When an automaker dominates a sales niche, like the best-selling Toyota Tacoma does with its mid-size pickup truck, there isn’t pressure to make major changes.

Toyota Tacoma has dominated the mid-size pickup truck market for more than a decade as the Ford F-150 does in the full-size pickup market.

With 30 different models and dozens of optional add-ons, Tacoma had its best sales year ever in 2018 and is basically standing pat this year, having sold more than 100,000 vehicles a year since its 1995 launched.

In its third generation, buyer customization remains a major appeal.

Tacomas are known for off-road ruggedness, reliability, towing muscle up to 6,800 pounds on some models and good resale value. Competitors include the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Ford is introducing a mid-size Ford Ranger pickup this year.

Changes for 2019 involve features and options for the TRD Pro trim, including an air intake vent for fording streams, upgraded audio and power sunroof in some trims and standard privacy glass and new options in the base SR trim.

We test-drove the TRD Off-Road double cab with all-wheel drive and 6-foot long bed. It included the Premium off-road package for $2,890, a safety-oriented technology package for $770 complementing Toyota’s Safety Sense and a $650 lockable and folding Tonneau covering the composite bed equipped with tie-down cleats and power outlet.

Trims are SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro and Limited – all capable of customer modifications.

Responsive handling on and off-road, plus top off-road control features such as suspension tuning, Bilstein shock absorbers, hill descent assist, 9.4-inch ground clearance, and multi-terrain/select crawl control made off-roading fun.

At highway speeds, some wind/road noise occurs. The 3.5-liter engine generates moderate pick-up for steady merges and remains stable in tight turns.

Inside, knobs and buttons are easy to use; the 7-inch dashboard touchscreen has the latest technical links with voice recognition and Toyota’s highly touted Entune information access system. A multi-information display sits between the main gauges.

Fit and finish is excellent with top grade materials and numerous storage areas exist, with ample cupholders front and back, plus concealed bins under the rear seats, including tools for changing the spare tire.

Access can be challenging (step-in is high), front seats are manually adjusted and due to the sunroof may challenge six-footers plus.

LIKES: Looks, tech features, off-road prowess, handling, versatility, reliability.

DISLIKES: Access, manual seat adjustment, noise.

BOTTOM LINE: It remains the best-selling, mid-size pick-up while competitors try to catch up.



Base price w/destination fee: $38,120 ($42,430 as tested)

Curb weight: 4,480 lbs.

Wheelbase: 140.6 inches (long bed)

Length: 225.5 inches

Width: 75.2 inches

Engine specs: 3.5-liter V-6, direct injection

Horsepower: 278-hp at 6,000 rpm

Torque: 265 ft.-lbs. at 4,000 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, VVT

EPA rating: 18 mpg city and 22 mpg highway

Range: 21.1-gallons, regular fuel

Performance: 0-60 in just over 7 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.