The 2018 Toyota Tacoma continues to fight it out in the midsize pickup truck market, even as once retired models return and competitors update their offerings. It's strong on utility, but is especially capable off-road.

Best Value

The 2018 Toyota Tacoma comes in eight trims: SR, SR V6, SR5, SR5 V6, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro and Limited. Toyota offers two cab and bed choices. Its Access Cab is an extended cab model with two doors and a six-foot bed. The Double Cab has four doors and comes with a five-foot bed. Customers can choose between two- or four-wheel drive, inline-four and V6 engines, and a manual or automatic transmission.

Our “best value” pick is the TRD Sport ($34,805), the middle of three models tasked with taking you where you want to go. This model features a gray grille with smoked finish surround, 16-inch machined contrast alloy wheels, and an inclinometer with pitch and roll displays. We recommend the Double Cab for maximum interior room and four-wheel drive for optimum off-road capabilities.

  • Model: 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6
  • Output: 278 hp/265 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • MPG: 17 city/20 highway
  • Options:Six-speed automatic transmission ($1,510), Tow Package ($579, with an upgraded alternator; engine oil, ATF and power steering coolers; a Class IV hitch receiver, connector pins and trailer sway control ), Premium Package ($2,625, heated leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, JBL audio system, and navigation), Technology Package ($800, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert)
  • Base Price:$35,480 (including $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$40,535

Performance

Toyota Tacoma

Of the Tacoma's two engines, the V6 is our choice as it delivers the most robust power, especially under difficult conditions. It's basically as frugal as the base engine, while delivering the power edge drivers will want. In short, it's worth the investment

All TRD models softer than other trims due to off-road-focused spring and damper rates, while delivering superior wheel articulation and enhanced off-road management. Off-road designed wheels and shocks are present, with a trade-off in on-road comfort evident. The off-road-focused Tacos roll more heavily, and respond more severely owing to the soft suspension tuning. Non-TRD models have a more balanced ride.

The six-speed manual is fun, but it's going to be rarer on dealer lots than hens' teeth. The six-speed auto is fine, but is neither very smooth nor very eager to execute its duties.

Style

The Toyota Tacoma is a handsome truck no matter how it is ordered. Its design has evolved only gradually over the past quarter century when the Tacoma name rolled out. That’s not a bad thing. What Toyota has done in recent years with its higher hood and beltline along with the stamped “Tacoma” debossing on the tailgate give it a look found on larger models from Ram and Ford. We think the three-piece rear bumper is a winner, especially for work buyers who may find themselves backed up on the wrong side of a loading dock.

Inside, you’ll find a straightforward design, marked by a collection of colors and materials, but these combinations don’t always work well. The cabin doesn’t have as modern of a design as the new kids from Chevrolet and GMC, but it will suit most buyers. The sturdy switches and knobs are clearly marked. The GoPro holder in the windshield is a nice touch. As for seating, the lack of a telescoping steering column may affect comfort for some drivers, although the front seats are supportive as is the rear bench, which is ideal for two passengers, but not three.

The Best and Worst Things

Crawl control is the must have “fun” item for the Tacoma. Then again, Jeep purists will simply show you how its done manually. As with most models in this segment, prices can skyrocket with the top trims.

Right For...

Toyota Tacoma

Individuals wanting all the fun awaiting them when going off-roading. Any model with the TRD prefix advances this truck’s off-road chops.

Wrong For...

Anyone looking for an efficient truck. Fuel economy is middling at best, but downright poor if adventuring is your preference.

The Bottom Line

The reason the Tacoma is the top-selling midsize pickup truck has everything to do with its reputation. It is a handsome pickup with a smooth and competent V6. The Tacoma’s off-road capabilities are especially strong, what keeps a significant cohort of buyers coming back for more.