Editor's Note: Car Pro Contributor Michael Garfield is a radio host, TV personality, and columnist based in Houston.
Trucks, especially here in Texas, generally conjure up adjectives like big, loud, masculine, and rugged. They come in many sizes but we mostly see full-size trucks which are good for hauling and towing heavy loads.
But let's not forget about the midsize category. Smaller in size, they do have less horsepower than their larger brethren but power isn’t everything. Some specs aren’t as different as you might think.
2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD
The Toyota Tacoma is a popular midsize truck with acceleration numbers roughly the same as the full-size Toyota Tundra. A base-level Tundra with the standard 4.6-liter V8 can tow up 7,000 pounds where the Tacoma, when properly equipped, can pull up to 6,800 pounds.
Tacoma’s 2018 version does indeed have good power and acceleration but what stands out to me is its off-road capability. The high-cabin demands more ground clearance for rolling over rugged terrain though it makes step-in a bit more of a stretch than typical trucks.
But once you’re inside the vehicle it is typical Toyota. The interior is nicely laid out with easily understood and effective controls. The cabin has plenty of space up front and in the back, and the standard cloth seats are comfy. The Entune multimedia system has a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and you’ll find a USB port, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera.
It sits and rides a bit high so you’re going to feel some bouncing when driving on roads. But again it’s that off-roading that makes the Tacoma a standout in its class. The cabin is quiet and there is a clear view out in all directions. The high-seat position makes it easy to spot the front corners.
The Tacoma comes standard with a 2.7-liter I-4 with 159 hp with a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA ratings for the base four-cylinder are 19/23 mpg city/highway. There is also an optional 3.5-liter V6 with 278-horsepower.
With six trim levels, you have many options to choose from depending on how you plan to work the Tacoma, whether on a daily commute or weekend fun. The Limited edition, which starts around $37,000, is the most street-oriented of the bunch. The entry-level SR is the work truck while the value-oriented SR5 offers good equipment.
Adrenaline junkies will enjoy the TRD series which are tuned for specific lifestyles. The TRD Sport and Off-Road versions have five different cab styles. The TRD Pro, topping out around $43,000, stands apart with a blacked-out hood scoop, black over fenders, LED fog lights and unique badging. These are the ones to look at if you think you’ll be taking the truck on dirt, gravel, and hills.
All models include Toyota’s Safety Sense-P that bundles together features like forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
If you have always wanted a truck but didn’t like the idea of a fill-size monster, a midsize truck may be your answer. The 2018 Tacoma does its job of hauling stuff and fits in parking spaces and garages easier than those other big boys. My final verdict: you don’t have to be in a midlife crisis for a midsize truck.