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Peoria Toyota Tacoma Performs on the Job

Peoria Toyota Tacoma

When my editor told me I had to test out a Toyota Tacoma pickup for my next article, I was worried. Firstly, I’m not a pickup aficionado, and I was expecting to drive a full-size pickup truck rather than a mid-size one for my rigorous field test. Secondly, I had some serious work to do during my test drive, namely clear a small and ruthless forest from the future site of my sister’s cabin, which is somewhere in the woods between Peoria and obscurity, so off-roading was the theme.

In my mind, the typical mid-size truck owner is your average married guy trying to hold on whatever is left of his manhood or a high school student with an endless chunk of money set aside for window tinting. In either scenario, little lumberjacking is involved. Obviously, I was skeptical of the Tacoma’s ability to take me through creek beds and over fallen trees in places mapmakers shun. However, looking further into the many different faces the Toyota Tacoma could wear, I came to understand that the variety of cabs, engines and transmissions available made this a model almost any pickup shopper could customize to fit their needs.

The Tacoma comes in a variety of trim levels. Three cab options—the regular cab, Access Cab and Double Cab—all possess a range of options that make the Tacoma a very versatile truck. If you are that poor husband who needs a pickup that allows him to take his dog bird hunting the one time a year his wife allows it or that 17-year-old kid trying to impress the 16-year-old gals, the regular cab four-cylinder should do nicely to handle most rugged driving you will do, namely Nebraska Avenue after a harsh winter.

Yes, for most mid-size pickup drivers, the true test is real-world roads. Fortunately, I got to drive this truck for a couple of days before making the trip to the woods just outside of Nowhere, Illinois. This afforded me the opportunity to see how this truck performed as a city dweller, which is an important test for any mid-size pickup. I have good news for that trained husband or punk kid. The Tacoma drives like a dream. Handling and responding more like a Camry than a Tundra, the Tacoma is surprisingly nimble and very peppy. I was driving a V-6, but even the regular cab four-cylinder should be ably-equipped to satisfy the giddy-up needs of anyone seeking a smaller truck that combines fun driving and excellent utility. I even managed to do something manly during the street portion of my test, heading out to the lumber yard for some chains and saws.

With my boring test-driving duties out of the way, it was time to venture into the wilderness and get my hands and truck dirty. As I said, the Tacoma has a range of cabs and trims. It turns out this is one truck with a very serious side, and luckily that was the side I was given for my test run. I was driving an Access Cab, V-6 Tacoma with 4WD and the TRD Off-Road Rugged Trail package (Say that 42 times fast.) for my week of analysis/amusement.

Nothing beats taking a pickup off-road at the crack of dawn so you can get to work at first light, an edict my brother-in-law Tim was excitedly extolling as I pulled into the worksite moments before noon. I would have been earlier, but apparently I was grossly wayward in my interpretation on the napkin-map of nameless gravel roads meant to guide me to the nameless “path” that led to the future site of my sister’s dream cabin in the woods.

Fortunately, along my misguided adventure, I developed an excellent feel for the Tacoma’s capabilities. I found my TRD Off-Road Rugged Trail-equipped Tacoma a perfect vehicle for being lost on rugged, overgrown dirt paths. Remarkably free from quivering, my Tacoma benefitted from its Bilstein monotube shocks over severely washboarded gravel roads and small tree trunks. Its P245/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail mud and snow tires worked effortlessly in the numerous boggy situations in which I found myself. And its three-point seatbelt prevented me, upon eventual arrival, from leaping out madly at an unappreciative brother-in-law, who had drawn my “map”.

Upon arriving, I quickly assessed the land as one perfect for playing with a truck and absolutely ill-fitted for daily living, unless you’re an otter. The place was about two-parts top soil away from being a lake, coming across as equally unsuited for cabins and boats. Regardless, it was a fun day with the truck.

Finally setting into work, the Tacoma’s fiber-reinforced, sheet-molded, who-needs-Ziebart composite bed handled with ease the beating it took from the jagged, hefty tree parts being dropped upon it. The bed, coming in over 60 inches in length, was able to contain an entire tree’s worth of brush before hauling it off through the muck, an activity aided by the off-road package’s electronic locking rear differential.

Overall, the truck did everything I asked of it without any coaxing necessary. While I thought I would need the size and power of a full-size pickup, I again was taught a lesson I should have learned by now: Never underestimate a Toyota.

The Tacoma surpassed my expectations, to say the least. It presents impressive handling, sportiness and customizability. For almost all pickup buyers, the Toyota Tacoma can be molded to fit their needs, which is more than I can say for that marshy plot of land where my sister may one day learn to sleep under a mosquito net.

John Curtis is a Peoria, Illinois writer and auto enthusiast who contributes to several car websites and blogs, writing about the latest trends in the auto industry and reviewing new vehicles. His articles feature locally useful information about topics such as the Peoria Toyota Tacoma and Peoria, IL used cars.
Published: 2009-06-08
Author: John Curtis

About the author or the publisher
John Curtis is a writer and auto enthusiast who contributes to several websites and blogs, writing about the latest trends in the auto industry and reviewing new vehicles.


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