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COOL RUNNINGS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Oct 1, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

CROSS-COUNTRY RUNNER By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The Toyota Tacoma pickup truck is no longer a compact sized pickup. This Tacoma is almost five inches longer than the previous generation Tacoma, and has a four-inch wider track - making the new Tacoma more mid-size, like the Chevy Colorado and Dodge Dakota. This year marks the first year that Tacoma has taken the number one crown in total sales away from perennial sales leader Ford Ranger. According to Trucking Times, Tacoma leads with 49,241 sales, the Colorado comes in second with 45,248, the Ranger is third with 38,405 and the Dodge Dakota is fourth with 35,665 for the first five months of 2005. The all-new 2005 Tacoma also features two new engines - a 2.7-liter VVT-i DOHC in-line four-cylinder that makes 164 hp and 183 lb.ft. of torque, and a 4.-0liter VVT-i DOHC V6 making 245 hp and 282 lb.ft. of torque. The truck now also features a new six-speed manual or five-speed automatic in V6 models, a stiffer and stronger chassis for improved maneuverability, a new suspension setup, and steering tuning that improves off-road performance, on-road ride and handling. You can order your new Toyota Tacoma in 18 model configurations, based on three-cab styles; Regular, access, and double-cab - and two-bed lengths: 60.3 inches and 73.5 inches.

All new Tacomas come standard with a black composite bed that is lighter, tougher, and more durable than stainless steel. The bed features two-tier loading capability, four tie-downs, a moveable rail system to better secure your cargo, and a 115-volt plug that can come in real handy on the job or when having outdoor fun. There is one combination right for anyone shopping for a great looking, mid-sized pickup truck to buy, coming standard with 4x2 rear-wheel-drive, or optional 4x4. New styling highlights include bigger, bolder headlamp clusters behind clear lenses, larger and more styled front grille and lower bumper with air-intake and optional round foglamps

Running With The Hot Ones For this newest generation Tacoma, Toyota lets its conservative guard down with the all-new Tacoma XRunner high-performance model. Powered by the Tacoma's new 245 hp V6 engine, the XRunner blends concept truck design with sports car performance. The unique look is highlighted with monochrome paint, big and bold headlamp clusters behind clear lenses, blacked-out grille and lower bumper air-intake, a hood scoop, and boldly designed lower aero bodykit with a side-exit-mounted, four-inch oval, stainless steel exhaust tip. To help cut down unwanted wind noise, front and rear glass is mounted flush. Adding to the quiet are sideview mirrors that are aerodynamically styled. The body is lowered one inch, giving the Tacoma XRunner a more aggressive stance. The XRunner is available only in access cab and 4x2 configuration. Power is turned up to 245 hp at 5,200 rpm with torque registering a hefty 282 lb. ft. at just 3,800 rpm. The new six-speed transmission pulls strongly and is very smooth. To increase traction with the extra torque, a limited-slip differential comes standard. The loud growl you hear comes from the less restrictive, side-exit-mounted, stainless steel exhaust.

The six-speed manual shifter is a perfect match for the more powerful engine with quick sure shifts up and down. The stick is located right where it should be on the center console for easy reach. To handle the extra power and performance characteristics of the XRunner, Toyota stiffened the unitized steel frame by adding several "X" braces and other reinforcement pieces. The XRunner's independent double wishbone front suspension gets firmer and shorter coil springs, specially tuned Bilstein gas-charged shocks, and a 1.18-inch stabilizer bar. The rear suspension features a solid axle design with specially tuned Bilstein gas-charged shocks positioned outside of the frame for better stability, stiffer leaf springs, and a .98-inch stabilizer bar. Toyota says the XRunner will get to 60 mph from a standstill in just 6.8 seconds. Toyota further asserts that the XRunner will pull just over 0.90 Gs in lateral acceleration. I'm a believer, because the XRunner is very fast at launch and cruises on the freeways with the best of them. On sharp turns, the XRunner remains flat and in control. The ride is stiffer than the regular Tacoma, but never harsh. A new, tuned power-assisted rack & pinion steering system gives the XRunner excellent response to my inputs. It has very good on-center feel and good feedback from the road. It's almost like driving a high-priced mid-size sport sedan with a cargo box in the rear.

Brakes are good with front 12.5-inch vented discs clamped and dual-piston calipers. Rear brakes are 10-inch drums. This set-up comes standard with power-assist, ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. While very good, I'd still like to see four-wheel discs for the extra non-fading power of steel discs. The all-new XRunner rides on big, 18x7-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with 255/45R18 Bridgestone Potenza high-performance radial tires for excellent traction and a smooth ride. Inside the newly styled cabin, you'll find more legroom, shoulder room and hip room. The new bucket seats are very comfortable and very supportive - especially during spirited driving. The four-spoke, tilting/telescoping, leather wrapped steering wheel feels great in my hands, and features buttons to control the audio system. The new instrument cluster is straight-ahead and easy to see. It features three large aluminum ringed gauges, a 120 mph speedometer, a 7,000 rpm tachometer and a split gauge for fuel and engine coolant temperature. Bright LED readouts warn of safety or other system failures. All buttons, levers and dials are within easy reach. The new, silver metallic center stack features larger and easier to use dials and buttons. Just below is an open storage bin and 12-volt power outlet. The center console features a dual cupholders, and a deep storage bin with padded top. There is more storage in the bottom door slots and glove box. Behind the bin are dual cupholders.

The standard AM-FM stereo radio is powerful, and features a six-in-dash CD player with the sounds coming through six powerful stereo speakers. Other standard equipment includes air-conditioning, an overhead console with dual map lamps, and sunglass bin, power-remote controlled sideview mirrors, variable-speed wipers and washer, electronic cruise-control, rear glass defogger, power windows/door locks, thick, cut-pile carpeting with optional carpeted floor mats, grab handles at each A-pillar eases front entry and exit. Remote keyless entry/exit, car alarm, and an engine immobilizer keep the XRunner more secure. The rear seat section of the access cab XRunner is too small and uncomfortable for any adult. You can get two small children in the back, but the fixed seat bottoms and seat backs are uncomfortable for long trips. The rear seating area is a perfect place for cargo that you want more secure. To help with loading and unloading cargo in the rear seat section, the front passenger seat tumbles forward by pushing a lever at the bottom of the seat. The new Tacoma Double-Cab model does have more roomy comfortable enough for two adults. Tacoma standard safety features include driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags with occupant classification system and passenger airbag cutoff switch, three-point safety belts for all four seats with front pretensioners and force limiters, rear top tethers and anchors for child seats, front and rear crush zones, and side-impact beams in each of the doors. Optional are curtain airbags, traction control and a vehicle stability control (VSC) system that works together with the electronic throttle, ABS, EDB, and Brake Assist systems. Traction control and VSC are not available in the XRunner, so you can easily spin the wheels and make smoke at launch You can get the rear loose in the turns, and then use the throttle and brakes to get back in line. The all-new 2006 Toyota Tacoma XRunner is arguably the best-looking and best-performing mid-size pickup truck on the market. But the XRunner is not just all show and go. It can also safely tow up to 6,500 pounds when equipped with the optional hitch, helping to make the XRunner the perfect personal pickup for your everyday chores, and weekend fun and excitement. SUMMARY JUDGMENT Underneath that wolf's clothing lies...a wolf. And a pretty practical truck to boot.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2006 Toyota Tacoma XRunner Price: $23,110.00 base Optional carpeted four-piece floor mats: $130.00 Engine type: 4.0 liter, DOHC, 24-valve, aluminum block/heads, with VVT-i Horsepower: 245 hp at 5,200 rpm Torque: 282 lb.ft. of torque at 3,800 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: six-speed manual, limited slip differential Front suspension: Independent double-wishbone, firmer and shorter coil springs, specially tuned Bilstein gas-charged shocks, 1.18in. stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Solid axle, leaf springs, specially tuned Bilstein gas-charged shocks positioned outside of the frame for better rear control, .98in. stabilizer bar with firmer bushings to control rear body lean Wheels/tires: 18x7 aluminum alloy wheels, 255/45R18 Bridgestone Pontenza high-performance radial tires Brakes: Front - 12.5-inch vented, steel discs clamped with dual piston calipers Rear - 10-inch drums ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EDB), Brake Assist (BA) Overall length: 221.3 in. Overall width: 74.6 in. Overall height: 70.1 in. Curb weight: 3,690 lbs. EPA mileage estimates: 16 mpg/city, 21 mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds

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