New Car/Review


Toyota Tacoma S-Runner (2001)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 17,905
     Price As Tested                                    $ 21,234
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.4 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 206 cid/3378 cc
     Horsepower                                   190 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               220 @ 3600 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  121.9"/66.5"/203.1"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     2800 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  15.8 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           235/55R16 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/22/20         

     0-60 MPH                                       16.0 seconds
     Towing capacity                                 5000 pounds
     Maximum payload                                 1375 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

Toyota's basic compact pickup anchored the company to the U.S. truck market. Now called Tacoma, it comes in many forms and the new Xtracab in sporty S-Runner trim is the subject of this week's test.

OUTSIDE - The S-Runner is all about looks. Based on the reliable Tacoma extended cab two-wheel drive, Toyota paints virtually every exterior part the same color as the rest of the body to give it a monochromatic look. And as part of an options group, an extended front valance panel and side skirts just under each door makes it look lower to the ground. A chrome-tipped tailpipe and unique badging completes the S-Runner package. This year, all Tacomas have a new look with a new front fascia and grille and a slightly raised hood. Like the new Tacoma, S-Runner can be had with either a standard fleetside bed or with the optional stepside. Multi-reflector headlights and jeweled taillights are also new this year. The standard wheel/tire combination is a set of 16-inch five-spoke alloys with P235/55 performance tires.

INSIDE - The Tacoma has a no-nonsense, fully functional interior. New this year are sculpted door panels that give a bit more elbow room, along with a user-friendly electric rotary knob for the climate control system and a four-spoke steering wheel. S-Runner's interior is also color-keyed with the body, and features such items as front sport seats with a driver's side powered lumbar control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, white-faced instruments, intermittent wipers and a rear console storage box. As a reward for choosing the S-Runner, Toyota offers a specially-priced options package that includes power windows and door locks, air conditioning, deluxe stereo and a sliding rear window. Like all other Tacoma extended cabs, there are small fold-up jump seats in back, with three-point safety belts for the outboard passengers and a fold-out table with integrated cupholders. This also has the ability to accommodate a child safety seat with a top tether anchor for added security. We lament that fact that Tacoma doesn't come with extra doors to make access to the rear easier.

ON THE ROAD - Tacoma is offered with either one of two four-cylinder engines: a 2.4-liter or a 2.7-liter, but standard S-Runner power comes from a 3.4-liter double overhead-cam V6. It's an all-aluminum design, with 24 valves and a sophisticated electronic fuel injection system. Its 190 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque is enough to move Tacoma with authority, but for those looking for some added excitement, a dealer-installed supercharger can be ordered that boosts power to 260. All three engines benefit from a coil-on-plug, distributorless ignition system that gives more accurate ignition timing and aids the misfire detection system. The standard gearbox is a five-speed manual that is smooth-shifting, while an electronically-controlled four-speed automatic is optional.

ON THE ROAD - All Tacoma models ride on a typical truck chassis. It has a full ladder-type frame with independent front coil-spring suspension, and a solid rear axle that rests on leaf springs. S-Runner extras include sports tuning of the springs, special front and rear stabilizer bars, Tokico-brand gas-pressurized shock absorbers, denser bushings and stiffer rack-and-pinion steering. Also, the ride height has been lowered by an inch from the standard Tacoma 4X2. All this, in addition to the standard Bridgestone Potenza performance-level tires, gives the S-Runner a surprisingly agile feel on the road, with minimal tire scrub and very little oversteer. Braking duties are handled by front disc and rear drum brakes, with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) optionally available.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags with a passenger-side cutoff switch, side-impact door beams and front seat belt pretensioners are standard. ABS is optional.

OPTIONS - ABS, $590; tilt-up moonroof, $390; Sports Package, (power windows, door locks, uplevel stereo, air conditioning, personal interior lighting, sliding rear window, digital clock) $2,000; floor mats, $70; bedliner, $299.


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