The new Tacoma body styles are four inches wider, making for much-improved interior elbowroom. Wheelbases are longer as well, ranging from 109.4 inches for the regular cab (yes, Toyota will continue to offer a regular cab model, with only a single bed length), to 127.2 inches for the Access Cab and shortbed Double Cab models, to 140.6 inches for the newly crafted longbed Double Cab. That makes for three wheelbases, three cab configurations, and two bed lengths. Add to that the PreRunner models (4x4 stance with a 4x2 powertrain) in regular, Access, or Double Cab configurations, and it's clear that Toyota wants to offer its buyers a truck for every need. Interior trim is substantially upgraded. Access Cab models still have fold-down rear seats suitable for kids or desperate-to-ride adults, but the Double Cab has enough rear-seat room for just about anyone.
On the road, even the four-wheel-drive models ride far better than before. The V-6 is smooth and quiet and has a surprising amount of punch, with an appropriately wide powerband, regardless of transmission choice. Unfortunately, on our test drive, there were no four-cylinder models available for us to drive and after trying the six-speed transmission, we're hoping Toyota reconsiders its decision not to make it available with the four-cylinder.
Last (and maybe most important), Toyota is adding the performance-minded X-Runner to the Tacoma mix as a distinct model, looking much like it did when it made its debut as a concept at the Chicago auto show last February. It will have the V-6, six-speed manual, 18-inch wheels and Bridgestone Potenza RE050 radials, a lowered, stiffer suspension with Bilstein shocks, and lots of body cladding. The company says its performance benchmark was the Nissan 350Z (we're not making that up). We didn't get a chance to run test numbers on the X-Runner Access Cab, but we're confident it'll generate the claimed 0.9 g of grip on the skidpad. Oddly enough, it isn't that much fun to drive. The longish throw in the six-speed is fine for a regular truck, but feels out of place in something pushing for autocross performance. We liked the stiff, lowered suspension and exceptionally grippy tires, but the body cladding (assuming it doesn't get wiped out on the first curb you jump) is too flashy.
We'll have to rethink the X-Runner. As for the rest of the Tacoma lineup: Full speed ahead.