New Car Review

1996 TOYOTA T100 V6 XTRACAB 4-WHEEL DRIVE PICKUP TRUCK

TOYOTA T100

by: CAREY and BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

Toyota trucks have been among the most popular small pickups for nearly as long as they have been sold in the United States. For more than 25 years, they have gotten many loyal repeat customers. There were, however, those who wanted a Toyota truck but needed something bigger than the traditional compact size. In the 1993 model year, Toyota made the T100 available especially for the North American market. Although it was closely related to the existing compact pickup in design and styling, it was somewhat larger, being only a little smaller than the full-sized American trucks. It was designed as a practical working truck with decent performance and fuel economy, and was originally offered with a 3-liter, 150-horsepower V6 engine.

Surprisingly, initial sales of the T100 were lower than expected. Had Toyota misread the truck market? The T100 was developed as a larger compact truck, not necessarily as direct competition to existing large trucks. Its target market was intended to be people moving up from compact trucks, yet most of those folks went directly to bigger, thirstier V8 trucks. The most common reasons given by large truck buyers for not choosing the T100 were the lack of an available V8 engine and that no extended-cab version was offered. Toyota didn't reach its respected position in the marketplace by ignoring potential customer desires, so in 1995 it made some changes to the T100. A spacious extended-cab model became available and a larger, more powerful V6 engine that gives performance parity with competitive V8s was offered. For 1996, the T100 model lineup has been simplified. We tried a V6 Xtracab T100 in 4-wheel drive form for a week and found it to be a comfortable, functional truck in a very convenient size.

APPEARANCE: When it was introduced a couple of years ago the T100 was touted as the first midsize pickup - bigger than the compacts, yet just a bit smaller than the full-sized trucks. It was also one of the first pickups be styled to appeal to crossover car buyers. The rounded lines of the hood and cab echo popular contemporary automobile styling, and the flared fenders give it just the right touch of truck toughness. Chrome bumpers and big all-purpose tires enhance both the truck image and working versatility. The Xtracab version gets its extra cab length at the expense of some bed length.

COMFORT: The T100 has been called the "Camry of pickup trucks", and is one of the most carlike examples of the genre inside. Serious soundproofing makes it quiet. With a 60/40 split bench in front and a semi-reclined, forward-facing rear bench seat, up to six people can be accommodated. The front seat is very comfortable. The rear is better than most but still best used by small people or for short distances. It does provide secure inside storage capability - one of the main reasons for the popularity of extended-cab pickups. The T100's recessed instrument panel is highly visible, and all controls are easy to reach. The shifter is mounted on the steering column so that three can sit in the front seat. Covered storage space and cupholders are abundant. The climate control and sound systems provide the correct temperature and excellent sound.

SAFETY: Safety features include a driver-side airbag, three-point seat belts on all outboard seats, side door impact beams, rugged body on frame construction, and an optional anti-lock braking system.

ROADABILITY: The 4-wheel drive T100 is a thoroughly modern pickup on pavement or a dirt road. The suspension does a very good job of controlling road shocks and without harshness or excessive bounciness. The T100 feels much like a family sedan with a very high driving position. Visibility is excellent. Ride quality is quite good, and, typically of pickups, improves with a moderate load in the bed. Handling is good, but, in common with other 4-wheel drive vehicles, the high stance and high center of gravity magnify any rolling motion when cornering.

PERFORMANCE: The T100 received some major powertrain improvements in the 1995 model year that carry over to 1996. A new 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with the same power rating as the original 3-liter V6 is the standard engine. That 3-liter V6 was replaced by an optional 3.4-liter V6 that produces 190 horsepower, 40 more than the previous 3-liter V6. It gives the T100 performance comparable to popular V8-powered pickups. Our test truck was equipped with this engine and a smooth-shifting 4-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission. This combination proved to work very well, with no lack of power. It can tow up to 5200 pounds, or 5000 in 4-wheel drive trim.

CONCLUSIONS: With the addition of a more-powerful engine and extended-cab models, the Toyota T100 pickup truck should appeal to more people.

SPECIFICATIONS:
1996 TOYOTA T100 V6 XTRACAB 4-WHEEL DRIVE PICKUP TRUCK

       Base Price             $ 24,478  
       Price As Tested        $ 27,704
       Engine Type            V-6, dohc - 24v, efi
       Engine Size            3.4 liter/207 cid   
       Horsepower             190 @ 4800
       Torque (lb/ft)         220 @ 3400
       Wheelbase/Length       122"/209"
       Transmission           four speed electronic automatic w/od
       Curb Weight            3950 lbs.
       Pounds per Horsepower  23.8
       Fuel Capacity          24.0 gal.
       Fuel Requirement       Unleaded regular (87 oct)
       Tires                   P235/65R 15 m+s
       Brakes                 vented disc/drum, 4-wheel ABS optional
       Drive Train            front engine/rear or four wheel drive
       Trailer Capacity (lbs) 5000
       
                    PERFORMANCE
       
       EPA Economy - miles per gallon
         city/highway/observed     17/24/20.3     
       0 to 60 mph                 9.4 sec.
       1/4 mi (E.T.)               17.3 sec.
       Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)   0.41

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