- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

This week, I drove the 2005 Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab and enjoyed it immensely. However, explaining my thoughts and observations includes more than just the vehicle itself.

This Tacoma, with four doors, accommodates five passengers in comfort. Even the rear-seat passengers have plenty of head and legroom and because of the four-door configuration. It also much easier for them to get in and out of this pickup; it has similarity to the easy entry and exit of a four-door sedan.

Another feature that made it easier — compared to other pickups — is that I didn’t have to “climb” up into the cab. Although it required a slight step to get up on the running board, the overall body seemed to sit a bit closer to the ground. Incidentally, the running board was one of many options.

I did not go off-roading, as the test truck was a two-wheel drive. I drove the Tacoma as if it were a sedan. Fact is, the ride comfort was very similar to a sedan.

The spacious cab with comfortable cloth-covered seats had lumbar support on the driver’s side and the passenger’s seat would fold flat. All the seats had adjustable headrests. The rear 60/40-split bench seat also had under-seat and bulkhead storage. Another surprise was to find it had a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

The truck also included a $4,000 TDR Sport Package that added numerous amenities such as 17-inch alloy wheels that gave the Tacoma an attractive rugged appearance.

Other features of the option package were limited-slip differential, fog lamps, Class IV hitch, heavy-duty battery, transmission and supplemental oil cooler. Also included were remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable wiper, compass and temperature gauge. It even had privacy glass for the passengers in the back.

Because the ride was reasonably quiet, it provided a nice atmosphere for the AM/FM sound system with a six-disc changer and six speakers. This made for enjoyable listening to some of my favorite CDs. The radio was a $200 option and well worth it. This Tacoma has a base price of $22,175 and with the option plus delivery the bottom line MSRP is $27,428.

The V-6 4.0-liter engine produces 245 horsepower and the EPA mileage rating is 18 city, 22 highway. The test vehicle had a five-speed automatic transmission that responded quite quickly to the gas pedal.

As for safety, the Tacoma includes four-wheel with ABS with electronic brake force. It has dual-stage air bags for both front-seat passengers, plus three-point seat belts with pretensions and force limiters. It also features top tether anchors and side-door impact beams.

The truck’s bed has panels, rail caps and removable tailgate. It also uses the deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats, features not often found in other pickups.

You put all these features together, and it is understandable why Motor Trend magazine chose the Tacoma as its Truck of the Year. Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend said, “The new Tacoma is a good example of Toyota listening to its customers and delivering the best material, fit and finish for its price class.”

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