The Toyota Tacoma made its debut Thursday during a splashy introduction on the Big Island of Hawaii, and with a top-to-bottom makeover — and the addition of the all-new Trailhunter off-road model, the Japanese automaker is determined to remain king-of-the-hill in the increasingly competitive midsize pickup market.
What’s clear is that the new Tacoma will go up against some of the toughest competition it’s ever faced, with Chevrolet, GMC and Ford also launching all-new midsize offerings this year. Curiously, in a market where newer is generally better, the outgoing Toyota Tacoma was the oldest model in the segment yet also the most popular, easily outselling the nearest three competitors combined.
Now, however, it will be one of the newest, and it’s given Toyota the opportunity to redo just about everything. The 2024 Tacoma gets a new design, inside and out, a new powertrain line-up, plenty of new technology and, with the Trailhunter edition, an extreme machine that won’t easily cede ground to the likes of Chevy’s Colorado ZR2 Bison, GMC’s new Canyon AT4X AEV or the Ford Ranger Raptor.
Aiming to beat back the competition
“With even more off-road capability and the quality, durability and reliability that our customers expect along with a host of options for every owner, we’re confident that Tacoma will remain the top choice for mid-size pickup buyers when it arrives later this year,” Dave Christ, Toyota group vice president and general manager, said ahead of the 2024 model’s official unveiling.
While Toyota won’t release pricing until closer to the new Tacoma’s on-sale date, it offered up pretty much everything else potential buyers might want to know about the fourth-generation truck.
On the powertrain front, there are four different options available:
- The base SR model uses a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder turbo making 228 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an 8-speed automatic;
- The same i-Force engine has been retuned to deliver 270 hp and 310 lb-ft on other trims, the turbo-4 mated to a 6-speed manual transmission;
- A third version of the i-Force jumps to 278 hp and 317 lb-ft. Paired with the 8-speed automatic, it will offer up to 6,500 pounds of towing capacity; and
- The i-Force Max hybrid pairs that 2.7-liter gas engine to a 1.87 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery to deliver 326 hp and 465 lb-ft, with towing rated at 6,000 pounds.
All-wheel drive and other options
The new Tacoma also will be available with two separate four-wheel-drive systems. “An electronic locking rear differential is standard on TRD PreRunner, TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro and Trailhunter grades,” noted Toyota, adding, “The new and luxurious Limited grade now features a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a center locking differential on i-Force Max models.”
Toyota has yet to release other powertrain specs, including fuel economy, though the hybrid is clearly aimed at being the most gas-stingy option.
As these images illustrate, the 2024 Toyota Tacoma has gone through a complete, top-to-bottom makeover.
“Rugged outdoor fun”
“Our primary design goal for the all-new Tacoma was to be authentic to the way our customers use their trucks for rugged outdoor fun,” said Kevin Hunter, president, CALTY Design Research. “We looked at our truck DNA and the Toyota Baja race trucks for inspiration to capture the extreme spirit of offroad adventure. High lift, big tires, slim body, and a powerful athletic stance define the iconic Tacoma look, referred to as ‘Tacoma-ness’.”
The 2024 model is now based off Toyota’s TNGA-F platform — which is shared with the full-size Tundra. That made it possible to stretch the wheelbase of the new truck by 4.5 inches. As a result, the wheels have been pushed closer to the corners, reducing its overhangs. Though the width of the new Tacoma is the same, new axles have been pushed out 2.6 inches. Both those changes result in a more muscular and capable feel.
Toyota’s product development team also made modest changes in how you enter and sit inside the Tacoma. Add a thinner headliner and that makes it easier on taller drivers and occupants, TheDetroitBureau.com was told.
A wealth of alternatives
All told, there will now be eight different trim packages, from the base Tacoma SR up to the new extreme machine, the Trailhunter. As has become the norm in the truck market, each gets some unique detail, starting with the grille and front fascia. There are unique bumpers for off-road models like Trailhunter and TRD Pro to enhance approach, breakover and departure angles while off-roading. Those max out at 33.8 degrees, 23.5 desgrees and 25.7 degrees, respectively, on the TRD Pro. That model also delivers a maximum 11 inches of ground clearance.
One of the ways Toyota has retained its lead in the midsize truck market has been to provide a broad array of options for buyers. Add the choice of the Xtra Cab — with its single row of seats — and the two-row extended Double Cab package with seating for five.
There’s a 6-foot bed available on Xtra Cab models, including the SR, SR5 and TRD PreRunner, while Double Cab models offer a choice of 5- or 6-foot beds.
New interiors, new technology
The interiors are all new and offer plenty of new features and expanded storage, depending upon the model. Buyers who opt for the new hybrid powertrain will sacrifice a bit of space when it comes to the storage area built under the rear seats.
The old Tacoma had fallen behind in a number of fronts, especially when it comes to technology. With the 2024 remake, Toyota is aiming to set the benchmark in a number of areas. Base trucks get a 7-inch digital gauge cluster, higher trims a 12.3-inch display.
Base models come with an 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment, but a 14-inch package is available as standard or option, depending upon the trim package. And Toyota’s Alexa-like voice assistant, the Audio Multimedia system is offered across the board.
Wireless charging, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available as options or standard, depending upon the trim. And there are numerous USB-C ports, including two 45-watt plugs in the center console.
Work and play
As you’d expect from a midsize pickup, the 2024 Tacoma has to serve multiple challenges. Today’s buyers won’t tolerate the sort of rough ride trucks once were known for. The automaker claims it has taken a number of steps to improve ride quality while also enhancing Tacoma’s work truck tasks. That includes a more rigid ladder frame and a beefed-up suspension. Buyers will get leaf springs in Xtra Cab packages, while Double Cab models get a multilink rear suspension with coil springs.
The new Tacoma also adopts lighter aluminum body panels, though Toyota hasn’t revealed precisely how much weight that saves.
Tacoma has long been a favorite with overlanders and the automaker is determined to enhance its appeal with the 2024 model. It beefs up packages like the TRD Pro and TRD Off-Road, while adding the new Trailhunter.
“Toyota worked with renowned Australian-based ARB to co-develop Old Man Emu (OME) position sensitive 2.5-inch forged monotube shocks with rear external piggyback style remote reservoirs, a steel rear bumper, robust rear recovery points and a bed utility bar with removeable Molle panels,” the automaker said in a summary of the new truck’s features.
Trailhunter also gets 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires that add two inches of ground clearance up front and 1.5 in the rear. Other unique features include a trail exhaust tip, a high-mount air intake on the passenger side, and rock rails.
The TRD Pro, meanwhile, is aimed at go-fast driving in desert situations and, among other things, features Fox Quick Shift shocks, Fox Internal Floating Piston bump stops and cat-back dual exhaust tips.
A first for the 2024 TRD Pro are segment-exclusive “IsoDynamic Performance Seat that helps provide a smooth, confidence-inspiring ride for those in the driver and front passenger seats. The goal of this patent-pending feature is to stabilize the driver’s field of vision to improve focus, comfort, and reduce fatigue while on rugged trails.”
All 2024 Tacoma models come with the automaker’s Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite of advance driver assistance systems. These include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, road sign assist and other features. Look for most versions of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma to reach U.S. showrooms later this year.