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.
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