Tacoma Truck History (Updated for 2024)

Tacoma Truck History (Updated for 2024)

Throughout its history, the Toyota Tacoma has been known for its reliability, off-road prowess, and popularity among enthusiasts for modification and adventure activities.

The first generation, produced from 1995 to 2004, was still considered a compact truck and originated from the Hilux model.
The second generation, introduced in 2004, saw significant changes in size, power, and towing capacity.
The third generation, released in 2016, was developed by Toyota's engineering team in Michigan.

The fourth generation, starting from 2024, is built on the TNGA-F platform.

Read on for all the details...

Toyota Tacoma History

First Generation (1995-2004):

First produced in 1995, the Toyota Tacoma continued a history of compact trucks produced by Toyota. Although larger than the original Toyota pickup, the first generation Tacoma (1995-2004) was still considered a compact truck. This original model originated from the venerable Hilux truck, which is still available worldwide (See Hilux clip from Top Gear). This first generation also underwent two facelifts, one in 1998 (1997 for 2WD Trucks) and the other in 2001. Both were minor and didn’t change the mechanics of the truck much. It was available in two body styles: Regular Cab and Xtracab (extended cab) with rear jump seats. The first-generation Tacoma featured a range of engines, including a 2.4L four-cylinder and a 3.4L V6. The Tacoma's TRD (Toyota Racing Development) packages, offered enhanced off-road capabilities. and aftermarket upgrades were aplenty. Today the First Gen Tacoma is a very popular choice for heavily modified rock crawlers.

Toyota Tacoma First Generation History

Second Generation (2005-2015):

In 2004 the current second generation of the Tacoma debuted. This version of the truck is much larger than the previous model and is also much more powerful. Perhaps the biggest change was the new 1GR-FE V6 engine. With this engine the 2004 Tacoma maxed out at a 6,500lb tow rating – making this a great truck for the growing OHV crowd. The current generation Tacoma is also available as an X-Runner, which is a high performance model. The key features of the X-Runner include a 6 speed manual transmission, 18” wheels, a lowered suspension, and an upgraded X-Brace suspension package. It also offered increased interior space, improved handling, and updated engine options. The Tacoma introduced a new 4.0L V6 engine, providing more power and towing capacity. This same engine eventually made its way into both the FJ Cruiser and the 5th Gen 4Runner.

In 2009 Toyota announced that it would consolidate its American truck manufacturing by building the Tacoma in the same Texas factory as the Tundra instead of the factory in Fremont, California. The Tacoma also got a minor facelift in 2009 which included a slight modification in grill design, LED taillamps, and smoked headlamps on the TRD models. For 2011 Toyota made quite a few major changes to the truck. First, they dropped three manual transmission models from the lineup in favor of five four cylinder, four speed automatic models. The manual trans is still available on some packages with the V6 engine. 

Toyota Tacoma Second Generation History

Third Generation (2016-2023):

The 2016 Tacoma was developed by the Toyota engineering team in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They incorporated high-strength steel into the frame and body to improve rigidity and reduce weight. The suspension was fine-tuned to provide a smoother on-road ride and enhanced off-road capability. The third-generation Tacoma introduced a new 3.5L V6 engine paired with either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.

The TRD Pro version of the Tacoma offers the most upgrades, and its price started at $37,415 for the 4x4 Double Cab AT. It provides additional off-road capabilities straight from the factory. Overall, the 2016-2023 Tacoma boasted improved performance, fuel efficiency, and towing capacity, making it a compelling option for those seeking a versatile and capable truck.

Toyota Tacoma Third Generation History

Fourth Generation (2024-Present):

The 2024 Tacoma is all new, built on the TNGA-F platform, and will feature the 2.4L Turbo Four engine with a Hybrid Max option, the same basic powertrain found in the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander and other future vehicles. It will be officially released at Overland Expo WEST in Arizona on May 19, 2023.

Toyota Tacoma Fourth Generation History