- - Sunday, October 26, 2014

Drivers and consumers overall just seem to like Toyota. Therefore, what Toyota fan can resist the 2014 Toyota Tacoma with its three cab styles, two bed lengths and, new for 2014, a new model called the SR appearance package as well as touch screen infotainment that is all new and improved?

A midsize pickup truck that fans in this truck-size market have come to love competition includes only the upcoming 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and the existing Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier.

The 2014 Toyota Tacoma comes in three cab configurations: Regular Cab, Access Cab with an extended cab that has a rear-hinged door and the Double Cab that is a crew cab. The regular and access cabs have 6 X 1-inch beds and the Double Cab has either a five-foot shorter bed or the regular size bed option too.

Standard on the 2WD, rear-drive Regular Cab you get 15-inch steel wheels, limited-slip rear differential, AC, a bed utility rail system, cloth bench seating, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and the techno goodies that include a Bluetooth phone and audio connect, 6.1-inch touch screen and a CD sound system that also includes iPod/USB connectivity and an auxiliary audio jack. On this as well is a sliding rear window option.

On the 2WD Access Cab, there is upgraded cloth seats with full carpeting, power locks and windows, front bucket seats, center and overhead console, fold-up rear seats and storage underneath as well as dual rear cup holders. The 2WD Double Cab will add to that mix black fenders, power mirrors, adjustable driver lumbar and a 60/40-split rear bench seat with adjustable headrests. There is also rear storage and climate vents in the back seat.

On the four-wheel drive version of any of the 2014 Toyota Tacomas, you get a higher ride, 16-inch steel wheels, black fenders and an engine skid plate and front mud guards.

For the PreRunner choice, whether the Access and Double Cab configuration, you add a rear-wheel-drive with the 4WD Tacoma features.

On the Access or Double Cab trims,  you can also add several packages like the Convenience package with power mirrors on the Access Cab and keyless entry, cruise control, tinted sliding rear window and steering-wheel controls for the audio. The SR5 package will give you a fancier look with chrome grille and rear bumper trim, color-keyed front bumper and fenders, fog lights and an adjustable driver lumbar support, which also comes standard on the Double Cab. There is also a different seat fabric, intermittent wipers and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cool shift knob with dual sun visors with mirrors and extenders and not only a rearview camera, but also an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

More choices include the SR package for the PreRunner, 4WD Access Cab and 4WD Double Cab with extended color-keyed exterior trim, unique wheels and mirror-mounted turn signals with smoked headlights. On the TRD TX Baja package, there is a tougher look coupled with all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks and a higher front ride height.

There is also the V6-powered PreRunners and 4WD Tacoma choices with TRD Off-Road packages and that includes the SR5 package with better suspension and shocks and a variety of off-road additions. And on the Limited package on the V6 Double Cab, you get the SR5 package and 18-inch chrome wheels and exterior trim with an auto-dimming rearview mirror, outside temperature gauge and heated front seats in synthetic leather upholstery.

Take note too that the V6 Double Cab can come with a higher end JBL audio sound system and you can opt for an upgraded touch screen stand alone on the Access and Double Cabs with or without navigation.

Under the hood, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma comes in rear- or four-wheel drive and engine choices include the 2.7-liter four-cylinder or 4.0-liter V6. On all the Tacomas except the 4WD Double Cab, it is a four-cylinder engine with 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The five-speed manual is the standard on the Regular. And Access Cab and on the PreRunner Access, it is rear-wheel drive only or the Double Cabs has a four-speed automatic that can also be had on the other trims.

Under the hood of the V6, expect 236 horsepower with 266 pound feet of torque. But this is not available on the Regular Cab models, however. It is the norm on the 4WD Double Cab or can be an option on the 4WD Access Cab as well as the PreRunner configuration options either the Access or Double Cab. As well, the PreRunner V6 only has a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 4WD Access Cab and Double Cab have the six-speed manual with a five-speed automatic option.

For safety, the Toyota Tacoma comes equipped with antilock brakes that are front disc, rear drum as well as brake assist, stability control, front-seat side-impact and full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints.

As for appeal, on the outside the 2014 Toyota Tacoma looks good and strong and inside it is a comfortable and easy ride with knobs and buttons that are intuitive and a practical dashboard layout made of hard plastic and durable. The bucket seats in the front are comfortable with plenty of support for long drives and in the back take note that the Double Cab has a large backseat that even tall adults can enjoy. The rear seats also flip up or fold down for any extra space that might be needed for hauling.

In the back, there is the standard composite bedliner and the optional bed-mounted 115-volt power outlet that really comes in handy for many reasons.

As for driving, it took me awhile to get used to the very sensitive brakes, but the actual driving of the 2014 Toyota Tacoma was easy as this truck knows how to do its job right. It’s a firm ride with good suspension and off-road you can also expect results as needed.

Should You Need to Know: The X-Runner model is no longer available in 2014 on the Toyota Tacoma.

Miles Per Gallon: The 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4X4 V6 I drove had 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4X4 V6 price tag was at $36,873.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita at @RitaCook13.

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