My Week With A Toyota Tacoma Has Me Rethinking My Affinity For Fast Hatchbacks

I always knew the Tacoma was a great truck...but now I really get it.

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Image for article titled My Week With A Toyota Tacoma Has Me Rethinking My Affinity For Fast Hatchbacks
Image: Tom McParland


I’ve always preferred smaller cars. I like the responsiveness, the ease of parking, and the fuel economy. But this week I had the opportunity to cruise around in a new Toyota Tacoma and part of me really wants to keep this truck.

Our Honda Odyssey was damaged in a fender bender and, after weeks of waiting for parts, the body shop was ready to do the repairs. Luckily the damage was primarily cosmetic and the van was drivable until we were ready to fix it. My GEICO policy gives me rental coverage but I figured that given the prices of rentals nowadays the $50/day stipend probably would go very far so I didn’t really explore it when I submitted the claim. A few days before I was scheduled to drop off the van I got a call from the local Enterprise office asking if I would be interested in a rental and I expressed my concerns that it would likely be too expensive, that is when they informed me that I would be getting discounted rates by using the insurance program and they would have a number of models available for under $50/day.

I fired up the Geico app and sure enough, I could rent a variety of cars and not have any out-of-pocket rental costs. I figured this would be a good opportunity to drive something different so I selected a “pickup truck.” I was greeted at the body shop by an Enterprise agent who said “We have you a Durango because we figured you wanted a three-row replacement for your van.” I told her I had requested a pickup on the app, and after a phone call back to the office she said, “We have a Tacoma; will that work?” While a part of me wanted to be a BIG TRUCK MAN, I was glad it was a mid-sizer since parking and refueling would be a bit more manageable. We go back to the office and I am handed the keys to a 2022 Tacoma SR5 V6 4x4 Double Cab with a 5ft bed.

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My primary reason for getting the truck is I needed to clear stuff from a house my wife and I recently inherited from my late father-in-law. We were fortunate to find a buyer quickly, but that also meant a few trips to the dump, to clean out 30 years of stuff from an old shed. That was a task that neither the Odyssey nor the GTI would be ideal for.

Once the shed got taken care of it was off to the garden center to stock up on the soil. My wife is an avid gardener and is constantly planting and repotting things throughout the season. It was nice to throw bags of dirt in the bed and not have to worry about it spilling inside the van. As a bonus task to my “truck stuff” duties I was called to give a jump to a family member’s older Tundra that had a dead battery.

Image for article titled My Week With A Toyota Tacoma Has Me Rethinking My Affinity For Fast Hatchbacks
Photo: Tom McParland

I knew the truck would come in handy this week, but I didn’t anticipate how much I enjoyed driving it, especially since it is essentially the complete opposite of my 2015 manual GTI. I’m used to the brisk acceleration of my turbocharged four-cylinder so I figured the V6 in the Taco would be adequate but nothing special. Merging onto the highway the 3.5-liter motor shoved my butt back into the seat with more force than I expected. The handling is expected for a pickup, but the ride was smooth, and maneuvering the Tacoma around was easier than I thought it would be. However, since I wasn’t quite used to the sightlines and size I was a bit more strategic about choosing parking spaces.

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The interior of Tacoma is where it really shines. Everything was simple and it just worked. All the controls were in the right place and I really appreciated being able to use the A/C knobs without having to take my eyes off the road. As that is one of the more frustrating aspects of my Honda’s screen-based infotainment system. Maybe I’m getting old but I found driving the Tacoma…relaxing.

Image for article titled My Week With A Toyota Tacoma Has Me Rethinking My Affinity For Fast Hatchbacks
Photo: Tom McParland
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According to Toyota’s website, the Tacoma I drove has an MSRP of $37,575, you can add a few options and push an SR5 well over the $40,000 mark. As impressed as I was with this pickup I don’t think I am quite ready to trade the paid-off VW for a new Tacoma. But if I was a buyer in the market for a pickup who wanted something that feels “just right” given the Tacoma’s reputation for rock-solid build quality … it’s still a good value even for a “basic” truck.