The compact truck segment has undergone a lot of changes in the past 5 years. Ford stepped out of the segment completely in 2012 (though the Nissan Frontier, long a rebadged Ranger, continues as does the Ranger in other markets). GM stopped production of the Colorado/Canyon platform after an 8 year run in 2012 (still produced for Brazil) though its predecessor the S-10 pick-up had a healthy run from 1982-2005. Also Dodge stepped away from the mid sized truck segment in 2011 after a 24 year production run of the Dakota. What we have now is a far reduced model market to what it was just a few years ago in North America.
The Tacoma badge has bucked this trend in some shape or form and has not stopped production since the 60s though for many years it had no name. It started as the Stout in the 60s, then the Hi-lux in the 70s then in the 80s they could not come up with anything witty it seems so it had no name, and finally in 1995 the badge Tacoma was introduced. What we have in the Toyota Tacoma and the new Canyon/Colorado are much refined versions of those historical trucks, no more are they cheep or budget minded "haul stuff" in small places machines but have forged a market segment for themselves and are as refined and capable as many of their larger 1/2ton cousins (though that size gap of the trucks shrinks all the time) and very good every day vehicles with all the creature comforts of well appointed sedans.
By the numbers:
As reference Crew Cab Dodge Ram 1500 5.5 box, full size bracket. Length 229in, width 79.4in, height 77.4in. Tacoma: Crew Cab Length 225.5in, width 74.3in, height 70.7in.
Like the Canyon this is no small truck. It feels big on the road (it is) yet surprisingly cramped inside. With no height adjustment to the seat you're looking through the top two inches of the window and my hair was brushing the roof (I'm not overly tall). This truck NEEDS a lower sitting position and a power adjustable seat. Fit and finish are typical Toyota, which is excellent. The new 3.5 Litre, 6-Cylinder, DOHC, Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) replaces the 4.0L found for years in the Toyota truck platform a 2.7L 4 cyl is also available. The engine is a smooth runner though the VVT system comes on a little harsh when pushed. While the truck has a nice refined ride the interior noise is greater than the Canyon and the spring rate a little stiffer. Past the seat height issue, the interior is well laid out and the seats comfortable. Fuel consumption was comparable to the Canyon with similar HP and torque numbers. Price was also very close at $46,000.00 though the Canyon was better equipped for the price. This is undeniably a Toyota product and will keep the Toyota faithful happy for years to come.(click images below for larger pictures)