Updated tech. The 2020 Toyota Tacoma is doing its best to keep up with the times. For this model year, Toyota finally adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus Amazon Alexa for good measure. These features go with a new 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, and more trims get a standard power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The upgrades are welcome. The competition for mid-size pickups is fierce, and Toyota will need all the help it can get differentiating the Tacoma from the likes of the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and Honda Ridgeline.
One major factor in their favor is the Tacoma’s safety equipment. The Tacoma is one of few pickups to include active safety tech standard, with features like adaptive cruise control on every model.
Rugged looks, rugged utility. But pickups aren’t about screens and technology, they’re about utility. The Tacoma has plenty of practicality, with multiple bed and cab options to suit most buyers.
To our eyes, it’s among the better looking mid-size pickups on the market, even a few years into this generation. With a V6 engine and a trailering package, the Tacoma will tow up to 6,800 pounds, which is fairly strong for the class.
Off-road enthusiasts will gravitate to the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro models, which are impressive away from pavement. The TRD Pro gets a new suspension for 2020, adding to other snazzy features like an underbody camera to avoid unseen obstacles.
Not a people hauler. Where the Tacoma falls down is its cabin. Even with the Crew Cab, a high floor and low roof make for a cramped interior. The rear seats aren’t especially comfortable, and legroom is limited. If you frequently need to carry more than two, rivals will likely do better.
The ride doesn’t help, either. The Tacoma’s ladder frame doesn’t do well absorbing road imperfections, ending up stiff and bouncy. Utility-minded buyers may not mind, but this pickup can’t cruise as well as the competition.
Down on power (and efficiency). The Tacoma starts with an underwhelming 159 horsepower, which is low even for a base model in this segment. The V6 is better, but the Tacoma never quite stops feeling sluggish on the road.
This would be understandable if it translated into gains at the fuel pump, but it doesn’t. Both the Ridgeline and Ranger get an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon on the highway, while the Tacoma only manages 24 mpg at best.
No one is buying a pickup for its gas mileage, but when the market is competitive, the details make a difference. If the Tacoma has one thing going in its favor economically, it’s that the model’s resale value holds up well.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Toyota Tacoma does a lot right. It adds necessary tech, makes the cabin more livable, and includes class-leading safety tech. For some buyers, that might be enough.
But the options for mid-size trucks are many, and the Tacoma stumbles elsewhere. The cabin and ride are ill-suited to carrying passengers, and the powertrains don’t do enough to compensate. This is a truck that may make sense for the right driver, but it’s worth shopping the competition, too.