Everyone knows that buying a pickup truck comes with strings attached. Being a truck owner means you volunteer to help people move or assist with home improvements on a regular basis. There is no denying how handy it can be to have a versatile vehicle around that can haul, tow, transport or traverse rough terrain (or do all of those simultaneously).

The Toyota Tacoma pickup is so popular among KSL Cars visitors that it ranks as the second most searched keyword, with more than 1,600 searches from about 455 unique users per week. What is it about this light-duty pickup that makes it such a favorite in Utah and across the nation?

Tacoma Background

To understand where the Tacoma came from, it’s important to look at its predecessor, which was simply known as the Toyota pickup — or the Hilux, in some world markets. This compact truck has been around for 50 years in the United States, first debuting in 1972 as a simple two-door pickup with a reliable inline-four and two available transmissions. One of the most popular Toyota trucks of the early era was the 1985 SR5 Xtra Cab model. It was even featured in the “Back to the Future” movie series, complete with off-road gear and auxiliary lighting.

Taco Time - Why the Toyota Pickup Remains a Fan Favorite

The Tacoma launched in 1995 as an evolutionary step for the Hilux, which had aged into its fifth generation by 1989. When that body style phased out, the new generation of North American Toyota pickups took on the Tacoma name, while some international markets retained the Hilux nomenclature. 

The name Tacoma, by the way, was derived from a title given to Mount Rainier by the indigenous people of Washington state. Etymology aside, the Tacoma left an impression on both consumers and journalists from the beginning.

Taco Time - Why the Toyota Pickup Remains a Fan Favorite

Different, But the Same

Part of Tacoma’s life story embodies the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Each Tacoma generation, on average, has lasted about 10 model years before evolving into a new body style.

After its initial launch in 1995, the next update came in 2005. For this generation, the available configurations expanded to include a regular cab, an access cab and a double cab with two different engines and six transmissions. Toyota’s in-house tuning shop, Toyota Racing Development, got involved with special editions and added equipment like available electronic locking differentials, power inverters, performance upgrades and revised suspensions. This Tacoma generation was named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year when it debuted. 

Taco Time - Why the Toyota Pickup Remains a Fan Favorite

Refresh for Success

The current Tacoma — which was introduced in 2015 and rides on the N300 platform — received a refresh in 2020 but remains otherwise nearly the same. Chassis underpinnings are heavily shared with its sibling the 4Runner. The exterior design showcases a large grille, projector headlights and an embossed tailgate. For used Toyota Tacoma buyers, the truck’s design language longevity is a good thing — older models haven’t been forced into obsolescence.

Taco Time - Why the Toyota Pickup Remains a Fan Favorite

Another aspect of the Tacoma’s success comes in its sheer versatility. The model lineup spans everything from a simple two-wheel drive regular cab work truck to an off-road engineered, four-wheel drive TRD Pro crew cab model. 

Adding to the diversity is a list of six available trim levels. At the upper end of the spectrum, the Tacoma can be outfitted in creature comforts usually reserved for luxury cars, such as leather upholstery, dual climate control and a touch-screen infotainment system. 

Because of its reliability, Tacoma is ranked among the best resale value in its class. People who buy Tacomas don’t have to worry about taking a big depreciation hit. 

Tacoma Today

The Tacoma has strong momentum. For model year 2021, the Tacoma sold more than 250,000 units in the U.S. — the highest volume in the model’s 25-year history. Clearly this truck is on a roll. Check out KSL Cars review of the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro to learn about its many attributes.

Start Your Search

A 2022 Tacoma starts at $27,150 MSRP, but it can climb to about $47,000 for a top level model. If you’re in the market for a light truck, but don’t have the budget to buy new, maybe a used Toyota Tacoma will more closely align with your finances. Check out the classified listings on KSL Cars where there are nearly 900 Tacoma listings.

KSL Cars does not endorse any vehicles. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect the views or opinions of KSL.com or its employees.