Toyota Tacoma: A Rugged Winner

The redesigned pickup delivers good looks, a powerful V-6, solid handling -- and more bad news for Detroit

Toyota's new Tacoma midsize pickup truck, totally redesigned and updated in 2005, is really mopping the floors with its competition. In the first two months of this year, Tacoma sales were up 28.4%, to 26,145 units, quite a contrast to the huge drops suffered by rival models. During the same period sales were down 20.7%, to 12,569, for the Ford (F) Ranger; 24%, to 10,843, for DaimlerChrysler's (DCX) Dodge Dakota; 41%, to 10,845, for General Motors' (GM) Chevy Colorado; and 46.2%, to 25,564, for the GMC Canyon, the Colorado's sister model.

My complaints about the Tacoma are minor. Some of the interior styling -- like the bright chromed perforated plastic material on the center stack -- is a bit garish. And Toyota really needs to improve the design of the three headrests on the rear seat of the club-cab version of the truck. You have to take them off to fold down the rear seat, which is a pain. And they badly obscure the view out the rear window, which is dangerous. Other than that, this truck is a real coup. If the new Tundra turns out to be anything like the Tacoma, watch out Detroit!

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