Final 12 months, Roadshow reviewed the 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport. That assessment targeted on the “truck stuff” — issues vehicles are literally constructed for, like hauling objects and venturing off the crushed path.

Now, it is time to assessment 2019 Tacoma TRD Sport, however as a substitute of doing the identical factor with a comparatively unchanged truck, I am flipping the script and seeing the way it performs as a way of life enhancer. With truck costs rising ever nearer to low Earth orbit, these autos must fill a number of roles, hauling gravel and people in equal measure.

Because it seems, a bit little bit of perspective goes a good distance. Whereas the 2019 Tacoma would possibly shine within the filth, in relation to each day duties, it might go away you searching for one thing a bit extra civilized.

Trying the half, for higher or worse

2019 marks the third mannequin 12 months of the Tacoma’s third era, however this truck nonetheless appears recent. My tester’s TRD Sport trim rocks blocky beauty — the fenders are appropriately flared, the high-riding entrance bumper belies some off-road credentials and the grille is definitely appropriately sized for the automobile (a rarity in late-model Toyotas). I am additionally smitten with the sunshine Cavalry Blue paint job, a delightfully atypical hue for a truck.

That ruggedness additionally makes its method to the inside, however not essentially in the easiest way. The inside feels mighty sturdy, which suggests it is principally made up of the toughest plastics attainable. It may be simple to scrub, however it additionally feels low cost and appears fully forgettable. That stated, the dials are chunky sufficient to work with gloved arms, and the buttons to activate the parking sensors and Qi wi-fi charging pad provide satisfying clicks with every push.

It is good to see a Toyota grille that hasn’t grown to devour all the entrance finish.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The upright nature of the Tacoma’s physique means visibility is great. Blind spots are minimal, and any that exist are lined by my tester’s $800 know-how package deal, which incorporates blind-spot monitoring. My tester additionally packs leather-trimmed seats, a part of a $2,890 premium package deal, and so they each feel and appear good. Each rows of seats in my tester’s crew-cab configuration provide loads of house, and the seats within the second row can flip up for added storage.

The driving place, alternatively, is awkward and irritating for taller drivers. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, however solely barely. Throw an absence of adjustable pedals into the combination, and my 6-foot body cannot discover a place the place my legs and arms are snug concurrently. Including additional motion to the steering column would go a good distance in enhancing the Tacoma’s each day drivability.

A combined bag on the highway

The Tacoma’s driving place hints on the mediocrity to return from its on-road demeanor. Round city, I am not left wanting for noise, vibration or harshness. Over bumps, the Tacoma acts like every other truck with an empty mattress, shimmying and bouncing and transferring all that motion to the occupants. The 265/65R17 Toyo Open Nation all-season truck tires are noisy, and so they combine with wind pace on the freeway, because of the truck’s building-shaped silhouette. The brakes do not precisely encourage confidence, both, with the pedal feeling prefer it’s half a step away from participating ABS even underneath regular braking.

The powertrain is best. The Tacoma’s non-obligatory three.5-liter V6 sounds good because it cranks out 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, and in my tester’s trim, it is going to contribute to a good 6,400-pound tow score. The six-speed automated transmission, alternatively, seems like a relic found throughout an archeological expedition — it clunks between gears, and it takes its candy time calling up decrease gears to speed up. Once more, it would not precisely encourage confidence in around-town driving.

Gas economic system is not nice, both. The EPA charges this spec of Tacoma at 18 miles per gallon metropolis and 22 mpg freeway, numbers I used to be in a position to meet with out a lot acutely aware effort. These figures are on the decrease finish within the midsize-truck phase, nonetheless, and I have been in a position to pull higher fuel-economy numbers from the full-size 2019 GMC Sierra with a 6.2-liter V8.

It is a bit laborious to get snug behind the wheel.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

A stunning quantity of security tech

Toyota has made nice efforts in providing its suite of energetic and passive driver aids in as many autos as attainable, and that features the Tacoma. Each trim of Tacoma comes with Toyota Security Sense P, which incorporates ahead collision warning, automated braking, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, automated excessive beams and adaptive cruise management. The methods work effectively — lane-departure warning is not aggressive, and it operates easily when adaptive cruise is activated.

That tools might be bolstered additional with the non-obligatory $800 tech package deal. This provides rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring, each of that are welcome additions on the midsize Tacoma. I do want, nonetheless, that the parking sensors prolonged to the entrance, because the hood ends abruptly, making tight parking maneuvers a bit tough. The usual backup digicam provides appropriate decision and discipline of view.

Toyota’s infotainment system, alternatively, would not actually transfer past “wonderful.” My tester packs the higher-tier, 7-inch touchscreen, providing fast-enough response and buttons giant sufficient to faucet with out being too distracting. It is a wonderful system, however it feels outdated when positioned subsequent to Entune three.Zero-equipped Toyotas like the brand new Camry. Two issues make me profoundly unhappy, although — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nowhere to be discovered, and the one method so as to add embedded navigation on my tester is by including the $2,890 premium package deal that additionally provides leather-based seats, automated local weather management and a moonroof.

Most of my time with the Tacoma was spent ignoring its three USB ports in favor of the non-obligatory Qi wi-fi cellphone charger. It is situated in an simply accessible tray within the heart console, and I particularly appreciated that it may very well be switched on or off, permitting you to stuff the tray with all method of junk in the event you do not all the time want to make use of it.

How I would spec it

My tester prices a whopping $41,200, which I feel is method an excessive amount of. To avoid wasting dough, I will begin with the SR5 trim, which begins at $31,615 with a crew cab and the shorter five-foot mattress. Including four-wheel drive brings that worth as much as $34,960. Bringing navigation and parking sensors into the fold provides simply $775 to the worth — a pleasant change of tempo from the TRD Sport’s costly premium package deal. That leaves us with a predestination worth of $35,465. It is nonetheless steep, however it’s higher than my tester.

Alternatively, for $37,720, you should buy a totally loaded 2019 RAV4 SUV with all kinds of goodies. It has a panoramic sunroof, Entune three.Zero, a hen’s-eye-view digicam system and a trip high quality that will not drive me insane.

All the way down to brass tacks

In comparison with different midsize vehicles, the Tacoma rests firmly midpack. It boasts some stable towing and off-road specs (method, departure and breakover angle), and each its dimension and tech complement are aggressive in a discipline that’ll quickly develop one thicker because of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

However when evaluating the Tacoma as a daily-life automobile, issues crumble. The all-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4 provides a suburban degree of functionality — and lined cargo house — for a worth that embarrasses many midsize vehicles. Homeowners who do not want the total tow score might simply transfer to a crossover and get 75 p.c of the truck expertise with a trip high quality that is 200 p.c higher. Or, in the event you’re actually useless set on a truck, you would go for the Honda Ridgeline, which has a extra livable unibody development and can nonetheless do most of what the body-on-frame boys can do.

When you want a truck for truck stuff, the Tacoma will not allow you to down. It is as dependable because the dawn and it is a lot succesful. But when nearly all of the time the truck will function a extra conventional conveyance, your cash is best spent in different segments.

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