toyota tacoma

The 2017 Toyota Tacoma is a tidy truck, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get down and dirty with the rest of them.

Upon first glance, the 2017 model doesn’t have any shocking contrast from any other design that you’ve seen out on the roads since Toyota launched the Tacoma second-generation redesign in 2005. But I can guarantee you that the minute you get up close and personal with the 2017 Tacoma, all comparisons to anything produced in 2005 fly right out the power window.

Then comes the “it’s important for a mid-size truck to have tough features when it can’t rely on sheer size to make it macho” bits. Nothing lacking here. The Tacoma has the same towing capacity as a full-size Ford F-150 without the extra bulk. Your eye is drawn to the muscular fenders that look like a man in the gym with quads that have never seen a skipped leg day. The aggressive grill, hood scoop, angular headlights, and sharp lines beef up the truck’s exterior. This year’s color options are also eye-catching in the right ways. The Inferno colorway is a deep orange that is vibrant but also earthy—an oxymoron of a paintjob.

toyota tacoma

The Tacoma’s power lies in everything it can pack into a punch. No design opportunity has gone to waste with the 2017 model—from accouterments such as the rearview camera and the dual-adjusting climate control to the 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood. That power plant is good for 278 horsepower and 265 lbs-ft of torque which helps the TRD Pro conquer off-road challenges while still utilizing the same highway fuel-saving efficiency tech that the Prius boasts. (The Tacoma is good for 18 MPG city and 23 MPG highway.)

Spending a weekend out on the Oregon coast to test drive the TRD Pro 4×4 model (TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development), I was initially taken aback by how approachable the truck is once you get behind the wheel. Pickups are often intimidating to the everyday driver, but anyone who can drive a Camry can comfortably control the Tacoma. The truck handles like a smooth sedan more than a rocky terrain-scrambling truck. The driveability makes the Tacoma a one-size-fits-all—it belongs on the city streets just as much as the backroads. It’s even a breeze to parallel park.

toyota tacoma

The interior is beyond spacious. After the first two hours of our road trip from Portland to the Oregon coast, I didn’t feel like I was sitting inside a shoebox. Bluetooth, a touchscreen navigation system, sunroof, heated seats, blind spot monitoring, and leather-trimmed details adds a bit of sophistication and modern comfort to the truck. Aside from a fully-stocked refrigerator or a flame-thrower, the Tacoma has basically all of your 2017 creature comforts and wants covered.

The most impressive feature of the 2017 Tacoma is one that establishes the truck’s place in the off-road world. Located overhead of the driver is a small, black button that says, “Crawl.” Arguably, it could say “I’ll Save You.” This button initiates the Tacoma’s Crawl Control feature, which allows the truck to detect slippage and apply the proper power to individual wheels should you get stuck. The Crawl feature can get you out of sand, mud, rocks, or any other stick situation where AAA or a friend with a chain would be the only option.

But because of the assisted-driving features, technology, and fluffy accessory options, honest, back-to-basics, truck purists might scoff at Toyota’s attempt to please drivers of all types with the updated 2017 model. But hey, perhaps there’s a Ram or F-150 waiting for those drivers.

With a masculine design, fully loaded features, and impressive driving technology incorporated all aboard the same four wheels, the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro is a jack of all trades for any driver who doesn’t want to choose sides. It’s friendly enough for a first-time truck owner and powerful enough for a tried-and-true pickup driver. And fun enough for anyone.