2009 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4X4Posted on June 15th, 2009
Toyota’s mid-sized pickup gets enhanced safety features
By Nina Russin
When I was going to auto mechanic’s school in the mid-1980s, about half my classmates owned compact Toyota pickup trucks. The compact pickup wasn’t as large as the mid-sized Tacoma that replaced it, nor was it as fancy.
But it was durable to a fault. We used to joke that the only way to make the pickup’s 22R engine stop running was to take it out in the field and shoot it: starving the block for oil didn’t work.
Succeeding generations of Tacoma have maintained the legendary durability of its predecessors, adding significant safety enhancements, and a variety of cab configurations. There are eighteen available versions of the current model, including two engines, three transmissions and available four-wheel drive.
The test car is the double cab, with a 236-horsepower V6 engine and six-speed manual transmission. Having a four-wheel drive truck seemed like the perfect excuse to drive through Arizona’s north country. Not only do Sedona’s red rocks offer multiple off-road trails, the drive to the mountains would test the Tacoma’s fuel economy, with a 4000-foot elevation gain.
Manual transmissions, especially in pickup trucks, are ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ propositions. While it doesn’t have the stiffest clutch pedal or longest-throw shift lever I’ve seen, the manual transmission in the Tacoma is a lot of work. It isn’t particularly fun to stand on the clutch pedal in traffic, or jam the shift lever back and forth during rush hour.
On the other hand, the six-speed manual transmission offers those willing to put up with the inconvenience a significant fuel economy benefit. My average fuel economy after sixty miles of city driving and the uphill highway segment heading to Sedona was 18 miles-per-gallon: two better than the EPA estimate. For the record, I ran the air conditioner the entire time, and averaged about 80 miles-per-hour on the highway.
The largest overdrive gear not only saves gas, it maintains a surprising amount of engine power. There were two occasions when I had to downshift to pass other vehicles. Maintaining cruising speed on steep uphill grades was not a problem.
Around town, the V-6 engine has ample power. With 266 foot-pounds of torque, it excels in 20-to-50 mile-per-hour acceleration, and can haul trailers up to 6500 pounds with the optional towing package.
This year, Toyota is making the same star safety system featured on its hybrid cars standard equipment on the Tacoma. The system integrates antilock braking, vehicle stability and traction control to keep the wheels from locking up or spinning on wet roads. Active front headrests protect passengers from whiplash in the event of a rear impact collision.
A two-speed transfer case gives the four-wheel drive Tacoma extreme low gears for navigating on uneven trails. A TRD off-road package on the test car adds an off-road tuned suspension, locking rear differential and 16-inch alloy wheels in place of the standard steel rims. A front stabilizer bar keeps the chassis flat on uneven roads. Trail tires have larger void areas for enhanced traction off-road.
The standard suspension, a coil-over shock setup in front and leaf springs in back, is compliant enough to keep passengers comfortable around town. I didn’t notice any chatter from the rear axle when I drove the truck on the highway.
Rack-and-pinion steering provides plenty of assist at slower speeds while maintaining good response on the highway. The four-wheel drive truck has a turning radius of 44 feet: maneuvering in and out of tight parking spots can be a challenge.
Visibility to the front and sides of the truck is pretty good, but there are large blind spots to the rear due to its height and thick rear pillars. A backup camera displays a wide angle image behind the truck in the rearview mirror. While it’s helpful, the image is pretty small: obstacles can be difficult to see in low light conditions.
Inside, the Tacoma looks and feels much like a well-appointed passenger sedan. The double cab gives second-row passengers significantly more legroom than the access cab. Full-size rear doors ease access and egress to the back seats.
Bottle holders in all four doors and five standard cupholders are good news for warm weather denizens. There are two, twelve-volt power points at the base of the center stack for recharging portable electronic devices. A spacious center console bin is big enough for a small purse or pack. It’s hinged on the right side, making it easier for the driver to open, but difficult for the front passenger.
Steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls are part of the option package: they make it easier for the driver to control the sound and use the telephone without taking his eyes off the road. Audio and climate controls in the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position, and intuitive to operate.
An ambient temperature gauge on the overhead console comes in handy when driving in the mountains, where altitude changes can cause the temperature to fluctuate. The same display includes a compass function: handy on off-road trails.
I found the manual seat adjustments for the driver’s seat easy to use. Both front seats had plenty of lower back support for our 2-1/2 hour drives to and from Sedona. The second-row has plenty of room for two adult passengers. The floor tunnel and cupholders in back of the center console make the center position useless except for positioning a child seat.
The rear seats fold flat to create a large interior cargo area. To do so, one must first flip the seat bottoms forward and remove the headrests. Straps on the seat cushions and seatbacks make the operation pretty simple. With the seats folded flat the space in back large enough for luggage, camping equipment, and small gear.
The optional towing package adds a class 4 hitch, seven pin connector, supplemental oil cooler and heavy-duty battery. The TRD option package includes a tow hook and 115-volt outlet in the cargo bed. Tie-down hooks on the sides and floor of the cargo area make it easy to secure large items.
Base price on the test truck is $25,695, not including a $745 destination charge. Toyota builds the Tacoma at its NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California.
Likes: A versatile, safe pickup truck with full off-road capability. The six-speed manual transmission gives the V-6 Tacoma excellent fuel economy.
Model: Tacoma Double Cab 4X4 V-6
Base price: $25,695
As tested: $31,548
Horsepower: 236 Hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 266 lbs.-ft. @ 3800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 14/19 mpg city/highway
One response to “2009 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4X4”
The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
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