The Fast Lane Compares Old Toyota Tacoma Against New Toyota Tacoma

Better known for boring but reliable cars such as the Corolla and Camry, Toyota also happens to reign supreme in the mid-size truck segment. The Tacoma, however, wasn't a commercial success right off the bat.
Old vs. New: How Much Better Has Toyota Made The Tacoma Over The Past 20 Years? 11 photos
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For reference, the Ford Ranger sold 309,085 examples in 1995 compared to 88,967 units for the Japanese contender. These days, however, the ‘Taco outsells the Blue Oval’s workhorse, the Colorado, and Canyon combined.

“An extremely popular truck here in Colorado,” according to Tommy Mica from The Fast Lane, the first generation of the Tacoma is a far cry from the 2021 model in terms of creature comforts, ride quality, and price point. Even the cargo area is different because the older truck features steel, while the Tacoma of today has composites and a dampened tailgate.

“Quite a bit porkier,” is how Tommy describes the footprint and heft of the 2021 model, which offers 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet (244 Nm) of torque from a four-cylinder engine as standard. Opt for the TRD Pro like the truck in the following video, and Toyota is much obliged to throw in two more cylinders, direct injection, and the Atkinson combustion cycle.

Hopping inside the 2002 model, you can’t help but feel like you’ve traveled back in time. The simple interior with hard-wearing plastic everywhere “looks and feels and works pretty much brand new,” even though the odometer shows 182,000 miles (292,900 kilometers). The air conditioning system still blows ice cold after all these years, and to engage 4H or 4L in the older Tacoma, you use a transfer case lever instead of a control dial.

As for the worst problem of the first-generation ‘Taco, “they do rust quite violently.” The year was 2008 when Toyota extended the rust-perforation warranty to 15 years from the original date of purchase, regardless of mileage. This problem extends to the second generation of the mid-size pickup truck, but nevertheless, the outgoing model has no rust issues.

If you had to choose between these two, which would you take home?


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