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Aussie ingredients for new Toyota Tacoma

New Toyota Tacoma has Aussie input, providing numerous clues to next-generation HiLux

22 May 2023

TOYOTA has revealed and announced full details of its fourth-generation Tacoma pick-up truck, a North American equivalent to the HiLux that provides a heads-up of what the Japanese giant has in store for its global next-generation ute – including its looks, interior uplift and the availability of hybrid drivetrains.


In a nod to Australian off-road expertise, the hardcore Tacoma Trailhunter variant features a swathe of high-performance components from Aussie off-road specialist ARB and its Old Man Emu suspension subsidiary.


Based on Toyota model cycles, the current-generation HiLux is due for replacement soon as it was launched here in 2015.


Since the Tacoma replaced HiLux models in North America two decades ago, both vehicles have remained roughly the same size and shared a family resemblance, but their underpinnings have diverged and they do not share drivetrains.


However, increasing commonality between Tacoma and HiLux is expected for this and future generations – especially as segment rivals are leveraging co-development partnerships to take their utes to the next level of refinement, interior comfort and technology without sacrificing off-road ability.

Toyota says its butch-looking new-gen Tacoma is redesigned and engineered from the ground up, starting with a new high-strength, boxed steel, ladder frame that allows numerous off road features including redesigned multi-link coil rear suspension.


A turbocharged four-cylinder drivetrain line-up includes a top-of-the line hybrid producing 243kW and 630Nm, dubbed i-Force Max and said to be the most powerful Tacoma powerplant to date. 


Recognising the Tacoma’s popularity for use in heavy duty off-roading – much like its HiLux counterpart – the new model introduces a Trailhunter grade produced with Aussie input that was previewed as a concept at last year’s SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas.


The Trailhunter is pitched as a purpose-built factory-modified “overlanding rig” similar in some ways to the locally fettled HiLux Rugged X model that disappeared last year from Australian Toyota showrooms and will be succeeded in the third quarter of this year by the GR Sport flagship.


Like the LandCruiser 300, as well as the latest Tundra and Sequoia models, the new Tacoma is built on Toyota’s TNGA-F global truck platform and is underpinned by a new laser-welded steel chassis claimed to increase rigidity over the previous generation and features aluminium on the upper body to reduce weight.


This has yielded LandCruiser-like off-road aids including Multi-Terrain Select with Mud, Dirt, and Sand calibrations plus Crawl Control enabling the driver to focus on steering while the system maintains one of five selectable speeds. Range-topping Limited variants also feature a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a centre locking differential when the hybrid driveline is specified.


Inside, new 8.0-inch and 14.0-inch touchscreens run Toyota’s latest multimedia software and connected technologies plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and Qi wireless device charging.


Overall, the new Tacoma interior is far more modern and premium, while maintaining a chunky and rugged look and sharing shades of its cabin design with the LandCruiser 300 updated RAV4.


Toyota designers and engineers further strengthened the Tacoma’s ladder chassis crossmembers to increase durability and carry Toyota’s factory-backed overlanding accessories such as rooftop tents and camp fridges. A high-lift jack point integrated into the rear of the chassis for off-road recovery purposes.


Extra chassis bracing was also used for the front cross member to solidly support the steering box to yield better dynamics and steering feel. A multi-link coil rear suspension set-up is also available, but leaf springs remain standard on SR, SR5 XtraCab and TRD PreRunner grades with each variant having a specific suspension tune.


Four-wheel disc brakes make an appearance on this generation Tacoma and the performance grade TRD variants go a step further with a larger front brake package, complemented by larger rears on hybrids.


The 2024 Tacoma now has an electronic parking brake that allows for low-speed radar cruise control and a brake hold function together with electric power steering to enable the fitment of more active safety and driver assist tech.

A 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is available in various states of tune, with and without hybrid assistance.


On entry level SR grades, it is good for 170kW and 330Nm while on other grades the engine generates 207kW and 430Nm when paired with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. An optional six-speed manual with rev-matching function is restricted to 201kW and 420Nm outputs. 


The hybrid pairs the 2.4-litre engine with a 35kW electric motor integrated into the eight-speed transmission and fed by a 1.87kWh NiMH battery pack that creates a total system output of 243kW and a healthy 630Nm.

Rear-wheel drive Tacomas feature an automatic limited-slip differential and four-wheel-drive models have an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case and an automatic limited-slip differential as standard while an electronic locking rear differential is fitted to TRD PreRunner, TRD Off-Road, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter grades. 


The Tacoma was collaboratively designed at Toyota’s North American-based CALTY Design Centres at Newport Beach, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan which were also jointly responsible for the new Toyota Tundra and Sequoia models.


Engineering research and development was conducted at Toyota Technical Centres in Michigan, Arizona, and California.


Improvements were made across all grades to Tacoma’s off-road capability, from severe rock crawling to high-speed desert racing. 

Tacoma chief engineer Sheldon Brown said Toyota “strove to provide even greater attribute separation between grades”.


“Each has a distinctive focus on the core attribute and uses hardware, spec, and performance-based tuning to deliver that unique experience more so than in the past.”
Toyota group vice president and general manager Dave Christ said: “With even more off-road capability and the quality, durability, and reliability that our customers expect along with a host of options for every owner, we’re confident that Tacoma will remain the top choice for mid-size pickup buyers when it arrives later this year.”

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