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    Resources — 2nd generation tacoma

    The History of The 2nd Generation Toyota Tacoma

    The History of The 2nd Generation Toyota Tacoma

    After the successful run of the first generation Toyota Tacoma, designers and engineers took to the drawing boards again in the year 2000. After the nine years of the first generation, Toyota launched the second generation pickup on October 18, 2004.

    While the original Tacoma won the hearts of thousands of owners, Toyota wanted to do more for the fast-growing model. Chief engineer Chikuo Kubota started in 2000 with goals to make the truck bigger, more powerful, and more capable than before. Hino Motors in Japan (which is responsible for many of Japan’s medium and full-sized trucks) handled most of the development work. In 2001, there was an internal design competition at Hino for the Tacoma, and it was won by Shigeya Hattori and Hideo Karikomi.

    From there, testing and production took the fast road to success. The designs were settled in 2002, and patents were filed, test mules were produced, and prototypes were constructed in 2003.

    Toyota finally showed the public what they had been working on at the February 4, 2004 Chicago Auto Show. The Auto Channel reported,

    The arrival of the all-new Tacoma series will mark the first step in expanding our presence in the North American light truck arena," said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager. "Larger in every metric of comparison, the new Tacoma will offer an extensive variety of body-and-bed configurations with substantially more passenger room, cargo volume, and towing capacity than ever before.

    The crowd didn’t have to just look at the shiny new X-Runner that was teased to the public much longer, because on October 18, 2004, Toyota launched the second generation Tacoma. With it came eighteen different configurations that included three cab configurations, four transmissions, two engines, and two bed lengths. This really opened up the market to have a truck for almost any buyer.

    The 2.4L four-cylinder and 3.4L V6 were dropped, but the 2.7L four-cylinder was kept. The 4.0L V6 was introduced to act as the new high output engine option. Transmission options went up to four! The transmissions were both four and five-speed automatics and manuals. Power went up to 159 for the 2.7L, and 236 horsepower for the 4.0L. 

    Toyota realized that the S-Runner was not doing too well for the first generation, so Toyota dropped it and introduced the X-Runner. This was Toyota’s street machine. The truck had the V6 with a six-speed manual transmission. The suspension was upgraded with Toyota’s X-Brace system as well as lowered two inches to help match the power. All of this was sitting on 18-inch wheels. 

    Since Tacoma was known for off-roading, Toyota, of course, decided to add more to those seeking dirt and rocks.  Down-Hill Assist Control (DAC) and Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) was added to the trucks with the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) off-road packages. Locking or limited-slip differentials were also optional features.

    The beds were heavily upgraded to allow better utilitarian use of them. A 12v outlet was also added to the bed for the TRD models.

    As time went on, changes were made to the Tacoma to better meet the needs of the public. Every year seemed to add just a little bit extra.

    2006 made a lot of the optional 2005 features standard. 2007 and 2008 were the same as 2006 aside from some color options. 2009 offered a number of changes from added safety features, to the replacement of the mechanical differential to a new “Auto Limited Slip Differential.”

    Production location had a major change in 2010. After the economic crisis in the US, and GM declared bankruptcy, all joint ventures between GM and Toyota ceased. One of the changes Toyota decided to make was to move all of the Tacoma production to one location in San Antonio, Texas where they would be built next to their bigger brothers: Tundra. 

    More creature comforts were added in 2009 and 2010 including speakers, satellite radio, and more. Major cosmetic changes including the front bumper, headlights, grille, and hood came about in 2012 really updating the look of the truck. 2013 took the entertainment a step further with a touch screen but took certain features away such as the satellite radio unless you got a certain optional package.  In 2014, the new SR trim came about.

    Toyota finally decided to create the third and current generation Tacoma starting in 2015. With it came a host of changes that make the Tacoma even better than before. The 2020 will even surpass that, especially with heated competition.

    Image Credits

    2005 Concept - Courtesy of The Car Connection

    Tacoma Gen 2 Picture 1 - Courtesy of Autotrader

    Tacoma Gen 2 TRD - Courtesy of FourWheeler

    Tacoma Gen 2 TRD Picture 2 - Courtesy of The Car Connection

     

    Toyota Tacoma - The History of America's Favorite Mid-Sized Pickup Truck

    Toyota Tacoma - The History of America's Favorite Mid-Sized Pickup Truck

    Toyota Tacoma sales continue to grow year after year. Why not? They are one of the best mid-sized trucks on the market. They come from a reliable and well-trusted company, and the trucks can do everything from daily commuting, casual off-roading, aggressive overlanding, towing, and just about whatever else you can throw at it.

    Where did the Tacoma start, how did it change, and how did it grow? Let’s find out with a bit of history on the trucks we’ve come to know and love.

    First Generation Tacoma (1995 - 2004)

    The Tacoma first came to the US market in February of 1995. The Tacoma was replacing the Toyota Hilux which was a pickup that ran in the US for decades. Japan realized that Americans and Canadians used trucks differently compared to the rest of the world. While just about every other country used trucks for utilitarian purposes, North America used them for work and pleasure. The first generation Tacoma was designed with that in mind. It was going to be focused on handling, driving comfort, and safety over utilitarian nature.

    What does Tacoma mean? It’s from the Salish Indian word for the mountain that provided water to their tribe (later changed to Mount Rainier). The name suggests images of strength and power. More information on Toyota’s names can be found here.

    Design work started in 1990 at Calty Design Research in California. When released, there were three engine options: a 2.4L and 2.7L four-cylinder, and a 3.4L V6. They got 26, 20, and 21 MPG respectively, and 142, 150, and 190 horsepower respectively.  Four-speed automatics and five-speed manuals were available, depending on the model, two or four-wheel drive, and cab size. Extended cab models featured a 6-foot bed while crew cab models received a 5 foot 5-inch long bed.

    In 1998, Toyota offered the TRD Off-Road package on select models. It included a locking differential, and there was also was an aftermarket TRD supercharger that could be added to the 3.4L V6 bringing up the horsepower to 254. The PreRunner model was also released that year.

    The first generation lasted a good nine years from 1995 to 2004. During that time, there were two facelifts (1997 and 2000). The biggest mechanical changes over the years were in 1996 where the spark system changed to coil-on-plug design, and in 1997 when longer rear leaf springs were added. In 2000, the S-Runner trim package was released which included different shocks, bigger wheels, and a manual transmission.

    Sales were very good for the first generation, mainly with young buyers. At the end of the generation run, sales surpassed the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota, but the Ford Ranger was still ahead in the compact truck class.

    One major downside to this generation (1995 to 2000) was poor rustproofing. This led to a recall of about 800,000 trucks in 2008. Some frames were so bad that they had to be replaced. Later, about 150,000 models from 2001 to 2004 were recalled due to spare tires detaching from the vehicle.

    Second Generation Tacoma (2005 - 2015)

    Toyota started working on the second generation Tacoma in 2000, which was launched on October 18, 2004. It was larger, approaching the mid-sized market. The engine options went down to two (2.7L four-cylinder and 4.0L V6), but transmission options went up to four! The transmissions were both four and five-speed automatics and manuals. Power went up to 159 and 236 horsepower respectively.

    With that, three different cab sizes, and two different bed lengths, there were 18 different configurations that a person could order a Tacoma in. This really opened up the market to have a truck for almost any buyer.

    The S-Runner was released to replace the poorly selling X-Runner. It offered even bigger (18 inch) wheels, was lowered, and had a beefier street suspension. It was not for the dirt at all, but Toyota upped its TRD Off-Road package, even more, to make up for it which included hill assist, and locking/limited-slip differentials. The beds of all the trucks were upgraded to allow more versatile use of them.

    Through the second generation, there were a number of changes. 2006 made a lot of the optional 2005 features standard. 2007 and 2008 were the same as 2006 aside from some color options. 2009 offered a number of changes from added safety features, to the replacement of the mechanical differential to a new “Auto Limited Slip Differential.”

    Production location had a major change in 2010. After the economic crisis in the US and GM declared bankruptcy, all joint ventures between GM and Toyota ceased. One of the changes Toyota decided to make was moving all of the Tacoma production to one location in San Antonio, Texas where they would be built next to their bigger brothers: Tundra.

    More creature comforts were added in 2009 and 2010 including speakers, satellite radio, and more. Major cosmetic changes including the front bumper, headlights, grille, and hood came about in 2012 really updating the look of the truck. 2013 took the entertainment a step further with a touch screen but took certain features away such as the satellite radio unless you got a certain optional package.  In 2014, the new SR trim came about.

    Third Generation Tacoma (2016 - Present)

    Towards the end of 2015, Toyota rolled out its generation of Tacoma that we know and love today. While much of the styling concept carried over from 2014, there were many changes that gave the current generation a far more aggressive look such as the larger grille and chiseled body lines. Gone are the days of compact trucks. The market seems to demand “bigger and better,” so the Tacoma is now officially considered a mid-sized truck.

    The 2.7L carried over with the same 159 horsepower, but the V6 was changed to the 3.5L which made 278 horsepower. The five-speed manual carried over until 2017 but then was replaced with a six-speed manual. Of course, a six-speed automatic was available.

    Toyota really focused on the off-road and utilitarian use of the truck this time around but didn’t detract from the luxury amenities. Better steel and more of it was used, but improved technologies lightened the overall frame weight while increasing durability. The suspension and rear differentials were changed to be the best of both worlds on-road and off.

    In addition to the exterior, Toyota changed the interior dramatically with more creature comforts including a bigger touch screen, soft-touch material (replacing hard plastics), and leather options. There have also been substantial efforts to reduce cabin noise with an acoustic windshield, better-insulated doors, and more weather stripping.

    Six trim levels are now available with the third generation: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro.

    The TRD trims offer some really impressive features this time around. The Sport effectively replaces the S-Runner as the best model to have for on-road performance, while the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro really crush all off-roading needs.  I cover all of the models in high detail in my post about the different TRD models.

    The 2020 model received a bit of a facelift and offers more entertainment features and a much desired multi-way adjustable seat. The Ford Ranger came out with very impressive features and performance numbers, so we can expect even better things from Toyota to compete.

    Bonus Facts

    These trucks are reliable. Mike Neal from North Carolina has a 2008 Tacoma with over 1.2 million miles on it. There is a first-generation (1997) that has 533,973 miles on it. It was recently listed for sale for $1,500. It is very beaten up, but still going strong!

    A 2010 Tacoma named Polar holds two current world records for the fastest run to the South Pole. The truck was far beyond stock with a near $400,000 of aftermarket modifications. It was a great platform to start with!

    Image Credits

    Polar - Courtesy of New Altas

    First Generation - Courtesy of Consumer Guide Automotive

    Second Generation - Courtesy of IIHS

    Third Generation - Courtesy of Autoblog

    Third Generation 2020 - Courtesy of Autoblog