Once again, the Toyota Tacoma easily outclasses all other compact pickup trucks in reviews. Its low base price, reliable build and something-for-everyone configurations make it a practical pick, experts say, unless you need the roomier backseat of the midsize 2011 Honda Ridgeline (Base MSRP: $29,150 to $34,730) or the heavy-duty hauling and towing capacity of the full-size 2011 Ford F-150 (Base MSRP: $22,790 to $51,525). Toyota hasn't changed the Tacoma much in the past couple of years. For a detailed review of this vehicle, see our page on the 2009 Toyota Tacoma.
For 2011, the Tacoma gets standard air conditioning, bucket seats on all but the 4x4 regular cab version, an optional automatic transmission for the base engine, a couple of off-road options packages and redesigned grilles on some trims. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy estimates have shifted slightly, ranging from 21 mpg city/25 mpg highway/22 mpg combined with the base four-cylinder engine, manual transmission and rear-wheel drive to 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway/15 mpg combined with the optional V6 engine, manual transmission and four-wheel drive.
The federal government has strengthened its crash tests for 2011, and the Tacoma doesn't score as highly as before. The crew-cab version -- the only one tested when we checked -- earns 3 stars (out of 5) for frontal-crash protection, 5 stars in side crashes and 4 stars for rollover resistance and overall. In independent crash tests at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Tacoma earns the highest rating of Good for front-, side- and rear-crash protection but rates only Marginal for rollover roof strength. Standard safety features include antilock brakes with brake assist; traction and stability control; front, front-side and curtain airbags; and active front head restraints.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma comes in base (Base MSRP: $16,365 to $27,525), rugged rear-wheel-drive PreRunner (Base MSRP: $21,315 to $24,450) and street-oriented X-Runner (Base MSRP: $25,735) trims, with three cab styles (regular, extended and crew) and either a 5- or 6-foot bed.
Edmunds.com lists the minor changes to the 2011 Toyota Tacoma. Editors say the Toyota Tacoma dominates the midsize pickup segment, with sturdiness, dependability and comfort that beat the Nissan Frontier and Suzuki Equator and far outshine all American pickups this size.
Review: 2011 Toyota Tacoma, Editors of Edmunds.com
This chart shows crash ratings for small pickups. The 2011 Toyota Tacoma proves only marginal in rollover roof-strength tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but aces its front-, side- and rear-crash tests.
Review: Small Pickups, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The federal government strengthened its crash tests this year, and only the crew-cab version has been tested. It earns 3 stars for frontal-crash protection, a perfect 5 stars in side crashes and 4 stars for rollover resistance and overall, in both rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations.
Review: 2011 Toyota Tacoma, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
FuelEconomy.gov lists mileage estimates for the 2011 Toyota Tacoma and other small pickups. The Tacoma lands in the top three in its class for fuel economy.
Review: 2011 Small Pickup Trucks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy
The Toyota Tacoma has changed little since 2009, so this full review of that model is still valid. Links lead to a variety of expert tests of the Tacoma.
Review: 2009 Toyota Tacoma, Editors of ConsumerSearch, June 2009