airbags; P215/60 all-season tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels; air conditioning; cruise control; power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry; and AM/FM/CD audio. The SE V6 coupe ($21,860) is similarly equipped. Side curtain airbags are optional.

The Solara SE Sport coupe ($21,025) comes with sport-tuned suspension and P215/55R17 all-season tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels; it also gets aggressive exterior appliques; and substitutes Graphite and Charcoal trim for a lot of the SE's interior brightwork. Solara SE Sport V6 ($23,355) is similarly equipped.

The Solara SLE ($23,405) is the most luxurious model with automatic climate control, power moonroof, JBL stereo with six-disc CD changer, power seats and woodgrain interior trim. Choose the SLE V6 ($26,405) and you also get leather seats and the same sport suspension and performance tires as the SE Sport.

Solara SE V6 convertible ($26,940) comes with the SE Sport's dark interior trim and 17-inch wheels, but is otherwise equipped much like the SE V6 coupe. The SLE V6 convertible ($30,210) is equipped the same as the SLE V6 coupe.

Leather upholstery is optional for the Camry SE and XLE sedans and Solara SLE coupe ($1,365-$1,630). A DVD-based Navigation Package, which includes leather upholstery, is optional on the Camry SE V6 sedan ($3,205) and XLE V6 sedan ($1,450). Navigation is also available on Solara SLE V6 coupe and convertible ($1,350), but only in combination with other options.

For all models, we highly recommend side-impact and/or side-curtain airbags ($400-$650) or, better still, a package for the sedan that includes side-impact and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control (VSC), traction control and brake assist ($1,300). VSC is a stand-alone option on Solara ($650) but requires side-curtain airbags on the coupe ($400) and navigation on the convertible ($1,350). Walkaround
Overall, the Toyota Camry is a solid-looking car, stylish yet conservatively so. The Camry presents a sculptured appearance, with slightly flared wheel arches and a distinct dual crease line in the hood, the latter leading nicely into the grille. On sporty SE models, the grille is blacked out.

Solara shares the sedan's 107-inch wheelbase, but is 3.3 inches longer overall than the Camry, measuring 192.5 inches from bumper to bumper.

The Solara coupe looks like a stylized version of the sedan. It's a more adventurous design. The roofline is sleeker and the rear is totally different from the Camry sedan's, reminding us of the Lexus SC 430. The arc-shaped theme features a continuous line from the front bumper, over the roof, and down to the rear bumper. Just below the beltline, a character line flows in a gentle S-curve from the teardrop headlamps to the teardrop taillights. The Solara looks aerodynamically efficient, and it is, with a drag coefficient of just 0.29 Cd, making it slip through the air much more easily than the previous Solara, good for wind noise, gas mileage, and speed. The outside door handles are easy to grab, much better than lever-style handles.

Toyota says the convertible's body structure was designed from the ground up for topless motoring, unlike the previous-generation convertible, which was adapted from the then-current coupe. The current Solara offers improved torsional rigidity over the previous model, which translates into a more solid feel and a quieter ride. The Solara was designed and engineered in the U.S. and is built in the U.S. Interior
The Toyota Camry has a comfortable interior with controls that are straightforward and easy to operate. Everything is laid out simply. Optional power-adjustable pedals help shorter drivers find a safer, more comfortable driving position, by permitting them to move the pedals closer to them and sit farther from the airbag-armed steering wheel.

Radio and climate controls are mounted high in the center of the dash for easy access. Three big knobs mounted prominently in the center of the dashboard are used to manually control heating, ventilation, and air conditioning on base, SE and LE models. XLE models get automatic climate controls with a smooth tactile feel that reminds us of Lexus, which set the modern standard. The stereo uses big tuning and volume knobs and big buttons that make it easy to operate, whether scanning for radio stations or moving between songs on a CD. We found the audio quality on the available JBL sound system a bit lacking, however.

We found the optional navigation system easy to use and it recalculates quickly. It's available as a stand-alone option for 2006 and we recommend getting it.

The instruments are located in a relatively small pod directly in front of the steering wheel, with a large half-moon tachometer and matching speedometer. The fuel and temperature gauges are located within the two larger instruments. Lights and windshield wiper/washer controls are on stalks on the steering column, leaving the left lower edge of the dash free of switches.

The Camry dashboard is relatively plain, with no large curved surfaces, and it is set relatively high. The dash blends nicely into the door panels, but the cover for the passenger-side air bag is noticeable as the seams show clearly. Many other manufacturers have made the passenger-side air bag invisible.

A wide center console separates the two front bucket seats and contains useful storage areas. The parking brake on the base and LE is located in the center console, whereas the SE and XLE get foot-operated parking brakes.

Rear-seat passengers will find the Camry's accommodations quite pleasant for a mid-size sedan. The rear seat splits 60/40, allowing long objects to pass through from the trunk, although the opening is small. The trunk itself is a decent size and shape. Gooseneck hinges steal some space, but are hidden under a cover, reducing the chance that they will damage trunk contents as the lid is closed.

The Solara adds a dash of panache with a sweeping console that invokes the intimate atmosphere of a sporty coupe. The seats are relatively flat, which makes sliding in and out easy, but we'd prefer a little more side support. The cloth is nice, though it's a bit bland. But the faux wood in the Solara convertible we tested looked like plastic and some of the silver reflective material on the lower center stack was too reflective for our taste.

In sharp contrast to the sedan's flat dash, the Solara's shapely instrument panel suggests separate nacelles for driver and passenger, giving it more of a cockpit feel. Instrumentation is divided into three pods, with a five-function trip computer sharing the left pod with the tachometer. A futuristic, multi-function display dominates the bulging center stack. The separate HVAC (heater) controls are easy to operate. On V6 models, a gated shifter for the automatic transmission allows manual gear selection.

The rear seats are surprisingly roomy, though less so than in the Camry sedan. Compared to the Honda Accord coupe, the Solara provides significantly more rear-seat hip room (50.3 inches vs. 46.1) and leg room (35.4 vs. 31.9) and a bit more headroom. The convertible is roomy as well. With the top up, there's actually 2 inches more rear-seat headroom than in the coupe. (And with the top down, there's lots more headroom.)

The Solara coupe can carry a tad more luggage than the Accord coupe, 13.8 cubic feet vs. 12.8. And the rear seats fold down to reveal a big pass-through.

The Solara convertible features a glass rear window but rearward visibility is hampered when the top is up by the small window and rear headrests. Release a pair of latches and the power top folds down in just 10 seconds. One touch of a button lowers all four windows. A vinyl boot cleans up its appearance when the top is down, but we found installing it a hassle. And it takes up a lot of space in the diminutive trunk when not being used. We'd be inclined to leave it in the garage. Driving Impressions
The Toyota Camry is quiet and comfortable. The engines are quiet and the car has been engineered to keep noise and vibration out of the cabin.

The Camry is an easy car to drive. There is nothing untoward or strange about it. It does everything just right. The ride is pleasant, verging on luxurious, with enough cushioning to make passengers feel comfortable. The steering is light but not sloppy. The Camry's soft suspension tuning makes for a smooth, impact-free ride on bumpy pavement. Those who like sportier, more precise handling will notice that the different suspension setup and tires on the Camry SE make the handling feel crisper, though this is not a sports sedan.

The Solara is sprung softly as well. The suspension filters bumps and noise yet it doesn't isolate the driver from valuable road feel. Still, the Solara is no sports car, either. It corners fairly flat, but the tires start squealing when it's driven hard. For most people, this is not an issue.

Camry's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has 16 valves and double overhead camshafts; it develops 154 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 160 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. More than two-thirds of all Camry models are sold with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission. This is an inexpensive combination and it provides plenty of power.

The 3.0-liter V6 optional for the Camry LE sedan and XLE sedan develops 190 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 197 pound-feet at 4400. The 3.3-liter V6 optional for the SE sedan and all Solaras produces 210 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 220 pound-feet at 3600 rpm. The most important of these numbers is the lower engine speed where peak torque is developed; the higher torque at lower rpm means the 3.3-liter engine will be a more flexible engine that's more responsive in any given situation.

You'd never know from driving the car, but the gas pedal is a drive-by-wire affair: Instead of being connected to the engine by a cable, the pedal activates a sensor connected to a computer, just like the controls in modern aircraft. One advantage of this arrangement is that the optional Vehicle Skid Control system can take over the throttle in an emergency and apply just the right amount of throttle and braking to keep the vehicle on a more stable path. Formula 1 racing cars, the fastest cars in the world, use drive-by-wire.

The Camry and Solara offer sophisticated five-speed automatics for all engine options. Five-speed automatics generally offer better response and better fuel economy than four-speed automatics, because more gears mean the engine runs closer to maximum efficiency more of the time. Toyota's transmission adds computer logic: The Camry "knows" when it is going up hill or down hill, and the transmission shifts gears accordingly. It can hold a lower gear longer when necessary to avoid the annoying shifting up and down that occurs in some automatics. Though it offers a manual-shift feature, we found it best to leave it in Drive as its performance is a bit mushy.

All three Camry engines are equipped with Toyota's VVT-i system (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) for optimum power and efficiency and lower emissions. All are cast from lightweight aluminum, and all achieve an ultra-low ULEV II emissions rating. Four-cylinder models sold in California produce only 145 horsepower, but meet Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) standards.

The Solara convertible is not as quiet as the other models, of course. Its soft top lets in noise, especially from the rear. Road noise, engine noise, even bicyclists talking to each other could be heard when the top up. Though Toyota claims the convertible's chassis is rigid, we found the level of refinement a bit disappointing. The convertible shudders a bit over potholes, generating cowl shake (the dash shakes). Summary
The 2006 Toyota Camry pleases many buyers and offends none. It is remarkable for its lack of identifiable flaws. It's quiet, comfortable and refined. It's reliable. Its controls are easy to operate. The Solara coupe has a genuinely useful back seat and a good-sized trunk. The Solara convertible offers the freedom of being able to drop the top. Both offer top levels of quality, durability and reliability.

New Car Test Drive correspondent John Rettie filed the original report and is based in Santa Barbara, California.

Model as tested
Toyota Camry LE automatic ($20,375)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Georgetown, Kentucky, and Toyota City, Japan
Destination charge
540
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
18445
Price as tested
21565
Options as tested
side-impact and side-curtain airbags ($650)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Toyota Camry 5-speed ($18,445); auto ($19,275); LE 5-speed ($19,545); LE auto ($20,375); SE 5-speed ($20,375); SE auto ($21,205); XLE ($22,795); LE V6 ($22,780); SE V6 ($24,025); XLE V6 ($25,805); Solara SE 5-speed ($19,530); Solara SE auto ($20,360); Solara SE Sport 5-speed ($21,025); Solara SE Sport auto ($21,855); Solara SLE ($23,405); Solara SE V6 ($21,860); Solara SE Sport V6 ($23,355); Solara SLE V6 ($26,405); Solara SE V6 convertible($26,940); Solara SLE V6 convertible ($30,210)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage front air bags, ABS, EBD, LATCH child-seat anchors
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
2.4-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4
Transmissions
5-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; power steering; AM/FM/CD stereo; power windows, mirror and door locks; remote keyless entry; cruise control; daytime running lights; 60/40 split rear seat; full-size spare tire

Engine & Transmission
Engine
2.4-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
154 @ 5700
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
24/34
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
vented disc/drum, with ABS and EBD
Suspension, front
independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Tires
P205/65R15
Suspension, rear
independent, dual-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
39.2/54.4/41.5
Head/hip/leg room, rear
38.3/54.1/37.8

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
16.7
Wheelbase
107.1
Length/width/height
189.2/70.7/58.7
Turning circle
34.8
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
2000
Track, front/rear
60.8/60.4
Ground clearance
5.5
Curb weight
3164

2006 Toyota Tacoma
New Car Test Drive

Introduction
The Toyota Tacoma may be the best pickup in its class. And that's saying a lot, because the entire class is outstanding. The Toyota Tacoma was completely just last year, but nearly every truck in this class has been recently redesigned.

Just in the past two model years, nearly every pickup in this class has grown from a compact to a mid-size, and all have been totally re-engineered in the process. Toyota, Nissan, and Dodge redesigned their smaller pickups from the ground up, keeping little the same but their nameplates; Chevrolet and GMC launched all-new trucks with new names. The aging Ford Ranger is the only truck left from the old generation, and it competes primarily on price.

The latest generation of mid-size trucks features roomier cabs, improved ride quality and increased stability. The boast more power and increased refinement. All are available in the increasingly popular crew cab configuration, and their larger size makes this a more compelling choice. The newest crew cab models are practical alternatives to a sedan, something that wasn't really true of the previous generation. Mid-size pickups offer better maneuverability than full-size trucks, while providing serious hauling and towing utility. With so many good trucks available, this is a fine time to be shopping for one.

Tacoma steps to the front of this class with its comfortable cab, refined ride, responsive handling, proven off-road capability, and quality construction. Properly equipped V6 models are rated to tow up to 6,500 pounds. In every way, this latest Tacoma improves on all the attributes that loyal Tacoma owners have cherished in the past, while increasing interior roominess and refinement. Perhaps most important, Tacoma enjoys Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.

Tacoma was redesigned and launched as an all-new model for 2005 and there are no significant changes for 2006.

A wide choice of models is available, ranging from a $14,000 work truck to a $30,000 4x4 Double Cab. The former is among the few regular-cab pickups available today as the market has moved to extended-cab and crew cab styles. TRD PreRunner models may make you feel like Ivan "Ironman" Stewart getting ready to win another Baja 500, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like Rod Millen preparing to blast up Pike's Peak. Model Lineup
Regular Cab, Access Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab) body styles are available. All come with six-foot beds; Double Cab is available with a six-foot bed or a five-foot bed.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine comes with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. The 4.0-liter V6 is paired with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. With either engine you can order two-wheel drive (2WD) or part-time four-wheel drive (4WD).

The base Tacoma 2WD Regular Cab comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, a full-size spare tire, AM/FM/CD four-speaker sound system, tachometer, coolant temperature gauge, digital clock, two powerpoints, fuel warning light, dome lamp and rear mudguards. New for '06 are a standard tire-pressure monitor and service reminder indicator. Access Cab and Double Cab models come with more standard features, including bucket seats and a center console. Double Cabs get upgraded seat fabric and power windows, mirrors and door locks. Access and Double Cab models also get upgraded audio systems, including an AM/FM radio with an in-dash six-CD changer and six speakers; Double Cabs also offer a JBL premium audio system with seven speakers, including an amplified subwoofer. Both audio upgrades feature steering wheel audio controls.

Options revolve around five packages: An Enhancement Package for the 2WD Regular Cab adds air conditioning and styled steel wheels. The Convenience Package for the 2WD Regular Cab adds cruise control; remote keyless entry; and power windows, door locks and mirrors. The SR5 Package bundles styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and chrome rear bumper, center console, intermittent wipers and upgraded interior features and trim. In Access Cab and Double Cab models, the SR5 package also adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Walkaround
The Toyota Tacoma is an attractive truck, though not as stylish as those from Nissan, Dodge and other manufacturers. Big headlights and a bold grille highlight the front of the Tacoma. Flush rear surface glass and flush surface structures between the bumper sides and body give it a polished look. PreRunner and 4x4 models are distinguished by bold overfenders.

The length of the Tacoma varies by body style: Regular Cabs are the shortest, measuring 190.4 inches overall on a 109.4-inch wheelbase. Access Cab and Double Cab short-bed models have a 127.2-inch wheelbase and 208.1-inch overall length. Double Cab long-bed models are quite long at 221.3 inches overall on a 140.9-inch wheelbase. All models have six-foot beds except the Double Cab short-bed, which has a five-foot bed.

How to choose? Regular Cab models pack lots of cargo space in a relatively small package, good for maneuverability in the big city. PreRunner and 4WD Regular Cabs have the best break-over angle due to their short length and therefore offer the best capability off road. Access Cabs feature large dual rear auxiliary doors, not good for people but very good for gear. Double Cabs have long, conventionally hinged rear doors that open 80 degrees for ease of entry or loading gear. Double Cabs offer the comfort of a sport-utility; the long-bed Double Cabs can carry more stuff but are unwieldy in tight places.

Tacoma comes with a composite inner bed, lighter than steel yet tougher and more durable. The bed features two-tier loading and an integrated deck rail utility system with four adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack, and diamond-plate storage boxes. Interior
All of the latest-generation of mid-size pickups have decent interiors, but the quality of Toyota's interior materials seems just a little better. The dimpled material on the dash and upper panels and the textured material on the lower dash and door trim look nice; it's hard plastic, but it looks soft. Not everyone loves the perforated silver plastic used for the center stack. But the cloth upholstery is decent and the seats look nice.

We found the bucket seats on the upper level models comfortable, with good bolstering, though some thought the seat bottom could be longer and have more thigh support. The manually adjustable seats include lumbar adjustment but no adjustment for seat height or the angle of the seat bottom. The power seats available on the Nissan Frontier have these features. Overall, though the Tacoma provides the driver with a good driving position.

Big mirrors afford a good view to the rear. Solid cup holders are provided in the center console area. The front passenger's seatback flips down to form a tray table or to make room for long objects, a handy feature on models so equipped. The switchgear is easy to operate, and everything is where you expect it to be. Big rotary knobs make it easy to adjust cabin temperature even with gloves on; the knobs are electronic, so they're easy to twist. The radio is fully integrated into the upper center stack and it's easy to operate, though the display is nearly impossible to read through polarized sunglasses. CDs sound good through the JBL speakers. We aren't thrilled with the pull-out handbrake that comes on models with manual transmissions, as we prefer a lever or footbrake. Models with automatics come with a foot-operated parking brake.

The rear seats in the Tacoma Double Cab are particularly comfortable for the class, offering good legroom and shoulder room and decent headroom. The seatback is angled back slightly, making it more comfortable. In a back-to-back comparison test, we found the back seats of the Tacoma more comfortable than those in the Frontier. A younger rider should be okay to ride across the state back there and even adults won't complain too much on short trips. The rear windows go all the way down.

The rear-seat area in the Double Cab is good for carrying cargo. The back seat is split 60/40. Flip the seat bottoms forward and fold the two sections down to form a flat platform for gear. It takes two hands to do this and you first have to remove the headrests, which is a hassle, though Toyota has at least provided a place to store them. The seatbacks are hard, and form a sturdy cargo floor. It's not a bad spot for a dog, better than the bumpy floors in the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota, but still a big jump down. Our experience has been that none of the trucks in this class is particularly good for dogs.

The Access Cab has rear seats, but they're pretty hopeless for humans. The space back there is best used for small cargo that you don't want to put in the bed. Driving Impressions
The Toyota Tacoma drives well and cruises nicely, it offers plenty of power from the V6, good handling and feels relatively refined. Off-road models offer better capability over rugged terrain than previous-generation models as well as improved ride comfort.

The 4.0-liter V6 engine uses dual overhead camshafts and variable valve technology (called VVT-i) to optimize power and torque over a broad range of rpm. In action, it feels refined and delivers responsive performance. The Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE, has changed the way power is rated, so on paper it looks like the Tacoma's power has been reduced, but in fact the engine hasn't changed for 2006 and offers just as much power as 2005. The new tests rate the 4.0-liter V6 at 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The Toyota V6 is more powerful than the five-cylinder engine in the Chevy Colorado or the base V6 in the Dodge Dakota, but less powerful than the Nissan Frontier.

The 4.0-liter V6 works well with the five-speed automatic transmission. And that's our first choice for this truck: the V6 and automatic. The automatic is super smooth and very responsive, quickly downshifting when you mash the throttle, and it offers five ratios to better keep the engine at its most efficient rpm. For it's part, the six-speed manual transmission is easy to shift, but first gear is a very low ratio, leaving a broad stretch to second. And the manual does not offer fuel economy advantages: The EPA estimates 18/22 mpg City/Highway for 2WD automatics, 17/21 for 4WD automatics; with the manual transmission the V6 managed only 16/21 with 2WD or 4WD. Toyota recommends 91 octane gas for the V6.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine does offer better fuel economy than the V6 and can run on less-expensive Regular gas. For 2006, the four-cylinder is rated at 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, which about average for the class. The four-cylinder does offer. EPA estimates are 21/27 mpg for 2WD with five-speed manual, 20/27 for 2WD with four-speed automatic. Four-wheel drive bogs it down, however, to just 19/23. Toyota recommends 87 octane for the four-cylinder. As with the V6, the four-cylinder benefits from VVT-i and dohc, which means it's a modern, sophisticated engine.

Handling is quite good on curvy roads. The Tacoma feels steady in sweeping turns and suffers from surprisingly little body roll, or lean, in hard corners. The Tacoma feels big on the road when compared with older compact pickups and, in fact, it is relatively large. It's wider and longer than previous-generation models. Size can be a detriment when parking, and a long-bed Double Cab can be a challenge in tight parking situations due to the amount of space it requires to turn. The Tacoma Double Cab long bed requires 44 feet to complete a circle, while a Double Cab short bed needs closer to 40 feet. For this reason, we recommend the short bed unless you really need the long bed, in which case we'd recommend the long bed. A base Tacoma Regular Cab boasts a turning circle of less than 37 feet.

On pavement, the 4WD and TRD models seemed smooth and refined. A 4WD TRD model is smooth and highly capable off road. The TRD suspension is excellent on rough, rugged terrain. It handles well on rough dirt trails, something we learned while charging up a ski run at Alyeska. It never bottomed on the rough terrain even when we pushed it well beyond socially acceptable standards. The Tacoma TRD easily handled an off-road course that featured steep ascents and descents, moguls and a log step. In short, we'd feel comfortable tackling just about any terrain in a Toyota Tacoma. And it doesn't just get there, it does it in relative comfort. The Tacoma doesn't seem to generate as much head toss as earlier 4WD compact pickups, an important consideration when driving long distances over rugged terrain because we don't want to arrive in the backcountry fatigued from driving.

Switching into 4WD and 4WD Lo is as easy as twisting a rotary knob. It works very well, for the most part, but we tried to confuse it by switching the knob around underway and we succeeded. The low-range lights wouldn't turn off until we stopped, shut it off and restarted, the automotive equivalent of rebooting your computer.

The Tacoma's brakes are smooth and easy to modulate and can bring it to quick halt without drama. The rear brakes are drums, however, less desirable than the rear disc brakes that come on some of the other pickups in this class.

The X-Runner is a lot of fun to drive and handles like a sports car. It corners flat and generates lots of grip in corners. We pushed it hard up a hill climb and were not able to reach its cornering limits. It tracks well and is very stable in tight corners even when spinning the inside rear tire under full throttle. The ride is firm, but seems to ride better than our recollection of the SVT Lightning. However, we didn't care for the feel of the clutch pedal, the steering was vague on center, and there was that aforementioned inside rear-wheel spin. Wind noise seems higher in the X-Runner than in the other models. But much of this is nitpicking. This is a tight, sporty truck, and probably the best of the genre. There's no cowl shake. The exhaust sounds cool. If you want a truck that can hang with a sports car, the X-Runner is the ticket. Summary
Toyota Tacoma is among the best of the latest generation of midsize pickups. The Tacoma features a comfortable cab trimmed with quality materials. The 4WD models offer crisp handling, a nicely balanced ride quality, and excellent off-road capability. The TRD models are terrific trucks for rugged terrain. The new X-Runner drives and performs like a sports car.

Model as tested
Toyota Tacoma 4x4 V6 Double Cab Long Bed ($25,615)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Fremont, California
Destination charge
540
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
curtain airbags for head protection ($650); JBL AM/FM/CD6 w 6 speakers, subwoofer and steering wheel audio controls ($500); SR5 Package 5 ($2,965) includes limited-slip rear differential, Class IV hitch, transmission and supplemental oil coolers, heavy-duty battery and alternator, 7-pin connector, 16-in. alloy wheels w P245/75R16 tires, fog lamps, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, chrome grille surround and rear bumper, color-keyed front bumper and overfenders, sliding rear window w privacy glass, metallic tone instrument panel trim, leather steering wheel and shifter, sunvisors w mirrors and extenders; daytime running lights ($40); 4-pc. carpet floor mats ($130)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Tacoma Regular Cab 2.7-liter 5-speed manual ($13,780); w 4-speed automatic ($14,680); Access Cab 5M ($17,220); 4A ($18,120); PreRunner Regular Cab 5M ($14,650); PreRunner Access Cab 5M ($17,980); PreRunner V6 Access Cab w 6-speed manual ($19,435); w 5-speed automatic ($20,315); PreRunner V6 Double Cab 5A ($22,040); PreRunner Long Bed V6 Double Cab 5A ($22,540); X-Runner Access Cab V6 6M ($23,545); 4x4 Regular Cab 2.7-liter 5M ($17,725); 4x4 Access Cab 5M ($21,055); 4x4 V6 Access Cab 6M ($22,610); 4x4 V6 Access Cab 5A ($23,490); 4x4 V6 Double Cab 6M ($24,235); 4x4 V6 Double Cab 5A ($25,115); 4x4 V6 Long Bed Double Cab 5A ($25,615)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual frontal air bags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, anchors for child safety seats; ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, tire pressure monitor
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
4.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6 with VVT-i
Transmissions
5-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning; cloth bucket seats w passenger-side fold-flat and driver's side lumbar adjustment; adjustable headrests and SR5 fabric trim; 60/40 split rear bench w adjustable headrests; power windows, door locks and mirrors; AM/FM/CD6 w 6 speakers; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; 2 power points

Engine & Transmission
Engine
4.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6 with VVT-i
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
236 @ 5200
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
17/21
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/drum with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent, double wishbones, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Tires
P245/75R16
Suspension, rear
live axle on leaf springs

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
40.1/53.6/41.7
Head/hip/leg room, rear
38.5/55.2/32.6

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
Wheelbase
140.9
Length/width/height
221.3/74.6/70.1
Turning circle
44.0
Payload
1350
Towing capacity
6500
Track, front/rear
63.0/63.4
Ground clearance
9.4
Curb weight
4045


Vehicle History Report


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