The new Tacoma is made for thrill seekers

Phil Berg
Special to The Detroit News

"This truck is a bad-ass," said Toyota's general manager Bill Fay at the introduction of the newest Tacoma mid-size pickup Monday at the Detroit auto show. The normally buttoned-down vice president Fay was not just describing the improved rugged terrain prowess of the truck, but the financial beast the pickup has become in the 20 years since it was created for the American market — it now boasts about 60 percent of all sales of mid-sized pickups, and 40 percent of those sales are for up-market equipped off-road versions. The new Tacoma is going on sale next fall, lighter, stronger, and with the choice of a sophisticated 3.5-liter V-6 engine with two different types of fuel injection, or a more frugal four-cylinder engine.

The new truck is outfitted for thrill-seekers, said Fay. It features an automatic "crawl control," which will do everything but steer the truck in off-road situations. Think of it as autonomous driving on the trail. "Your friends will think you're a real pro," promises Fay.

Other neat touches include an aerodynamic wing built into the top of the truck's tailgate; a 120-volt outlet in the bed of the truck; and a GoPro video camera mount next to the interior rear-view mirror to record all of the owners adventures while driving. The video mount is not an option — it comes on every new Tacoma.