New Car/Review

TOYOTA

1999 TOYOTA TACOMA 4X4 LIMITED

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,028
Price As Tested                                    $ 27,502
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"/202.3"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     3451 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  18.0 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                        P265/75R15 mud and snow          
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content                                 40 percent          
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                            17/19/18          
0-60 MPH                                        8.5 seconds
Maximum payload capacity                        1644 pounds
Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds
* Electronic fuel injection

(Bob Hagin says that Toyota is a leader in the building of compact pickup trucks. Matt Hagin adds that it's been that way for 35 years.)

BOB -The Tacoma was a new design in '95 and Toyota only made some cosmetic changes since then. The company used to give their pickups names like Scout and Hilux and after a long absence, it has gone back to that practice by using the name Tacoma. Toyota made a lot of changes to the truck both under the hood as well as to the suspension and body in that '95 changeover but things have gotten even better since then.

MATT - and the frames are produced a short distance away. Even the double-wall beds are made in Southern California, so it's almost solely a West Coast product. The facility is a joint venture between Toyota and GM, and the one-millionth Toyota made at the plant was a red Tacoma. In a grand gesture, Toyota donated it to a local wildlife sanctuary.

BOB - Tacomas can be had in many different configurations such as an extra-cab, two or four-wheel-drive, six or four cylinders and manual or automatic transmission. Our tester was the top dog; a big cab, the high-tech V6 engine but a five-speed manual transmission. It also had the Toyota Racing Development off-road package which includes Bilstein shocks, gaudy graphics on the rear of the bed and a lockable rear posi-traction differential that is only usable when the truck is in four-wheel-drive and low range. This combination makes the truck a real stump-puller, although I don't think that many of these fancy wagons will ever see farm duty.

MATT - In '95 Toyota developed the V6 that was in our test rig. It was larger than the one it replaced and more powerful, pumping out a whopping 190 ponies and 220 pound feet of torque. This is the engine that was used in Toyota's discontinued T100 but the design is versatile enough to be the standard engine for the new full-sized Toyota Tundra pickup as well as an option in our Tacoma. The Tacoma two-wheel drive has a 2.4 liter four cylinder engine as standard equipment while the 4X4 version has a four-cylinder that's slightly larger. But the unit to have in both is the V6. It's all-aluminum and sports double overhead cams and four-valves per cylinder. It also uses lots of technical innovations.

BOB - Like all pickups, the Tacoma was very light in the rear, so the anti-lock brake system is a necessity for everyday driving. With a loaded tool box in back, the ride improves but it's still not a Boulevard Cruiser. And while the payload isn't as much as full-sized pickups, parking it in tighter quarters is much easier. Four-by-four pickups are hot on the market despite the bashing they from environmentalists. Toyota wants to be a player in that market and it's closing the gap. However, it's still not even close to being Number One or even Number Two. Those crowns go to the full-sized American pickups.

MATT -I appreciated the switch that allows the passenger side air bag to be deactivated for small passengers. Little Sophie likes to be a "big girl" and ride up front with me, especially when her little sister Sarah has to sit in back. Those postage stamp-sized back seats are suitable for kids but the real advantage of a long cab is that it provides a place to lock up stuff that you don't want ripped off. When we use a pickup to go skiing, I don't have to leave my ski boots in back. And when it's raining down here and snowing up there, it's nice to slip into boots that are dry and at room temperature.

BOB -Ihe towing capacity of our Tacoma is high for a compact pickup at 5000 pounds and at around three-quarters of a ton the payload is great. And over the rough stuff off-road, the ride is phenomenal. Huge bumps and washes are handled with ease, and there is hardly any rattles anywhere. One criticism I have is the location of the cup holders - they're in the wrong spot, right in front of the climate controls and the air vents. The seats are very flat, but they had pretty good side bolsters support.

MATT -I could be comfortable driving all day in those seats, Dad.

BOB -I'd prefer something smoother - like a Lexus LS 400.

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