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Toyota’s Tacoma can meet all needs

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Toyota’s best-selling Tacoma pickup offers something for nearly everyone.

With a vast number of model permutations, there’s bound to be one that fits a buyer’s quite specific needs, whether it be long or short bed; two- or four-wheel drive; basic, sporty or luxurious; seating for two, four or five; economical four-cylinder or powerful V-6; manual or automatic transmissions – the variations are virtually limitless.

But what keeps the Tacoma on top of the compact truck heap is its reputation for bulletproof reliability and impeccable assembly quality.

2011 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 4×4
VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door, four-passenger, midsize pickup truck
BASE PRICE: $25,925
PRICE AS TESTED: $33,168 (incl. delivery fees)
POWERTRAIN: 4.0-liter, DOHC V-6; 236 horsepower; 266 lb.-ft. torque; five-speed automatic transmission; four-wheel drive
WHEELBASE/LENGTH: 127.4″/208.1″
CURB WEIGHT: 4.045 pounds
EPA FUEL RATING: 16 mpg city/20 highway (regular grade)

Our tester, a V-6 Access Cab 4×4, came loaded with off-road options, a tow package and an upgraded audio system that ran up the bottom line to a breath-catching $33,168. Not an insignificant amount, but that gets you an adventure-ready sports truck that’s ready to tackle some pretty rugged terrain, with comfort and style to boot.

In the Access Cab, small, rear-hinged “suicide”-style doors open for entry to a rear seat barely suitable for two full-size adults. If you want better accommodations for your passengers, you’ll need to move up to the Crew Cab model.

Included in the TRD Off-Road package, along with a plethora of suspension and drivetrain upgrades and appearance and convenience features, are a pair of form-fitting sport buckets up front to hold you in place while traversing parking-lot speed bumps or banging through the boonies. Too bad the seats are positioned so low to the floor, a long-standing complaint with Toyota trucks.

Cabin materials are generally hard plastics of various textures and tones, but impeccably assembled. Controls are utterly straight-foward.

On the road, the V-6 delivers generous power, but also generates a fair amount of commotion. Road noise, too, is a constant traveling companion.

The truck displays an agreeable, light-footed feel under way, making it a pleasant everyday driver. Handling is best in class, but the highway ride is a bit busy, due mostly to the off-road shocks and tires.

Overall, the Tacoma merits its long-running success.

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