What do you get when you take the down-and-dirty Tacoma and gussy it up? First impressions might make you think the 2018 Toyota Tacoma Limited I tested for a week looks like an F-150 Limited or a Ram Laramie Limited. The exterior is clad in chrome finishes, it has flashy wheels on the corners and there is a leather-lined interior. Additionally, there is a relatively long list of features including blind-spot monitoring, push-button start, and a 7.0-inch infotainment system with navigation.
Beyond the snazzed up trim, though, the Tacoma Limited is very much a workhorse at heart. You will still find hard plastics with just a handful of stitched panels on the dashboard, but even those aren’t particularly upscale-looking. The seats look great and are upholstered in brown leather, but they’re stiff, not cushy, it’s leather that you won’t mind getting muddy.
Behind the Wheel
Behind the wheel, you will find two large gauges, on the left is the tachometer, on the right the speedometer, and in the middle, there is a 4” color configurable driver information system that gives you info like miles per gallon, audio info, tire pressure, and it will tell you which of the terrain settings you are in.
Above the shifter, in the middle of the dash, you will find a 7” color touchscreen that allows you to operate the real-time apps, a navigation system, blue tooth, rear camera, and all the audio controls. This package comes standard with a 6-speaker JBL sound system, that is fantastic, something Tacoma has never had before.
The Limited has a ton of standard features including power moonroof, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry, pushbutton start, 18” wheels, you even get a mount if you want to drive with a Go Pro camera.
The cabin is perfectly comfortable, but the focus is clearly more on functionality. There are a number of places to stash small items throughout and my tester even came with Qi inductive charging. The center-stack is fantastic and purposefully designed, everything is within reach with easy-to-use knobs for the climate controls and infotainment system. It’s all fairly simplistic with an overall chunky and industrial look.
Where the Tacoma Limited really shines is in delivering a comfortable ride.
Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6 comes across as rather gruff in a luxury trim truck. Despite Toyota’s D4S technology, which can switch between direct and port injection, the V-6 still moves and sounds rough. Performance is disappointing as well. The Tacoma’s six-speed automatic transmission makes weird shifts. It upshifts too early and takes far too much prodding to kick back down. Paired with this version of the V-6 it makes the Tacoma feel sluggish and slow on the draw. The Taco will do a fairly quick 7.9-second zero-to-60-mph run, it just doesn’t feel like it. The six-speed manual, not available in the Limited, really allows the driver to fully utilize the engine.
The V-6 doesn’t make its peak 265 lb-ft of torque until 4600 rpm. Most of the competition delivers peak torque around 4000 rpm, the Nissan Frontier, for example, delivers 281 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. You can feel the gap. If you plan to tow, you will really notice it. Move up the truck chain and a Ford F-150 will put out 375 lb-ft at only 3000 rpm. I’d guess we’ll be seeing some turbos in the mid-size pickup range sooner rather than later. The Tacoma would really benefit from a flatter torque curve.
Where the Tacoma Limited really shines is in delivering a comfortable ride. The Michelin LTX ties on the Limited are smooth and quiet, much quieter than the knobbier offerings on the TRD Off-Road model and lower end models.
Get the Cheap One
While I don’t take issue with much of anything with the Tacoma in its low-trim or off-road trims, the unrefined engine and basic interior just don’t work in a Limited trim truck. This Tacoma Limited is a $41,000 truck. That’s top of the line for a mid-size truck, but the Tacoma Limited just doesn’t feel top of the line. Making it a hard sell compared to an F-150 or Silverado.
All of that said, the Tacoma remains my favorite mid-size truck. I’d just avoid the Limited and grab a Tacoma SR5 Crew Cab V-6 4×4 instead. You still get most of the goodies (backup camera, navigation, towing package) for about $35,000. The Tacoma is a fun, rough and tumble truck. The trim levels that embrace that really work.