5 Fixes for the 2020 Toyota Tacoma


The mid-size Toyota Tacoma has been the top-selling pickup truck in its class for about 15 years. During that time, the Tacoma has gone through one significant platform overhaul and several interior and exterior design "freshenings" to keep it updated.

Related: More 2019 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

During the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota revealed yet another freshened version of the Tacoma for the 2020 model year. Each trim level gets , Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and a bigger multimedia screen. Those are definitely necessary upgrades, but they may not enough to keep the all-new 2019 Ford Ranger and 2020 Jeep Gladiator at bay.

We believe the Tacoma has needed some upgrades for quite a while now, as do our colleagues at, who offered a "recipe" for changes to the popular mid-size truck. We'll build on their list of what we'd like to see for the 2020 Toyota Tacoma.


1. Drum Brakes in 2020? Really?

How Toyota can continue to stick with the old-school drum brakes when everyone else has moved to more powerful and tunable disc brakes doesn't make sense to us. We understand that using drum brakes cuts the production costs of 250,000-plus pickups each year, but at some point the truck will need to enter the 21st century.


2. Tighten the Transmission

The Tacoma's automatic transmission does not make good use of all the horsepower the engine delivers. When climbing a hill with payload in the bed, there can be a horribly wide dead spot in the rpm range that can bog the truck down and have you quickly slapping the gear shifter to manual mode to downshift in a hurry. It is critical to use the power button for the electronically controlled transmission to make the shifts quicker and hold the gears longer in just about every driving circumstance.


3. Offer More Special Editions

Toyota has had great success with its TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trim levels. But you'd think a truck that's this popular — and one that typically lands at the top of best-retained-value lists — could stretch a little and offer some special-edition models. Toyota could keep the special editions within the TRD franchise. Think TRD Tow, TRD Snow or even TRD San Antonio (where the truck is built). This stuff almost writes itself.


4. Improve Crawl Control

When the Tacoma's Crawl Control multiterrain management system debuted, the idea of using all the pre-existing anti-lock braking system and traction control sensors to improve traction while off-roading made perfect sense. It's only when you sit in the Tacoma and engage Crawl Control that it seems robotic and analog-like with all groaning and vibrating the chassis does. No doubt it's doing exactly what the computers have been programmed to do, but it pales in comparison to competitors' more refined systems.


5. Do Something Distinctive

Offer something no other mid-size pickup has, maybe something designed to help buyers do more of what they bought the truck for in the first place. Maybe unique access to the bed, self-deflating tires for better road/trail grip, a smart Tow/Haul mode that lets you know how much weight you're pulling. Just show us you want to give us more, so we can do more.

More From photos by Christian Lantry



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