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Truck Review: 2005 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 4x4

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)



MODEL: Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 4X4
ENGINE: 4.0-liter V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 245 hp @ 5,200 rpm/282 lb.-ft. @ 3,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE: 121.9 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 202.9 x 66.5 x 63.5 in.
TIRES: P265/65R17
ECONOMY: 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway/14.8 mpg test
PRICE: $28,038

Editor’s Note: CLICK HERE and rank the Toyota Tacoma specs against its competition, have fun!

The Toyota Tacoma is, by definition, a standard pickup truck. In fact, it's a compact truck and the Tundra is the standard size. However, in this world of bigger-is-better, the Tacoma has become the standard and the Tundra is large, in the same class as the Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150. And yes, Virginia, they get bigger.

But our focus today is on the extended (or access) cab Tacoma. This is the standard cab Tacoma with a pair of jump seats in the rear that are accessible through a pair of access doors, rather than regular doors. The difference is that access doors have the handles inside the cab and not outside, regular doors have them on both sides.

As seats these jumpers aren't the best, and can function as seats only for small children. However, they can be folded easily to provide a flat shelf that's great for carrying boxes, a pair of cat carriers, or Christmas presents after a day of shopping.

The bed has tie-downs all over, including four davits that look like the tie-downs boats use at a pier. The davits also served as plastic grocery bag holders and worked nicely. While we're in the bed, there is a 110-volt outlet back there to power accessories or tools that you may bring along. This is a nice feature and is part of the TRD Sport Package #2 that costs $4,565. Other items in the package include: a sport suspension; 17-inch wheels and tires; limited slip differential; fog lamps; Class 4 hitch; supplemental oil cooler; heavy duty battery; sport seats; power windows, door locks and mirrors; and a lot of other goodies. The bed mat added $119 to the price and an AM/FM/Cd with 6-disc in-dash changer added another $200.

The extra volume also serves another useful purpose. One of my sons-in-law had a Tacoma with the regular cab. He always said he wanted the extended cab, but bought the regular cab instead. Well, one morning on the way to work, he was hit head-on by an 18-wheeler. Fortunately, both were traveling at relatively low speeds to avoid an earlier accident. The airbags did go off, though, and my son-in-law was almost asphyxiated by the powder that surrounds the airbag to keep it from sticking together and allows it to expand quickly.

The extended offers more interior volume for that powder to disperse and make it easier to breathe right after an accident. Incidentally, both drivers were essentially uninjured in the accident, and both vehicles suffered about equal damage, although the Tacoma was totaled and exchanged for an extended cab version.

Our tester was equipped for 4-wheel driver and had a 245 hp 4.0-liter V6 engine. When in 2WD mode, the engine drove the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. I have to say that I didn't like the gearbox the first time I shifted and it never got any better. Shifting was like stirring oatmeal. I was never confident that the gear I wanted to be in was the gear I was going to be in. I did like the "beep" that sounded when I shifted into reverse, though. It wasn't the annoying continuous "beep-beep…" of trucks, but just enough to tell you where you were.

The engine had more than enough power for the relatively light truck. We had a lot of rain in the week I had the Tacoma and we were constantly spinning the rear wheels on acceleration. I eventually learned how to modulate my right foot, but it was a learning experience.

Inside, the sport seats were quite comfortable. Front passengers had their choice of three cupholders, while there were two cupholders for the rear passengers.

Some testers feel that the Tacoma's suspension is bouncy, but we didn't feel that way. Granted, most of our driving was on-road, but we hit our share of rough spots that didn't give a bouncy feel. Nor did the Tacoma give a boat-like ride on the highway.

We took the Tacoma on our favorite mountain road that has more twists and turns than a politician's promises. The Tacoma took to the turns like a champ. I wished I had a "g-meter" like I did in the Cadillac CTS-V to see how many G's I was pulling on some of the turns. The Tacoma is a good twisty road vehicle.

Except for the wishy-washy gear shift, I Was impressed with the Tacoma. Personally, I think the size is about right, although I don't use a pickup for work to appreciate the larger trucks as much as I might. The Tacoma had size, practicality and we understand a good resale value, if you don't break it.

2004 The Auto Page Syndicate