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Consumer Reports Calls 2017 Toyota Tacoma "Worst Buy"– Here’s What Really Bothers Them

Consumer Reports issues a confusing report panning the top-selling midsize truck in America. Here is a detailed breakdown on why the group dislikes the 2017 Toyota Tacoma.

Consumer Reports announced the ten worst vehicles in ten separate categories this past week and the 2017 Toyota Tacoma made that list. Consumer Reports says that their conclusions about which vehicles were the worst are based on scores across ten categories. The group says the conclusions are a combination of;
- Results From Its Owner Reliability Surveys
- Results From Owner Satisfaction Surveys
- Safety
- Consumer Reports Road Test Scores

That does not add up to ten, but it may not matter in the case of the Tacoma’s inclusion on the list of 10 worst vehicles to buy. Before we go too far, let’s break down the Tacoma’s results in the above categories as reported by the group itself, and in the case of safety, IIHS and NHTSA's findings.

Consumer Reports – Tacoma Owner Reliability Survey Results
In its summary of the Tacoma’s reliability survey results, the group uses color coded Icons that represent a score from “Better” to “Worse.” There are 17 categories. The 2017 model Tacoma is not shown, but the 2016 model, which has been on sale for about 18 months, is the same truck (same generation - no changes) and is rated. In the 17 categories, Tacoma Scored 13 “Better” icons, the highest possible rating. Those included both engine categories, Transmission Major, Electrical, Suspension, Brakes, and Body Hardware. In the remaining 4 categories, Tacoma scored the second highest icon possible for Transmission Minor and Drive System. In the last two remaining categories, the Tacoma scored the middle icon. Not a single red icon, not a single score below the middle icon. Consumer Reports lists an overall score above this list and it shows a double red icon. How this conclusion was reached is not explained. Below the chart there are the TSBs and recalls for this model listed in detail. There are none for the 2017 model or the 2016 model year. The Tacoma's prior two years summaries, 2015 and 2014 trucks, are almost entirely double green arrows and the Tacoma scores the highest icon overall.

There is more evidence that Consumer Reports got this call wrong when it comes to reliability. In the group’s review of the 2016 Tacoma (again, the same vehicle as the 2017), the reviewer says regarding the Tacoma’s Reliability “This beast of burden has a bulletproof reliability track record, a tough-as-nails chassis, and a durable composite-­plastic bed.” In the review summary, there are “Highs” and “Lows” listed. Under Highs, Consumer Reports wrote, “Fuel economy, resale value, reliability, off-road capability.” How can a vehicle with “Bullet-Proof reliability” which includes among its highs “reliability” also have poor reliability?

CR Owner Satisfaction Survey Results – Tacoma
In the video report below you will hear the narrator (who the author considers a friend) say that the Tacoma has “…only average owner satisfaction.” The problem is that this is incorrect according to Consumer Reports on-line summary of the Tacoma. In that summary, the 2017 Tacoma is listed as earning three out of five bars on the scale given, which is shown with the printed word “Good” above the scale. The Tacoma does not have “only average” owner satisfaction, it actually has earned a Consumer Reports score of “Good” regarding owner satisfaction. (More on pages 2 and 3)

There is one more problem with Consumer Reports conclusion and the summary of the Tacoma in the video below. In the video, it is said that, “…In the small truck category, it (Tacoma) rates as the worst…” The problem here is that in this segment, which includes the Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Honda Ridgeline, Consumer Reports has not fully evaluated all the vehicles. A close look at the Nissan Frontier’s summary on Consumer Reports shows that the group has not given the 2017 Frontier an overall score, and has not road tested the truck. Furthermore, its owner satisfaction results are shown as “Fair.” Predicted reliability is shown as “Average.” A comparison of the 2016 Frontier’s detailed owner reliability results shows that the truck has almost identical scores to the Tacoma’s. 14 green double arrows, two single green arrows, and an average icon. This earns the Frontier an “average icon” for overall reliability.

Consumer Reports Road Test - Tacoma
The Tacoma scored very low on the road test done by Consumer Reports. On-road the truck is not at all like most vehicles and may indeed be the “worst” of all the midsize pickups. However, 40% of all Tacoma buyers drive their new truck home with added off-road options. In its review, Consumer Reports mentions this, saying. “For off-roading adventures, the capable Tacoma has few peers.” The review also pointed out that the Tacoma is “…perfect truck for landscapers and contractors.”

Safety - Tacoma
Safety is not a problem for Tacoma. In both IIHS crash tests conducted, the current generation truck scored “Good.” On the NHTSA tests, the Tacoma earns four or five stars on every evaluation.

As we have shown, the actual reliability of this truck is excellent. The Tacoma is the top-selling Midsize truck in America. It is the truck with the highest resale value overall, and aside from a discontinued Toyota model, the highest resale value of any vehicle for sale in America. According to iSeeCars, Tacoma owners keep their truck over ten years 1.7 times more than the average vehicle owner does (second among midsize trucks overall). Are these the credentials of a vehicle that is one of the ten worst vehicles in America?

Tacoma - Incorrect Conclusions?
Consumer Reports is basing its conclusion of the 2017 Tacoma on reasons not mentioned in the video report about the worst vehicles in ten categories. The group has reason to believe that the Tacoma has some underlying issues that make its predicted reliability a problem. Consumer Reports says of its predictions on reliability "Our extensive survey data, combined with our technical knowledge, allows us to expertly predict the reliability of new and redesigned models."

Consumer Reports has never been a fan of the Tacoma, and our report on its 2015 review of the prior-generation of the Tacoma explains that history. Torque News has reached out to Consumer Reports and asked if the group is willing to share more details on why it has come to the conclusion that the Tacoma has a poor predicted reliability. We hope to share that information if it becomes available.

Note: Our story includes embedded links to the specific Consumer Reports on-line pages we reference in the story. However, Consumer Reports is a subscription-only publication. Therefore, non-members may find that links fail or are redirected.


Carlos O. Rodriguez (not verified)    March 8, 2017 - 12:43PM

You have made a strong argument that consumer reports has a proven record of bias against the Tacoma. Either they do not understand its place in the market or they are willingly ignoring it. Regardless, they are not being objective and transparent. On the other hand, consumers seem to love the Tacoma and that is what ultimately matters.

Mark (not verified)    March 8, 2017 - 12:52PM

If you consider CR a good source of information when shopping for a new truck, you deserve this level of ambiguity and outright bias.

Mark Day (not verified)    March 8, 2017 - 4:12PM

Another anomaly – Consumer Reports, in my view, is always overrating Subarus. Subaru had/has
a major engine oil consumption defect, with a resulting class action lawsuit, not mentioned in CR.

Bryan W (not verified)    March 8, 2017 - 10:02PM

I wonder how much Chevy and/or Ford is paying CR to skew their results. It's obvious that their opinion is biased. CR has been bought out and worthless for years.

Rich M (not verified)    November 16, 2017 - 11:30PM

In reply to by Bryan W (not verified)

I own a 2017 with just about 10K miles and this truck has definite issues regarding the transmission and rear differential. I thought it was just mine but look around at the reviews and you'll see that a lot of people are having the same problem. Transmission "hunts" for the right gear, constantly shifting and rear diff. makes a lot of noise. Many people are complaining of the rear differential leaking (I haven't had that issue yet) but I won't be surprised if it happens soon. The transmission however is the biggest problem - makes the engine feel sluggish and unresponsive.

Frank (not verified)    November 20, 2017 - 9:42AM

In reply to by Rich M (not verified)

I have a 2017 and received a recall notice from Toyota regard a possible leaking rear differential potential, causing shifting issues, noise or worse, total loss of power if not fixed. You might want to contact Toyota if you did not received this recall notice. Good luck

Eric Gates (not verified)    September 19, 2018 - 9:21AM

In reply to by Rich M (not verified)

I will preface this reply by saying I could be completely off base here, but it seems to me the "ECT (electronically controlled transmission) Power" button on the Tacoma is simply a way around the US CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) Standards, and it solves the transmission hunting problem which is a fair criticism.

I have gotten in the habit of engaging the ECT Power button each time I drive the truck, and I have no hunting complaints about the transmission's performance.

Source: Owner of 2018 Tacoma SR5.

Daniel (not verified)    April 17, 2019 - 8:16PM

In reply to by Bryan W (not verified)

Bryan, It sounds like you are very dedicated to the Tacoma. I was a very strong Tacoma supporter until I bought my 2017. Clearly Toyota engineers failed on the engine Torque and Transmission. This truck is suck a poor performer that I no longer will drive it. I am now renting it out for weekend to people who need a car. Praying and hoping it disappears. Worst vehicle I have ever owned. Sorry Bryan but Toyota has failed all of us, and I pissed about it.

Steven Olah (not verified)    May 9, 2019 - 10:12AM

In reply to by Daniel (not verified)

Poorly designed engine this truck is a disaster
Poor gas mileage and don’t even think about towing anything
I have a full size ram with 392 hp that gets better fuel economy and no towing issues

Ed Jakubiak (not verified)    March 14, 2017 - 6:12PM

I drove each of the mid-size trucks last year and I was the most disappointed in the Tacoma. The writer seems biased toward the Tacoma. It is easy to see how they say Tacoma is reliable last year. They only have previous Gen data. The new data is worse. They give total scores based on comparison to other trucks. If everyone has lots of green, the one with a yellow gets the worse score. All trucks are more reliable than any 10 years ago. The gears constantly hunt and it doesn't accelerate well. I loved the Ridgeline but hate the look. GM hits the sweet spot. If you read through the forums, there are several key issues that Toyota isn't fixing or took too long to fix including not having enough fluids in the engine.

That said, if they fix some of the issues during the next refresh I will get a Tacoma since I had one once and love the look.

Dave (not verified)    March 30, 2017 - 11:57AM

2016 Tacoma has had many problems ranging from transmissions issues to electrical issues.
it earned worse than average scores based on that alone.
The best truck for 2016 is the Frontier and Titan both had relatively problem free years.
especially the 2016 Frontier it came out of 2016 with very impressive reliability data

Dave (not verified)    March 30, 2017 - 12:05PM

transmission problem
vibrations problem
electrical problem
these were the main issues against the 2016 Tacoma
Frontier 0 problems case closed Frontier for 2016 is the more reliable.

John (not verified)    May 14, 2017 - 5:00AM

My '98 Tacoma Pre Runner V6 has 240k on it and probably has another 100k in her! dunno? maybe more? Now it's time to move into the 21st Century. My Brother has a new Honda Ridgeline, which is perfect for him and his family. But it's a Pilot with a cool bed in it. Very nice Dad-Truck, with a lot of great features and spacious interior, great Engine... However, for any Reliable off road ventures, I'd like to go with the TRD Tacoma. BUT Only if they can fix their current issues: Weak Engine Torque, same ole V6, kinda cramped interior, and those Rear-Diff TSB's...recalling virtually ALL of the 2016-and effected 2017's! Not a positive selling point for me, I can wait till the dust clears. Waiting for 2018 Tacoma Engine Specs. I'm also looking at the 4 Runner TRD, because they are built in Japan, sorry Texas Toyota but someone was texting instead of torquing. And eventually most Toyotas will be built south of The Wall, like everyone else. The cheaper costs for Toyota could effect their Quality and Reliability even more than now. I'll still have to pay 30-50k on a nice truck, but I bet it won't last 20 years like my '98. The '18 Colorado ZR2 looks promising, especially the 2.8L Turbo-Diesel! Full-size F-150 and Raptor, just too much truck for my needs and space. Not sure what to get now...

Walter Ferrell (not verified)    June 12, 2017 - 7:05AM

The 2016 and from what I understand the 2017 have a serious transmission/computer problem and this is very well documented. ( I had a 2005 for 11 years and was very happy with it. I traded it in for a 2016 tacoma and I am so unhappy now I will never buy another Toyota. Check out the web site and you will see exactly what I am talking about.

Linda summers (not verified)    October 28, 2017 - 12:07AM

In reply to by Walter Ferrell (not verified)

I have a 2017 SR5, 6 cyl. Auto, shifts all time- no power. 3 times now lost power- mechanicl hazzard lite on- foot down and had coast barely off road. Had dealership 3 times now- they find nothing wrong, no codes-- act like i am imagining it I guess- . have talked Texas few times asking them reach out to techs across USA- and tell me whats wrong so i can get fixed. Safety issue. Been looking on Tacoma forums 2 weeks- see low auto trans. Fluid from factory or loose fuse box is some problems- ask 3 times for them check- but not sure if latter got done. Have owned 7 tacomas- this one has issues and no help/ claim not heard of problem. Wow-- feel lucky I am only 1 in states with problem.
Looking on forums others are asking also( am not alone).

Paul (not verified)    July 21, 2019 - 11:43PM

In reply to by Linda summers (not verified)

Had the same problem with my 2017 TRD Sport. The engine would out of the blue go into "limp mode" (running on three cylinders). Happened four times over a period of 4 months. The 3rd and 4th time were one day apart. Left it at the dealership each time for them to figure out root cause but they were unable to obtain any useful codes. Finally, they replaced the ECM on warranty. The dealership did say after some digging that some other owners were having the same issue. The problem hasn't occurred since.

peter (not verified)    September 13, 2017 - 2:33AM

The new Tacoma is a cheap lightweight and junky feeling truck. The fenders feel like cardboard and the interior is unbelievably cheap feeling.. Knobs and switches are loose, wobbly and feel terrible to use. My GF's Corolla costs 1/2 as much and has much nicer feel to it. The doors of her car close with a nice thunk while the Tacoma rattles and generally feel like crap. 40K for this POS? Never. Toyota, get your head out of your ass

Barry (not verified)    October 5, 2017 - 1:53PM

In reply to by peter (not verified)

Exactly, my wife drives a 2015 Toyota 4 Runner, it is a fantastic vehicle it has never given us any trouble, the build quality is fantastic. So when Toyota came out with the new gen 3 Tacoma's. I thought it's a beautiful truck, and thinking of my wife's 4 Runner it has to be the same great quality. So I bought a 2017 TRD Off-road 4x4, and boy is this thing a P.O.S!! It only has 5,900 miles, and the dashboard rattles, it has the notorious rear differential wine, the interior is cheap feeling as you described, and the rear leaf springs squeak like it is 1970's truck with 300,000+ miles on it. It's embarrassing to drive across a rough parking lot with all of the noise it makes. The transmission is terrible, it down shifts from 6th to 4th on a perfectly level road for no reason. I love Toyota, but this new Tacoma is junk, I am trading it in this week for a 2017 4 Runner!!

Mynor Solares (not verified)    October 20, 2017 - 7:38PM

I had a 2004 Tacoma 4x4 Extended Cab and a 2012 Tacoma TRD - both of those trucks were descent with the 2012 being much better than the previous generation. Purchased a 2017 TRD Sport, V6, automatic trans, with high hopes and expectations and boy, was I disappointed. Within 6 months I sold it , because I couldn't stand the uncomfortable sets, weak engine, noise and just the overall feel of the truck was off. Needeless to say it's overpriced for what you get. This should be a $25k truck and not a $35-$40k truck.

Arthor Wright (not verified)    November 5, 2017 - 6:13AM

Consumer Reports (CR) has always been biased in its evaluations of vehicles, but not without reason. While being a useful resource, CR is run by humans, therefore, will have biased results. I give CR 4 out of 5 stars for data reliability. But that's just my opinion; I might be biased.

Wil2c (not verified)    November 8, 2017 - 4:41PM

Owning a 2016 off road, i can say that they are on target. This has to be hands down, the worst Toyota that i have ever owned. Engine pulled at 4k miles for oil leak, transmission even after two updates cant figure out what gear to be in. Strong vibration at around 2k rpm. In the sumer front windshiel fogs half way up blocking your view. Last 3 items dealer says are normal and thats how Toyota engineers designed it. So they designed it to constantly down and up shift and for the defrost vent to leak air out, nice

Matt (not verified)    November 13, 2017 - 5:55AM

I have a 2017 TRD sport which now has 5500 miles. My truck runs perfect. The truck is quiet inside and I’m not getting any suspension squeaks. If I am too light on the gas when accelerating the transmission does want to shift up quick. Seems to want to get into a cruising gear as quick as possible for fuel economy. If I tell the truck what to do with the gas pedal, the truck responds well and I don’t get that unnecessary upshift.
I can see why some people are concerned when such an expensive purchase doesn’t work how they expect. But only time will tell if that shifting issue really has any impact on long term reliability.

Ross Thoms (not verified)    November 16, 2017 - 10:52AM

I have a 2016 Tacoma trd offroad and I like it very much. I love the ride compared to my old 2003 Tacoma, the 3.5l engine is great, the auto 6 speed transmission is a let down. I'm hoping Toyota fixes this in fw soon. Gas mileage is pretty good for the weight and size of this truck. The only problem I had was my transfer case self destructed early on and the driver's seat fabric is showing wear way too early. The seat cover was replaced one by Toyota, but it's again showing wear.. I'll try for one more replacement before warranty runs out and install seat covers.

Steve Williams (not verified)    November 29, 2017 - 8:36PM

Add me to the list of disappointed 2016 Tacoma owners. 16 MPG combined mileage, and 11.5 MPG pulling a 2,200 LB utility trailer on flat ground. They Lied. It has a transmission that never knows what gear to be in, the RPM's rise to 4,700 on small grades, I think i'ts going to blow up. Two trips to the dealer for transmission problems, they say everyone is complaining about the trans and the dealers are awaiting a factory fix. So am I!!

Don Shultz (not verified)    December 10, 2017 - 1:19PM

New 2017 Limited bought 5/17, 5,100 miles on it. Transmission downshifts way too much & engine seems underpowered. Dealer checked & said no problems & that all late models shift a lot, also that many owners complained. I wish I had my 2002 Dakota or 2015 Terrain back & Toyota had this truck !!!!!!!!

Shane (not verified)    December 11, 2017 - 11:47PM

I have a 2017 Tacoma TRD Off-Road, double cab, short box. It has developed a pretty good clunk when slowing down down with the brakes applied. It is random and the clunk/jolt strikes daily. It sometimes can feel like you're being rear-ended. I started noticing the abnormal shift at 5,000 miles. I called the dealer and they said it was normal. I then wrote Toyota and Toyota told me to take it to the dealer. After taking it to the dealer today, they said the re-flashed the transmission. I does the same damn thing. My 1997 FJZ80 shifts better than this truck. The searching for gears didn't bother me too much, but the clunk from 2nd to 1st does. I own nothing but Toyota but if I knew "normal" was a clunky transmission from a 40k truck, I'd have kept my Tundra. The Tacoma also lacks any torque to hold 60 up mountain passes where I live. My buddies 03 Tacoma actually pulls away while mine takes a huge gulp, downshifts from 5th to 4th and screams into the 4500 RPM range. Truck kind of sucks, I hate to say it.