SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide
Toyota's compact pickup trucks have long been a benchmark in their class, and have a loyal following. But a compact truck can be too small for some uses, and there were Toyota pickup owners who needed something larger. To keep its faithful customers happy, Toyota introduced the T100 in 1993. Not only was the T100 the first large pickup from a foreign manufacturer when it made its debut, it is still the only foreign entry in that most American of vehicle classes.
The T100 was designed from the beginning to be a versatile workhorse, with Toyota quality and comfort. It could do all of the hauling and towing chores deemed necessary, with comfort and style that were uncommon in pickups of the time. Originally offered with only a 3.0-liter V6, an entry-level 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine became available in 1994. A more powerful 3.4-liter V6 replaced the original 3-liter powerplant in 1995. At that time, an extended-cab body style, called Xtracab by Toyota, was also introduced.
The T100 is currently offered in a basic 2-wheel drive, 4- cylinder, standard cab model, and in Xtracab V6 form with 2- or 4- wheel drive in two trim levels. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on lower trim levels. The 4-speed automatic optional on those models is standard on the top-of-the line SR5. Option packages and standalone options are available for the usual degree of pickup customization, so that the T100 can please every need from a basic 4- cylinder work truck to a semi-luxurious 4-wheel drive Xtracab SR5, the subject of this week's road test.
The T100 Xtracab is much like a larger version of Toyota's compact Tacoma. Much larger. If it's not quite as big as some domestics, it's close. In top-level SR5 trim, it is a capable and comfortable machine for work and play.
APPEARANCE: The T100 was one of the first pickups to have some style. It hasn't changed much over the years, but has inspired the smaller Tacoma. It is a broad-shouldered, gently-sculpted truck with rounded corners and edges and prominent fender flares. The 4x4 model stands tall, especially on the optional 16-inch wheels and tires. The integrated mudflaps help give it that rugged off-road look, and keep mud off the sides. As is typical with pickups, there is a tradeoff between bed length and cab length. The Xtracab has a shorter bed than the regular cab model, but it's still 4 feet wide and 6 feet long.
COMFORT: Is the T100 really "full-sized"? Just climb up into the cab of the SR5 4x4 and you'll know that it is. Floor height is about two feet, but there are plenty of grab handles to aid access. Once inside, you'll look down on most other vehicles on the road. Interior appointments are to the same functional level as a middle-class Camry or Corolla. The velour-upholstered front bucket seats are firm, manually adjustable, and very comfortable. Gauges and controls are placed well in the very carlike instrument panel. The ignition key is placed away from the driver's knees for safety. Controls for the AM/FM/cassette sound system and heating and air conditioning are placed in the center of the instrument panel, where the driver and front passenger can reach them easily. No wimpy push-button 4-wheel drive system here - the T100 uses a sturdy direct-action lever on the low transmission tunnel. The front passenger seat moves forward easily for rear seat access. The rear bench is wide enough for three people, and has better headroom than and equivalent legroom to many compact or even midsized sedans.
SAFETY: Safety features on the T100 include a driver-side airbag, three-point seat belts on all outboard seats, side door impact beams, and an optional anti-lock braking system.
ROADABILITY: As might be expected from Toyota, the T100 SR5 is among the most refined and well-mannered pickups made even in hi- rider 4x4 form. Even unloaded, the ride not harsh or bouncy. The steering is light but not too light, making low-speed maneuvers easy while being stable at highway speeds. It has serious ground clearance - over 9 inches at the rear differential - and the exhaust pipe and air intakes are high to keep water out during stream crossings.
PERFORMANCE: The T100 has been criticized since its inception for not having a V8 engine. Did Toyota miss something by having only a V6? Not really, especially with the current 3.4-liter, 190-horsepower engine. It may not have the raw acceleration of a big-block domestic, but it is quick enough for any real-world situation. It can tow up to 5000 lbs, and has a payload capacity of 1900 lbs in 4x4 trim. The 4- speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission shifts with carlike smoothness.
CONCLUSIONS: The Toyota T100 is the Camry of pickups, combining hardworking ability and comfort.
SPECIFICATIONS Base Price $ 25,298 Price As Tested $ 28,056 Engine Type dual overhead cam, 24-valve V6 Engine Size 3.4 liters / 206 cu. in. Horsepower 190 @ 4800 Torque (lb-ft) 220 @ 3600 Transmission 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic Wheelbase / Length 121.8 in. / 209.1 in. Curb Weight 3630 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 19 Fuel Capacity 24 gal. Fuel Requirement unleaded regular, 87 octane Tires P265/70 R16 Dunlop Grand Trek Brakes, front/rear vented disc / drum Suspension, front/rear Hi-Trac independent with torsion bars / solid axle with leaf springs Ground Clearance 9.3 inches Drivetrain front engine, on-demand 4-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 16 / 17 / 16 0 to 60 mph 9.5 sec 1/4 mile (E.T.) 17.5 sec Towing Capacity 5000 lbs. OPTIONS AND CHARGES CA / NY / MA emissions $ 63 Premium 6-speaker audio system $ 160 Sport seat package - includes: fabric front sports seats and center console box $ 330 Aluminum alloy wheels, P265/70 R16 tires, and chrome wheel arch molding $ 715 Value package - includes: power windows, locks, & mirrors; air conditioning, cruise control, carpeted floor mats, chrome rear bumper, body side molding $ 2,446 Bedliner $ 299 Towing receiver hitch $ 325 Destination charge $ 420 Extra value package MSRP discount ($ 2,000)