Toyota introduces its first pickup with four conventional doors for 2001, the Tacoma Double Cab. The Tacoma is Toyotas compact pickup, and it previously came only in regular-cab and extended-cab (called Xtracab) models with two front doors.
The Double Cab competes with four-door crew cabs from Chevrolet, Dodge, GMC and Nissan, and the Explorer Sport Trac, a four-door sport utility vehicle with an open cargo bed.
Also new for 2001 is the sporty S-Runner Xtracab, a two-wheel-drive model lowered 2 inches for a low-rider look. The S-Runner also includes body-color features on the grille, front and rear bumpers, lower side trim, door handles and mirrors.
Toyota added stepside versions of the regular cab and Xtracab with flared rear fenders in spring 2000. All 2001 models wear a restyled front end with a new grille, raised hood and multireflector headlamps.
The regular cab is 184 inches long on a 103-inch wheelbase, and the Xtracab is 203 inches long on a 122-inch wheelbase. Both have a 6.2-foot cargo bed. The new Double Cab is the same size as the Xtracab, but because it has a larger interior, the cargo bed shrinks to 5 feet.
About 20 percent of Tacoma sales are PreRunner models, which have two-wheel drive but are gussied up to look like 4x4 off-roaders. Standard features include higher ground clearance, mudguards and all-terrain tires.
Bucket seats are standard on the Xtracab Limited and Double Cabs and optional on other models, which come with a standard three-place bench. Xtracabs also have two rear jump seats. The Double Cab has a split, three-place rear bench that folds for extra cargo room.
The dashboard is well designed and convenient except for one big flaw: In their extended position, the slide-out dual cupholders block the climate controls.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available on the Tacoma. The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and the first step up is a 150-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder. The top engine choice is a 3.4-liter V-6 with 190 hp.
The 4WD system on all Tacomas this year is 4WDemand, which allows shifting into 4WD High at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour with a floor-mounted transfer-case lever. A dashboard switch to engage 4WD is optional. Four-wheel antilock brakes are optional on all models.
The rear doors on the Double Cab are narrow and hard to gracefully negotiate on high-riding 4WD models, but the rear seat has enough legroom for taller folks. Toyotas 2.4-liter four-cylinder is weak and noisy, while the 2.7-liter engine is adequate in these trucks. The smooth, potent V-6 is the way to go if you can afford the extra cost. Tacomas are more expensive than comparably equipped domestic pickups.
Where the Tacoma scores big points is in overall refinement and quality; these are well-made trucks that should be reliable and durable. Over time, the higher purchase price may prove to be worth it.