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Toyota should keep the 2015 Tacoma simple

Contrary to our recent stories, many owners and fans of the Toyota Tacoma feel the vehicle should not try to match the new Chevy Colorado. In fact, they like the truck just the way it is.

Toyota should create a “Tacoma Classic” version of its popular compact pickup truck and focus on making the vehicle simple, reliable, and durable. That is a recurring message Torque News commenters and forum readers have conveyed to us after reading our recent series on the Tacoma’s future in light of the coming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

Tacoma Sales Leadership Threatened
The Toyota Tacoma has enjoyed a number of years now as the leader in the compact truck market. The Tacoma is also the number one vehicle of any type in terms of resale value. Ford quit on the Ranger, and is not likely to bring it back anytime soon. Dodge gave up on the Dakota, and until recently, GM was not really selling Colorados and Canyons. That is about to change, and it seemed natural to us that Toyota should respond by changing the Tacoma to meet or exceed the Canyon’s new abilities. Some agreed with this idea, but many did not. There are many Tacoma owners that love the truck just as it is and are not interested in seeing many of the modern touches we thought might help the vehicle retain some of its declining sales.

Not All Tacoma Fans Want More Power
The comments from Toyota Tacoma fans and owners about keeping the truck simple have a general theme. First, with regard to engines, this group does not think the new 2.0 turbo we expect Toyota to use is necessary as a base engine. Commenter “Somebody” wrote “Toyota needs only sit back and do nothing to remain ahead in every conceivable way. As far as needing engine changes... nonsense. 2.7 for everybody with a brain.” Picking up where this commenter left off, Brett wrote “Totally agree, as far as small trucks go... The things that I am looking for are simplicity, reliability, economy. Yeah you can put turbos on small engines but how long will it last, and what's the cost to replace. I'll buy something that I'm pretty sure will not need some kind of dumb maintenance issues before 200k. All my ‘Yotas are 4-bangers. Change the oil and keep going.”

Keep the Tacoma Simple
The idea that Toyota should focus on simplicity, durability, and reliability extends beyond the engine category. Adam writes “I own a 1998 Tacoma, and since the regrettable 'upgrade' to the current generation, have seen nothing that interests me. If Toyota really wants to create a Colorado fighter, what they need to do is return to their roots in the segment...affordability, durability, and fuel economy are more important to compact/midsize truck buyers than go-fast cosmetics and 'wishbook' accessories.” Although we agree with Adam, the Tacoma does need to improve its fuel economy. It is hard to imagine that happening without some new technology. Perhaps transmission changes (more gears would be preferable to a CVT!) and some other tricks like the ValveMatic system could offer that without making the vehicle less reliable.

Other Brands Have Tried This
Nissan's brands have experimented with keeping the older model on the sales floor while introducing its replacement. For example, Infiniti tried that with the outgoing G37 and incoming Q50. Perhaps this is an idea that Toyota should explore with the Tacoma. Create a new model, but continue to offer the current generation in its base format indefinitely. That might be the best of both worlds for Toyota Tacoma fans.

Related Stories:
Toyota Tacoma's two-step plan to match Chevy's 2015 Colorado
Ford's 2015 F-150 and Chevy's Colorado hit Toyota Tundra and Tacoma with one-two punch


John Morgan (not verified)    July 5, 2014 - 5:23PM

Bring back Toyota's original compact truck and world favorite, the Hilux (Just known as a Toyota Pickup when it was here before the Tacoma). That would be the classic and improve the Tacoma. Best of both worlds.

Tone (not verified)    July 6, 2014 - 8:49PM

The reason the Tacoma did so well was because it was the best truck in an outdated segment. Vehicle manufacturers have all given up on the mid or compact truck segment. That is why there has been little to no change in the current or recently dead productions. The Ford Ranger was a a great seller once upon a time. 15 years of "refreshing" the same model led to it's decrease in sales. The Taco is headed for the same fate. I would have thought Toyota was smarter than that, but I'm wrong. Keeping the same engines, the same exterior and interior has led to a decrease in sales over the years. The Taco would sell much worse if it weren't such a good fleet seller. A new and improved truck in the same segment will eat considerably into it's non fleet sales. The Colorado has made a bunch of noise and should take away a lot of sales from the outdated Taco. There is no reason not to do a remodel, when some models have already been remade TWICE during the this taco's lifetime. There is no reason not to improve on an imperfect vehicle. With the advanced engine technology, why not make a better engine???? Why not make an interior that is newer, improved and makes better use of it's dimensions???

Mr knowitall (not verified)    July 23, 2014 - 11:59AM

This is the direction Nissan is headed- they are reportedly bringing an updated version of the D22 (which was the Frontier in the early part of the last decade), along with a version of the next Navara. Toyota could actually be better at this very game with the 1st gen Tacoma, as it was nice and light. Pop in updated power, and bingo-bango!

jhk49 (not verified)    July 28, 2014 - 4:39PM

Admittedly, I like the newer technology and the creature comforts. But when comes to design of the compact truck .... I want just that ..... I don't want mid-sized. A classic version would be great with the newer tech. Then, if Toyota wanted something to grab the "younger generation", go ahead and give them the pre runner or TRD or whatever else. Just keep on providing a reliable 4 banger, utilitarian truck for the ones who brought them to the dance.

Bill Potter (not verified)    March 18, 2015 - 9:47PM

I drive a second Generation Tacoma as a work truck and it is BORING just like every other second Gen trucks. I plan to keep my 2004 Tacoma as long as is possible as a personal vehicle. The trend AWAY from compact to "midsize" trucks is unfortunate and has made for a generation of monstrosities and 4 door sedans parading as pickup trucks. Two thumbs down!