When the current-generation Toyota Tacoma debuted in 2005, it won our much-heralded golden calipers in that year's Truck of the Year testing. Fast-forward seven years and not much has changed, other than the face-lifted front end and interior, and the improved audio system featuring Toyota's Entune multimedia interface.
As in years past, the Tacoma soldiers on with a 2.7-liter, 159-horsepower I-4 paired to a five-speed manual or four-speed auto, and a 4.0-liter, 236-horse V-6 teamed to a six-speed manual or five-speed auto. Cab configurations remain regular, access, and double, and drive options stay two- or four-wheel drive. The 4.0-liter proved quick when given full throttle (0-60 in 7.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.9 at 85.7 mph).
Our test example was a Double Cab 44 V-6 with the TRD Off-Road Package, which added Bilstein dampers, a locking rear differential, and BF Goodrich tires. During evaluation, the Tacoma was lauded for its manageable, easy-to-maneuver size as well as its excellent seating position and ergonomics. The well-laid-out and attractive interior was dinged though for cheap-feeling materials that lent a "Corolla built at a Camry price" sensation.
Does the refreshed Tacoma have enough going for it to make it the 2012 Truck of the Year? Find out on Monday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. eastern time.