A truck is a truck is a truck until it’s a “beautiful baby.”
The ability of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4X4 Double Cab Long Bed to aggressively handle multi-terrains and crawl its way out of tricky situations would certainly lend itself to a wild adventure, but I spent most of this test drive in the city folding and unfolding the tri-fold cover for the 6.1-foot bed of this mid-size pickup. I was obsessed.
I went on a donation binge, loading up as many items as I could from my home to give away. I wanted to test out the capacity and endurance of the composite bed surface, the heavy-duty deck rail system and the available lockable tri-fold cover, made specifically for the Tacoma. It was easy to do with the tailgate, which was lockable, removable and slow to retract. It opened quick enough, but it did not slam down.
Adjustable tie-down cleats were available to keep cargo down, but I stuck with simple items like boxes and bags so I didn’t really need them. Also in the back is a 120 volt power outlet.
In between trips to the back of the truck, I managed to get in some drive time, too. The 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with the six-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift was not the quickest when escalating. But once I reached my targeted speed level on the highway, the 278-horsepower kicked in.
Although this drive took place right smack in the middle of the winter, the sun was in full affect – shining brilliantly on the body of the Quicksand-colored exterior, the commanding headlights and the 16-inch machine contrast alloys with P265/70R16 tires. This leading mid-size truck, available in six model grades, begged to show out on a slushy or snowy day in the mountains. Even a little rain would have stirred up a conquering spirit, but a mud bath wasn’t in the cards this time around.
With most pickup trucks I need to grab the handle inside to lift myself up and into the driver’s seat. I’m about 5’6 and all I had to do was open the door and sit down. Taller people may bump their head from time to time. Once in, I appreciated the colorful front dash with large buttons, including dual zone climate controls and a seven-inch high res touch screen.
In addition to the new power rear window, the five-seater features a 60/40 split rear seat that comes with adjustable headrests and under-seat storage. In theory I could have placed some smaller items there, but with the cover providing such a classic line of organization and privacy, I wanted to place everything, including my briefcase, in the back.
The 2017 carries over a lot from the all-new 2016 model, including top safety features and a mount for the popular GoPro video camera near the rear view mirror. If I had one in place it would have captured me smiling as I made a donation delivery to a gentleman who called the truck a “beautiful baby.”
2017 Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 Double Cab Long Bed MSRP: $35,315; Combined City/Highway MPG: 20. Visit Toyota.