12 Reasons Why Toyota Tacomas Hold Their Value So Well

The Toyota Tacoma has long been one of the leading midsize truck models. In recent years, the trucks have turned eyes with high resale values, even the older models!

Why Do Toyota Tacomas hold their values so well? I have identified 12 reasons why the Toyota Tacoma tends to hold its value so well:

  1. Popularity
  2. Durability 
  3. Off-Road Capabilities 
  4. Very Few Recalls/Complaints
  5. Composite Truck Bed
  6. Engine & Tow Ratings
  7. Innovative Engine Technology
  8. A Simplified Interior
  9. Manual Transmission 
  10. Popular Design 
  11. The 2005-2015 Generation
  12. Available Customizations

Let’s break each point down into some more detail. Here’s a quick rundown of what makes the Toyota Tacoma truck hold its value so well.

The Leader Among Midsize Trucks

Full-sized pickup trucks come with a high price tag, and it seems like the average price of a new truck will continue to climb with each passing year. The Detroit Free Press  found a 48% increase in the average price of full-size, light duty pickup trucks, which is the highest price increase of any style of vehicle.

There’s speculation that manufacturers of full-sized pickups have begun to make their trucks too expensive for the average consumer. The modern-day pickup is becoming more and more like the SUV of yesteryear, with spacious cabs filled with technology designed to enhance the in-cab experience.

There are still many consumers looking for a truck without all the bells-and-whistles (and massive price tag). Enter the mid-size pickup truck.

Midsize trucks might be considered a “step down” from their full-size counterparts by some, but their simpler design, lower price tag, and incredible functionality makes them quite appealing to the average buyer.

While we are talking about the Toyota Tacoma, here’s a lineup of the midsize pickups on the market in 2020:

  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Ford Ranger
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • GMC Canyon
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Jeep Gladiator

While they’re all great trucks, the Toyota Tacoma stands at the top of the list, and for good reason!

1. Durability

The Toyota Tacoma has long held a reputation for being one of the more durable trucks on the market. According to a study from Motor Trend, 2.9% of the Toyota Tacomas included in the study lasted at least 200,000 miles, making them one of the most durable and reliable midsize trucks on the market.[1]

This may not immediately seem like that high number, but let’s put things into perspective: the Tacoma was the only pickup truck in the Top 10 list above otherwise dominated by SUVs. Pick-up trucks in particular can take quite a beating over the duration of their lifetime, and many don’t make it beyond 200,000 because the motor wears out, but rather they’re beat up after years of hard labor. 

Take care of your Tacoma, and it’ll transport you wherever you want to go for years to come.

2. Off-Road Capabilities

The 2015 Toyota Tacoma is one of the best-selling year models because it was the first year that the TRD Pro Model was introduced. Announced in early 2014, this truck contains a plethora of features designed with off-road enthusiasts in mind.

The off-road upgrades in the 2015 TRD Pro Model included:

  • Bilstein shocks
  • Tuned Front Springs
  • A front skid plate
  • TRD Shift Knobs
  • Floor Mats
  • Distinctive Black Wheels

Since its release, the TRD Pro Model trim of the Toyota Tacoma has been a major hit with off-road and overlanding enthusiasts and has remained one of the best selling mid-size trucks on the market, as is suggested by the Ellsworth American.[2]

Every year, Toyota continues to improve upon the original Toyota TRD Pro Model. The newer models feature oversized skid plates to protect the sensitive running gear at both the front and middle sections of the truck. 

The Tacoma comes with 12 inches of ground clearance, giving it more off-road capabilities compared to just about every other midsize truck on the market.

Most trucks of a similar size will come with around 8-10 inches of ground clearance, making the average pickup truck much less suitable for off-road adventures than the Toyota Tacoma. If you need the ability to get anywhere, the Tacoma is the truck for you.

3. Very Few Recalls/Maintenance Issues

Longevity has certainly been a strong suit for the Toyota Tacoma. There have been very few recalls over their impressive 25-year (and counting) run.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  keeps records on the number of recalls, complaints and manufacturer communications for each specific make and model. Tacomas produce very few complaints, which is especially impressive considering their immense popularity.[3]

4. The Composite Truck Bed Is Popular

The Tacoma’s bed is made of fiber-reinforced sheet molded composite that tends to be more durable than other truck beds and prevents rust. The bed is also filled to the brim with cargo compartments to hold all your gear. 

The 2019 model Toyota Tacoma’s bed has lower and shorter sides compared to the leading competitors for much easier loading and unloading. 

In 2015, the Toyota Tacoma was outfitted with an optional 115-volt bed-mounted power outlet, which turned out to be particularly useful for the avid outdoorsman. This feature has carried over throughout the years and can be found on the 2020 model as well.

5. Engine and Tow Ratings

The Tacoma comes standard with a 2.7L 4-cylinder engine. Higher-end models are powered by a 3.5L V6 engine (which we’ll get into later). Both engines have consistently ranked among the best in their class.

Tacoma trucks aren’t usually considered to be great tow vehicles. Both the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon have a bit more capability when it comes to towing options, but the Tacoma can still hold its own.

Tacomas can easily tow trailers between 3,000 and 6,000 lbs, which is plenty to pull most small trailers or campers. The 2020 Tacoma has a towing capacity of up to 6,800 lbs., depending on which engine and features you decide to go with.

6. Innovative Engine Technology Introduced In 2016

In 2016 Toyota introduced innovative engine technology for the Toyota Tacoma that put it a cut above the rest. The optional 3.5L V6 engine for the Tacoma runs on the Atkinson Cycle when full power is not required, improving fuel economy. 

The Atkinson Cycle engine is an internal combustion engine that is a more efficient alternative to the standard truck engine, which runs on the Otto Cycle, commonly referred to as the “four stroke”.

The standard Otto cycle works like this:

  1. Intake Stroke: The piston travels downwards from the top-center (the very top of the piston) and a mixture of engine and fuel is sucked into the cylinder
  2. Compression Stroke: The intake filter is closed. The existing air/fuel mixture within the cylinder is compressed to produce mechanical energy.
  3. Power Stroke: The spark plug ignites the air/fuel mixture. This forces the piston back down 
  4. Exhaust Stroke: The burned hydrocarbons are released from the cylinder 

This is quite a bit of jargon to take in. For visual learners, check out this 3-min video. 

The Atkinson Cycle is a clever innovation that’s been used in many extremely fuel efficient cars like the Toyota Prius. In the Atkinson Cycle, the intake valve stays open for the early moments of the compression stroke, which helps to conserve energy and boost fuel efficiency. The engine cycle in the Tacoma is switched from a conventional Otto cycle to an Atkinson cycle when the truck doesn’t need full power. 

Wouldn’t such a transition be noticeable? Not so, say researchers affiliated with the American Society Of Mechanical Engineers. They assert that the “switch is seamless and undetectable by drivers.” By choosing the Tacoma, you get the best of both worlds: power and efficiency.[4]

8. Simplified Interior

Our grandparents’ generation probably never could have envisioned a day and age when pick-up trucks would have so many advanced features. Modern pickup trucks are outfitted with some of the greatest wonders of modern technology, including lane sensors and back-up cameras.

But not everyone needs so many luxuries. Some drivers would much rather have a truck with an interior akin to the pick-up truck that their grandparents drove around.

The Tacoma is known for having a basic interior. Edmunds.com praised the 2019 Tacoma by stating the interior controls are simple and easy to understand. In effect, this can contribute to a more durable interior because any necessary repairs will be pretty simple (and cheap).

9. Manual Transmission

For drivers who want the engaging, fun driving experience only a manual transmission can provide, there aren’t many options available anymore. That’s why the Toyota Tacoma’s manual transmission has always been popular, whether it’s the 5 speed manual that comes standard with the 4-cylinder engine or the 6-speed manual transmission of the 6-cylinder engine. It’s one of the few modern vehicles that can come with a manual transmission.[5]

Off-road enthusiasts love manual transmissions. They provide the driver with an extra element of control over the truck versus automatic transmission systems. As if the added fun and control weren’t enough of a reason to go manual, manual transmission vehicles often have better fuel economy than automatic transmission vehicles (at least in older models).[6]

10. The Design of The Older Tacoma Models Has Been Popular 

The Tacoma trucks don’t just hold value due to their reliability; they also hold value because they’re cool! People love the design of Tacomas, even the early models. 

The Tacoma has one the most sought-after designs on the market. The hexagonal grille, high-lift profile, and rugged hood design are loved by all truck buyers. Even the most hardcore Chevy, Ram, and Ford owners can’t argue with the Tacoma’s attractive lines.

The truck is also often available in a wide array of paint options. The 2018 Toyota Tacoma came in 9 different paint schemes. The available paint schemes include designs with enticing names such as blazing blue pearl, inferno, Barcelona red metallic, and silver sky Metallic among others.

11. The 2015 Toyota Tacoma Was the Last of a Generation

The 2015 Toyota Tacoma was the last model year for the 2005-2015 generation and is commonly considered to be the most popular and reliable models. It was also the final appearance of the regular-cab.

Those who feel nostalgic for the regular cab Tacoma certainly will be interested in the 2014 model. The 2014 model year Toyota Tacoma came with a dealer-installed TRD (Toyota Racing Development) supercharger and big brake kits for the best driving performance.

Toyota was the last truck manufacturer to offer a supercharger kit. Now, it’s only available as an aftermarket product. 

12. The Toyota Tacoma Truck Is Customizable

Another reason the Toyota Tacoma series of trucks is so popular is the sheer number of aftermarket add-ons available for the truck, including many features that enhance the off-road experience.

One such add-on is the snorkel system that’s designed to allow the truck to go through deep water. This lets you drive straight through creeks and rivers without worrying about getting water in the air intake valve.

Not only is there a snorkel for water, there is also a TRD Pro Desert Air Intake system. Too much dust and dirt in a truck’s air intake system will lead to wear and tear within the engine system and potentially cause some damage. If you want to race around the sand dunes, the desert air intake system will prevent sand from getting into your engine, helping your Tacoma run efficiently in even the dirtiest locations. 

Toyota Tacoma: The Midsize Truck Champion

While there are plenty of wonderful midsize trucks on the market, the Toyota Tacoma stands a head above. It retains its value better than any other model because of its classic design, simplicity, durability, reliability, innovation, off road abilities, and available customizations. 

If you’re looking for a solid off-road vehicle to transform into your next overland rig, don’t rule out the Tacoma. It’ll help you conquer any trail and carry all the gear you’ll ever need.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.