By Cars.com EditorsOctober 1, 2019
About the video
The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling mid-size pickup in the land, by a significant margin, and has been for 13 years, according to the automaker. Will its update for the 2020 model year be enough to keep it in the top spot in this popular class?
(upbeat music) For the 2020 model year, Toyota has made some changes to the perennially popular Tacoma mid-size pickup truck. Now, these aren't big changes, they've only changed a couple of little things.
This isn't a full on redo, or even very much a thorough refresh, this is just Toyota changing a couple of little things as Japanese automakers do to make a vehicle better over its lifetime. And so, we've come down here to blistering hot North Texas to see if the little changes Toyota has made to the 2020 Tacoma, have resulted in a better Tacoma. On the outside, not much has changed, there's some new grills up front and the top trim levels have new led headlights with sequential turn signals that look pretty slick. Nearly every trim level of Tacoma gets a redesigned grill that's unique to its trim, and all Tacoma's get new taillight designs. Models like this TRD Pro, the ultimate off-road Tacoma can be had with accessories like this dust snorkel designed to put cleaner air out of a possible dust cloud into the engine. But the bigger news for the looks on the 2020 Tacoma is the color. Gone is the eye-popping voodoo blue that was the exclusive color for the 2019 TRD Pros and in its place is the new army green, which looks exactly like the color of the little plastic army soldiers you might've played with as a kid. And I gotta say it, it looks pretty fantastic on any of the new 2020 TRD Pro models. Under the hood nothing has changed except for the availability of Toyota safety sense P system, which has been made standard across the board and all new Tacoma's. This system brings a number of electronic driver's safety aides to the party, including a pre-collision autonomous braking system with pedestrian detection, high-speed dynamic radar, cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams. Power is still provided by either a standard 159 horsepower, 2.7 liter four cylinder engine, or the optional 278 horsepower Atkinson cycle V6, which is standard on the top trim models. A six speed automatic transmission comes with either engine, or you can opt for a six speed manual on some V6 models. My time on the 2020 Tacoma was entirely in the top off-road TRD Pro-Trump, which comes with a host of off-road specific gear like Fox two and a half inch internal bypass shocks, TRD tuned Springs front and rear, a one inch lift, Kevlar reinforced Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires on 16 inch wheels, and Rigid Industry's led fog lights. Out on the street the TRD pro is really not in its happy place, it's stiff it's rather bouncy, the steering is slow and a bit heavy and it dips and wallows as you go and stop it. This is kind of to be expected, it's a purpose built off road truck. Other versions of the Tacoma, such as The Limited are much more civilized on-road. Last year Toyota updated the 2019 model with some better sound insulation so at least it's not overly loud inside. You can hear the sonorous V6 through the TRD Pros unique Cat-Back exhaust very clearly, but it's well tuned and not obnoxious at highway cruising speeds. Toyota worked to make the Tacoma a bit more friendly inside for 2020 as well. With two other changes, making the cabin a bit more inviting, first is the availability of a new 10 way power seat that also includes a height adjustment, but Tacoma cabin has always been criticized for its awkward driving position, which makes you feel like you're sitting on the floor. It despite that low placement, but tight overhead confines always saw me hitting my head hard up against the headliner in any Tacoma that had a moon roof. Well, not anymore, thanks to the new adjustable driver's seat I can drive without wedging my head hard up against the ceiling. It's still not the most comfortable driving position in the industry, other newer trucks definitely have that Tacoma beat on ergonomics, but it is an improvement. The other big interior improvement is the arrival of Apple CarPlay and Android auto for the new eight inch multimedia screen. Toyota has finally joined the rest of the industry and offering these systems and more of its new vehicles and it's a welcome change from the rather primitive Toyota multimedia system. I only wish the screen resolution of the new system was better. Using the nifty multi terrain and panoramic view monitors the forward and side facing trail cameras on the TRD Pro model, it's a questionable utility given that it's actually hard to make out what you're looking at. The forward facing cameras on the new Jeep Gladiator are frankly better. Where the Tacoma shines is off road just like the last version we tested, this latest TRD Pro model is an absolute champion in the dirt. It's high ground clearance, robust suspension, chunky tires, and myriad electronic aids all served to make the thing a blast at super slow rock crawling speeds, or slightly elevated dry lake bed speeds. It's no raptor however, you'll find yourself limiting how fast you go over broken terrain because the rear end tends to bottom out with a bang and moderate speed bumps. But it's still light and tossable in the dust, powerful and purposeful in the mud and climbs over obstacles with ease, thanks to its electronic crawl control, which acts as something of an off-road cruise control. So the changes between the 2019 and the 2020 Tacoma are really pretty minor. Yeah, it's a little bit better, it's a little bit more comfortable you've got a better multimedia system as well, but frankly, if you're looking at a 19 and a 20 on a dealer lot, you should probably just go with the one that you can get a better deal on. Now, if that power seat and that new multimedia system do sway you, well, the 2020 would probably be your better option. If you'd like to find out more about the new 2020 Tacoma or any of the new lineup of 2020 Toyota pickup trucks come look us up at PickupTrucks.com.