2009 Kia Borrego Reviews and Ratings

Utility 4D LX 4WD

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2009 Kia Borrego
Rob Douthit

Introduction
The Kia Borrego is a new midsize SUV that seats seven and compares favorably to the Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot.

The Borrego comes with either a 3.8-liter V6 engine using a five-speed automatic transmission, or a 4.6-liter V8 using a six-speed automatic. Both engines are built by Kia, and are all aluminum with double overhead cams. The V8 makes 337 horsepower, more than the Hemi in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The V8 model is rated to tow up to 7500 pounds.

Fuel economy is an EPA-rated 15/22 City/Highway miles per gallon with 2WD and 15/20 mpg with 4WD. The V6 is only a bit better with 17/21 mpg. That fuel mileage is good for an engine with that much power in a vehicle having the Borrego's weight and boxy aerodynamics, but it isn't frugal.

The Borrego offers three rows of seating, with overall interior volume greater than the competition. Legroom in the third row is very good, although it comes out of cargo space behind the third seat. With the 50/50 third seat lowered flat, there's a ton of cargo space. The 60/40 second row also drops flat, and it slides forward for easier ingress and egress to the third row.

Exclusive features include a standard tow hitch that's hidden behind the rear bumper, and LED turn signals on the sideview mirrors.

The Borrego is comfortable off road, with all-terrain capability that separates it from crossover SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander and Mazda CX-7. It comes standard with skid plates, and its optional electronic 4WD system is the latest generation made by BorgWarner and features high and low range.

Kia doesn't take styling risks, so the Borrego looks pretty much like any other boxy SUV; even its hood contours are rectangular. It may be bold, but it's still vanilla. The V8 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, the V6 with 17s.

The interior is especially clean and well laid out, the seats are soothing, and the instrumentation and controls are intelligent.

The ride is solid, consistent and comfortable, on a double-wishbone front suspension, multi-link rear. The smooth six-speed transmission in the V8 is the same that's in the BMW X5 luxury SUV.

There's not much to fault with the Borrego, except that it gets the fuel economy of a midsize SUV. Model Lineup
The 2009 Kia Borrego comes in two models, LX and EX. Each offers a choice of 3.8-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission with 17-inch alloy wheels or 4.6-liter V8 and six-speed automatic with 18-inch alloy wheels. Two-wheel drive is standard; four-wheel drive is optional.

The Borrego LX ($26,245) comes with cloth upholstery, manually controlled air conditioning, six-speaker AM/FM/CD with MP3 audio, eight-way driver's seat. The LX V6 is available with four-wheel drive ($28,295). The LX V8 ($30,995) comes standard with 4WD. Options include a navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system.

The Borrego EX ($27,995), EX 4WD ($29,995), EX V8 ($30,995), and EX 4WD V8 ($32,995) come with leather seating, dual-zone climate controls, and upgrades such as heated mirrors, trip computer, power front passenger seat, steering wheel controls.

Safety equipment on all models includes frontal airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats, and full-length airbag curtains. Also standard are ABS with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, downhill brake control, electronic stability control, traction control, backup warning, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The V8 models add a driver's knee airbag. Walkaround
Hard as Kia might have tried to make the Borrego look distinctive, it pretty much looks like any other boxy mid-size SUV. If you see the name Kia over the chrome grille, you might say, "Wow, that's a Kia." Otherwise there's nothing exceptional to notice, although the LED turn signals on the sideview mirrors are kind of cool.

The fender flares are edgy, the upright headlights trapezoidal and symmetrical, and there are two big rectangular contoured humps in the hood that, from the driver's seat, make the Borrego feel even bigger. There's gray or black plastic cladding surrounding the vehicle, tarnishing the pretty bronze color on our test EX, apparently there to protect the sheetmetal from bumps and scratches when driving the Borrego off-road. Skid plates under the body and tow hooks are standard.

There's ample glass on the sides, with three distinct pillars making a third rearward window that allows good visibility through the rear corners. The rear window is also ample, no nonsense, along with the taillights that spread over the liftgate and wrap around the fenders. The rear liftgate is one piece, so the window doesn't open separately. The standard tow hitch receiver is cleverly hidden, a first. The Borrego will tow 7500 pounds with the V8, or 5000 pounds with the V6. Interior
The Kia Borrego seats seven, with overall interior volume greater than the competition, including Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee and the new Honda Pilot.

The fold-flat second and third row seats produce a vast cargo space that's especially easy to access through the large-mouthed liftgate. The 60/40 second row reclines, and has good legroom because it slides rearward, then slides forward for easy ingress and egress to the standard two-seat 50/50 folding third row. There's also hidden storage compartment under the cargo floor in back.

There's 32.9 inches of legroom in the third row, which compares very favorably to the competition. For example the Nissan Pathfinder is closest to the same size as the Borrego, and only has 28.1 inches for the way-back passengers; Toyota 4Runner, a bit smaller (truck-based like the Borrego and Pathfinder) offers a toe-cramping 24.1 inches. The new Ford Flex crossover and Saturn Outlook, each about 10 inches longer than the Borrego, offer less than half an inch more.

The softness of the leather is just right, and the bolstering is excellent; for sure, the Borrego's seats are more soothing and compatible to our body than those in the Mercedes SUV we recently tested. Our test EX came in a lovely gray perforated leather. The console between the two front seats offers twin fixed cupholders in front of an armrest that's set back just far enough that it's really only an elbow rest.

The driver's compartment is as clean and well laid out as any we can think of. The four-spoke steering wheel has three big buttons on between the spokes on each side, arranged vertically: cruise control on the right, sound system on the left. Easy. The correct buttons on the driver's door armrest and on the console around the shift lever are just as easy. It's a nice shift lever, with a manual mode that's easy to access: slide the lever to the right, then forward and back for upshift and downshift. Again, easy.

The gauges are great: clean white on black, with the speedometer in center and smaller tachometer on the left. Big rectangular vents on the dash, some of the 16 vents total in the cabin, and a center panel for the climate control and navigation system, which we also found easy to operate. We found the defroster slow to clear the windshield, however. We also detected slight wind noise at highway speeds. Driving Impressions
The Kia Borrego is a truck-based SUV, that is to say body-on-frame construction. As such, the ride isn't as soft as with the crossover vehicles (car-based SUVs), such as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, or Mazda CX-7. But with insulated rubber mountings between the body and frame, the ride is not in any way harsh or uncomfortable; it's mostly just more rugged, and capable of handling the rough stuff. The ride is solid, consistent and comfortable. Over some patchy roads in the Cascade Mountains of beautiful and remote central Washington, the Borrego bounced a bit, but still not much.

Like the Kia Sedona minivan before it, the Borrego was carefully designed by Korean engineers examining all the vehicles in the class, and then incorporating the best ideas and latest technology. Sixty-four percent of the chassis rails (with eight crossmembers) are made up of high-strength steel, meaning the chassis is rigid and thus the vehicle corners with stability. The suspension is double wishbone front and multi-link rear, while the four-wheel disc brakes have rotors that are 12.9-inch diameter in front (ventilated) and 12.8 inches in rear (solid).

We liked how the brakes felt when stopping the 4600-pound Borrego from high speeds.

We liked the smooth six-speed ZF transmission in the V8 even more. This German transmission, first built for BMWs, is fast becoming the industry standard, and is being used by a growing number of manufacturers largely because it improves fuel mileage by 5 percent over a five-speed automatic.

We weren't able to get the Borrego off road during our one-day test, but there's no reason to believe it couldn't handle the challenge better than a crossover. The advanced 4WD system called Torque on Demand includes high and low ranges.

The Borrego has two standard features that have a safety value on road and off: hill descent control and hill ascent control. With an automatic transmission, hill ascent control isn't needed very much, but hill descent control can come in handy. Going down a steep icy hill, for example, the ABS activates and throttle is controlled, so the vehicle maintains a steady, safe and slow speed.

The turning, with rack-and-pinion power steering, is light, with a 36.5-foot turning circle, as tight as many smaller SUVs. And the six-speed ZF transmission, with a manual mode, is state of the art, the same as used in the BMW.

The 4.6-liter V8 engine makes a large 337 horsepower with 323 pound-feet of torque at a fairly low 3500 rpm, which makes it strong for acceleration as well as towing. It's an aluminum engine and double overhead cam, the first of this kind for Kia.

We hooked a travel trailer to our Borrego and blasted around some roads for a bit, and it wasn't surprising that it was an easy test, as the V8 is rated to tow 7500 pounds.

With 4WD the EPA fuel mileage is 15/20 mpg, and with 2WD it's 15/22 mpg. This is the killer for the Borrego, and for Kia. Suddenly, a 337-horsepower V8 SUV that gets 17 or 18 miles per gallon sounds like a dinosaur, never mind that it's an all-new design.

The V6 engine isn't the answer, either, because its mileage is 17/21 mpg in 2WD and 16/21 mpg in 4WD. It may be a modern DOHC aluminum 3.8-liter, but if it only gets 1 mpg more than the V8, while making 60 less horsepower and 55 less pound-feet of torque, there's not much reason to choose it. Summary
The new Kia Borrego does everything right, as a midsize luxury SUV. When weighed entirely and solely against its competition, the Borrego wins. It has excellent cabin and cargo space as a seven-seater, a solid and comfortable ride, terrific acceleration and towing power, and a smooth six-speed transmission in the V8. But midsize SUVs need to get better fuel mileage nowadays, so the trend will be toward smaller turbocharged engines. An all-new SUV using a 337-hp V8 appears to be moving against the incoming tide.

Sam Moses filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Cle Elum, Washington.

Model as tested
Kia Borrego EX 4WD ($32,995)
Basic Warranty
5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in
South Korea
Destination charge
750
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
26245
Price as tested
39295
Options as tested
Chrome wheels ($750); Premium Package ($1800); Navigation system ($1500); Luxury Package ($1500)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Kia Borrego LX ($26,245); Borrego EX ($27,995)
Safety equipment (standard)
frontal airbags, front side airbags, full-length airbag curtains, ABS with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, downhill brake control, electronic stability control, traction control, backup warning, tire pressure monitoring system
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
4.6-liter dohc 32-valve V8
Transmissions
6-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes, power windows, power locks, console, cruise control, tow hitch, stability control, traction control, downhill brake control, hill assist control, backup warning beeper, dual zone climate control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker sound system, 8-way power driver's seat, 4-way power front passenger seat, folding rear seats, remote entry, trip computer

Engine & Transmission
Engine
4.6-liter dohc 32-valve V8
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
337 @ 6000
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
15/20
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Suspension, front
double wishbone
Tires
265/65R18
Suspension, rear
multi-link

Accomodations
Seating capacity
7
Head/hip/leg room, middle
39.0/56.1/37.4
Head/hip/leg room, front
46.0/57.1/41.7
Head/hip/leg room, rear
38.0/44.9/32.9

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
12.4
Wheelbase
114.0
Length/width/height
192.3/75.4/71.3
Turning circle
36.5
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
7500
Track, front/rear
64.2/64.6
Ground clearance
8.5
Curb weight

2009 Kia Borrego
New Car Test Drive

Introduction
The Toyota Tacoma is arguably the best truck in a field of outstanding midsize pickups. It's certainly the most popular: The Tacoma dominates the market for mid-size pickups. It comes in a wide range of configurations to please a wide range of buyers.

For 2009, all models and trim levels of the Tacoma receive as standard equipment Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TC). An Automatic Limited-slip Differential (Auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention in place of a mechanical-type limited-slip to help reduce wheel-spin, is standard on all 2009 Tacoma models with the exception of those fitted with TRD Off-Road packages; those will have a separate locking differential. The Auto-LSD replaces the mechanical limited-slip in all applications where it was previously available. 2009 Access Cab models have a redesigned rear seat for improved comfort, as well as standard power windows and door locks. 2009 Tacoma SR5 models get new seat fabric.

The audio systems have been upgraded for 2009 and all come satellite-radio ready. The optional Premium JBL six-CD system is now Bluetooth-compatible and has an integrated satellite radio system that includes a three-month trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio. And there are numerous interior and exterior trim enhancements and changes for 2009.

For those who drive hard, there is a dealer-installed TRD Big Brake system developed by engineers with the Toyota Technical Center and Toyota Racing Development to provide effective braking performance under sustained heavy use. It improves pedal feel and substantially reduces brake fade from repeated high-speed applications.

The Tacoma offers a comfortable cab, a refined ride, and quality construction. Its on-road handing is responsive, its off-road capability is proven. The Double Cab delivers more rear-seat comfort than most of the competition, with enough room to rival a small sedan. Properly equipped V6 models can to tow up to 6,500 pounds.

Models range from a $15,000 work truck with a four-cylinder and 2WD to a loaded V6 4WD Double Cab Long Bed with all the candy. The base model is among the few regular-cab pickups still available, as the market has moved to extended-cab and crew cab styles; it excels at durability and reliability.

Tacoma PreRunner models can make you feel like Ironman Ivan Stewart practicing for the Baja 1000, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like Rod Millen preparing to blast up Pike's Peak.

Compact pickups aren't what they used to be. For one thing, they're no longer compact. Nor are they uncomfortable. They're more comfortable and more capable than ever before. Model Lineup
The Toyota Tacoma is available in 18 different configurations, including Regular Cab, Access Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab) body styles. Regular and Access Cabs come with six-foot beds; Double Cab comes with the choice of a shorter five-foot bed or a standard-size six-footer.

The base engine is a 2.7-liter inline-4 mated to a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional ($900). A 4.0-liter V6 is standard on Double Cabs and optional ($1,555) on 4WD Access Cabs. It is paired with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic ($880).

The Tacoma 2WD Regular Cab ($15,170) comes standard with cloth upholstery, AM/FM/CD four-speaker sound system, tachometer, digital clock, two 12-volt powerpoints, fuel warning light, tire-pressure monitor, service reminder indicator, dome lamp, rear mudguards, 15-inch steel wheels and a full-size spare tire. Air conditioning is optional.

Access Cab ($19,205) and Double Cab ($25,695) models add more standard features, including air conditioning and functional consoles for the floor and ceiling. Double Cabs come with upgraded seat fabric, plus power windows, mirrors and door locks. Access and Double Cabs also get upgraded six-speaker audio systems, and offer an in-dash six-CD changer ($200); Access Cab and Double Cab models offer a premium JBL system (thatÆs wrapped into other packages) with CD changer and amplified subwoofer. Both audio upgrades feature steering wheel controls.

PreRunner models are 2WD, but feature the high stance and general appearance of a 4WD truck. (Desert racers use this style of truck to scout or pre-run the course before the big race.) Regular Cab PreRunners ($16,065) must make do with four-cylinder power. The V6 is optional ($1,455) on PreRunner Access Cabs ($19,965) and of course standard on Double Cabs ($23,500). Buying a PreRunner is the only way you can get a 2WD Double Cab, as 4WD is standard on base Double Cabs. And all Double Cab PreRunners come with automatic transmission.

X-Runner ($25,585) features unique styling cues and a chassis tuned for on-road performance. Its name refers to the additional X-shaped brace added to stiffen its frame against high cornering loads. X-Runner is offered only in the Access Cab style, and only with the V6 and six-speed manual.

SR5 packages ($1,165-$2,070) bundle styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and chrome rear bumper, bucket seats with center console, and other upgraded interior features and trim.

The pavement-oriented TRD Sport Package ($2,405-$3,375) starts with SR5 Package 2 equipment and adds or substitutes P265/65R17 tires, sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, sport seats, overhead console and power point, plus a hood scoop, lots of body-color trim, and its own graphics package. TRD Sport is available on any Tacoma V6.

The TRD Offroad Package ($2,620-$3,840) starts with SR5 Package 2 equipment and adds or substitutes BF Goodrich P265/70R16 OWL tires, locking rear differential, off-road suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, engine skidplate, sport seats, overhead console with compass and outside temperature, heavy-duty front tow hook, 115v/400w deck-mounted powerpoint, and unique TRD graphics. TRD Offroad is available only on V6 models, but not on Double Cab Long Beds.

Options for the Tacoma include a tow package ($650) for V6 models that comprises a 130-amp alternator, heavy-duty battery, transmission oil cooler, and a Class IV hitch with seven-pin connector.

Safety features that come on all models include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control, and the Automatic Limited-slip Differential. Models with automatic transmission also include Hill-start Assist Control, and TRD Offroad models add Downhill Assist Control. In addition, front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Walkaround
The Toyota Tacoma is an attractive truck, more conservatively styled than the stylish Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota. Big headlights and a bold grille highlight the Tacoma's front end. Flush rear surface glass and flush surface structures between the bumper sides and body give it a polished look. PreRunner and 4WD models are distinguished by bold overfenders.

Overall length of the Tacoma varies by body style: Regular Cabs are the shortest and most maneuverable, measuring 190.4 inches overall on a 109.4-inch wheelbase. Access Cab and Double Cab short-bed models have a 127.4-inch wheelbase and 208.1-inch overall length. Double Cab long-bed models are quite long at 221.3 inches overall on a 140.6-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. Regular Cab PreRunners and 4WD models also 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 people-carrying comfort of a sport-utility. 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 numerous Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo-bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack, and other useful items. Interior
All of the latest-generation midsize pickups have decent interiors, but the quality of Toyota's interior materials seems just a little better. The lower dash and console are a lighter color than the main upper dash, brightening the interior. Trim rings surround the three clustered gauges, the cloth upholstery is decent and the seats look nice. The manually adjustable seats include lumbar adjustment but no adjustment for seat height or the angle of the seat bottom. Overall, the Tacoma provides the driver with a good driving position, and big mirrors afford a good view to the rear.

Cup holders are provided in the center console area. On models that don't have sport seats, the front passenger's seatback flips down to form a tray table or to make room for long objects, a handy feature. 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. 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 than the overly upright rear seats in some other compact pickups. In a back-to-back comparison test, we found the back seats of the Tacoma more comfortable than those in the Nissan Frontier. A younger person should be okay to ride across the state back there, and even adults won't complain too much on short trips. The rear windows even go all the way down.

The rear-seat area in the Double Cab is also good for carrying cargo. The 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 backs of 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 adult 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. It handles well 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 (Toyota calls it VVT-i, for Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) to optimize power and torque over a broad range of rpm. In action, the V6 feels refined and delivers responsive performance. It is rated at 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Toyota's 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 its part, the six-speed manual transmission is easy to shift, but first gear is a very low ratio, leaving a broad stretch to second. The automatic even delivers better gas mileage, according to the latest EPA estimates, with 17/20 mpg City/Highway; vs. 15/19 for the V6 and manual with 2WD and 14/19 for the V6/manual 4WD.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine gets better mileage and runs on regular gas. As with the V6, the four-cylinder benefits from VVT-i and dohc, which means it's a modern, sophisticated engine. It is rated at 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, which is about average for the class. EPA estimates are 20/26 mpg with 2WD and the five-speed manual, and 19/25 mpg for 2WD with the four-speed automatic.

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 a little over 40 feet. For this reason, we recommend the short bed unless you really need to carry something that won't fit in it. A base Tacoma Regular Cab boasts a turning circle of less than 37 feet.

On pavement, the 4WD and TRD Offroad models seemed smooth and refined. Off-road, a 4WD TRD model is smooth and highly capable. 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 also 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 you don't want to arrive to your backcountry camp 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 they can bring the truck 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 available TRD Big Brake system uses floating 13 x 1.25-inch directionally vented rotors, forged aluminum four-piston fixed calipers, larger pads with higher coefficients of friction, and braided steel brake lines.

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 the curves. 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 the X-Runner seems to ride better than our recollection of the Ford 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 Offroad models are terrific trucks for rugged terrain. The X-Runner drives and performs like a sports car.

Model as tested
Toyota Tacoma 4WD V6 Double Cab Long Bed ($27,075)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Fremont, California
Destination charge
745
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
15170
Price as tested
30980
Options as tested
SR5 Package 2 with JBL Audio ($2,070) includes fog lamps, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, chrome grille surround and rear bumper, color-keyed front bumper, sliding rear window with privacy glass, metallic tone instrument panel trim, leather steering wheel and shifter, JBL AM/FM/CD6 with 6 speakers, subwoofer and steering wheel audio controls; Towing Package ($650) including Class IV hitch, transmission oil cooler, heavy-duty battery and 130-amp alternator, 7-pin connector; 16-inch alloy wheels w P245/75R16 tires ($400): daytime running lights ($40)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Toyota Tacoma Regular Cab 2.7-liter 5-speed manual ($15,170); with 4-speed automatic ($16,070); Access Cab 5M ($19,205); with 4A ($20,105); PreRunner Regular Cab 5M ($16,055); PreRunner Access Cab 5M ($19,965); PreRunner V6 Access Cab with 6-speed manual ($21,420); with 5-speed automatic ($22,300); PreRunner V6 Double Cab 5A ($23,500); PreRunner Long Bed V6 Double Cab 5A ($24,000); X-Runner Access Cab V6 6M ($25,285); 4WD Regular Cab 2.7-liter 5M ($19,130); 4WD Access Cab 5M ($23,040); 4WD V6 Access Cab 6M ($24,595); 4WD V6 Access Cab 5A ($25,475); 4WD V6 Double Cab 6M ($25,695); 4WD V6 Double Cab 5A ($26,575); 4WD V6 Long Bed Double Cab 5A ($27,075)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual frontal air bags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, anchors for child safety seats; ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, tire pressure monitor, side-curtain airbags, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control
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 with passenger-side fold-flat and driver's side lumbar adjustment; adjustable headrests; 60/40 split rear bench with adjustable headrests; power windows, door locks and mirrors; AM/FM/CD6 with 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
16/20
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
vented 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
38.5/55.2/32.6
Head/hip/leg room, rear
N/A

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
Wheelbase
140.9
Length/width/height
221.3/74.6/70.1
Turning circle
44.0
Payload
1260
Towing capacity
6500
Track, front/rear
63.0/63.4
Ground clearance
9.4
Curb weight
4190


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