What We're Driving: 2012 Tacoma Baja T/X

Tacoma Baja II

Toyota is letting us spend some time with the coming Baja T/X Pro before anyone else so we can offer some observations and driving impressions about the package. They don't start rolling the trucks off the San Antonio production line until June and we're guessing exact pricing won't come until right before that, but they've given us their target price of $35,000. 

This is the exact vehicle we had the opportunity to take a quick drive several months ago at the Texas Truck Rodeo, but at that event, the truck had only 41 miles on it. As it sits in our driveway, it has 117 miles on it. We'll be adding to that, with many of the miles being off pavement.

We'll let you know what we find out when we get all the data and impressions sorted. For now, after just a few hours behind the wheel, it seems to be catching the eye of just about every other Tacoma and Tundra owner we've driven past. We wish we had a dollar for every thumbs-up we've seen. 


That's really how ALL TRD OffRoad tacos should sit right out of the box. 4.10s and the A760 trans are of control yrds wishlist items, too.

except for the tires.

A/T tires are good for a casual trip to the supermarket but that's about it.

I wonder what market Toyota is hoping to satisfy. At first glance it doesn't seem to be competitive with the Raptor.

Looks the same to me.

What amazes me is they have not had this truck in the hands of anyone to test it. 76 miles after several months? That poor thing has been sitting on a lot somewhere for months! It's supposed to be a new package. Why not give it to someone, anyone, to drive it and give feedback.

Whatever you do, do not mention the "larger over sized" tires as they are the same size I have on my 2001 Tacoma without a lift. I do like the rims though.

When it comes to going through the sand, these are the best. Full size PU's just bog down from being too heavy, unless they have huge tires. My Chevy Avalanche weighs 6,000 lbs.

If you're in Texas take it down to North Padre Island Park (Corpus) you can drive for 60 miles along the beach. There is a sign that says "4wheel drive only beyond this point". Then it is another 60 miles of salty sand South.

Tacoma really needs an aluminum small block V8(Chevy); but then the frame would bend up like a noodle, requiring reinforcement, and a major costly rebuild would ensue.

Say what you like about Toyota but the Tacoma has real staying power. Give Tacoma credit for staying in the game which is more than you can say about Ford with the Ranger. Good job Toyota.

Ford Ranger was around for 30 years. The mid-size reincarnation of the Tacoma has only been around since 2005. Let's see where they both are 30 years from now.

@Tim--True Ranger was around for 30 years but now Ford has abandoned all but the full size market. Toyota has been making smaller trucks for close to 50 years and so has Nissan long before GM, Ford, or Chrysler. Ford imported a Mazda truck before the Ranger (Ford Courier), GM imported an Isuzu Truck (called the Chevy LUV), and Chrysler imported a Mitsubishi truck (Dodge D-50). Ford and Chrysler gave up the midsize truck market and they all gave up the compact truck market (Ranger was the last true compact truck). You can argue that the compact and midsize truck market are no longer profitable for Ford and Chrysler but the fact is they both gave up on it when gas prices are going up. It remains to be seen if Ford or Chrysler reenter this market but for now they are not in it. Time will tell. Meanwhile Toyota, Nissan, and GM are still in the midsize market. This is just the facts as of now.

Great looking. I hope you can get the decals off or order without them.

You said the Tacoma has real staying power and then took a shot at the Ranger which has been around longer. That is unfair because the Tacoma has a relatively short lifespan. It has only been here since 1995 and has only been a mid size since 2005 when they killed the compact Tacoma. So it's real staying power is less than 7 years.

Ford hasn't said they are abandoning a market. They are abandoning the current Ranger. It is more like a break. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new small pickup from Ford that has been rumored to be working on. In the meantime you can still buy a 2012 Ranger off the lot.

Mid size Toyota Tacoma 2005-2012 = 7 years.

Ford Ranger 1983-2011/2012 fleet = 29 years.

The current Tacoma needs to stay in the game a lot longer than 7 years to prove it has staying power.

Is there room for one size larger tires? In the 33.5-34 inch range? 285's?

The Taco rules the off road path! It's the only Toyota I'd ever buy. I'm a Chevrolet man but their small trucks are a joke. Well, so are their fullsizers now.. Still, no American truck Chevy,Ford or Dodge has come close to what the Tacoma has acheived. A true midsize that just kills the competition on the trails. I was hoping this new Colorado would have got the job done but I'm unimpressed. What an ugly pile..

Funny that Oxi said Toyota sticks to basic trucks...looks like this thing isnt basic and it has all of Toyota's TuRD flash on it !

@ JeremyPaulsen33,

Sure the Tacoma rules,rusted frames,blown driveshafts,cracking tailgates...they sure they rule the clunker kingdom !

How is the Tacoma so good in the trail ? It's not ,its bigger than the Dakota was , and awhile back some people were saying the Taco was better because its smaller but in fact its bigger...Fact is any truck is a good off roader,even oxi modified his truck because stock it was a turd and couldnt do anything off road ! Jeep is far the best off roader by far !

@Ford850 - It was probably being used as a show truck. Probably most of the miles on it were from loading and off loading from the car carrier.
@Hmm - sounds like you are talking about the Tundra. Real original diatribe.
Nothing like a Toyota article to get the blood boiling and the unsubstantiated complaints rolling.
@ Tim - would you feel better if Jeff just said small trucks?

@Uncle Bud- Tacomas with a slight lift (just like this) can fit a 255/85R16 pretty snugly, but the wider 285 is really tight. I guess it depends on how much rubbing you think is acceptable.
@Lou- think you're right. Pretty sure that truck was at NAIAS. You're DEFINITELY right about how every ID10T has to bring up every problem there ever was with a different model truck when there's a Toyota post.
@BobMC- Toyota had a sweet concept truck a while ago- Access cab with a 5ft bed, sporting 33s and a V8-http://www.worldcarfans.com/108110514583/toyota-tacoma-v8-incross-concept-at-sema-2008
I think the Tacoma would be more fun with the 2GR-FSE/A760 and 4.88 gears. That would rip!

well as long as they keep it south the frame wont rust away.
hell toyota rep. just told me their only good for 200000 miles
in good weather. no salt please.

make in the u.s. with cheep china steel. i just speek from owning one. the worst thing i have ever done. thank god its gone and back to a dodge.


A jeep can off-road that is until you add some payload in its small-ish cargo capacity, then it falls to the wayside...

jeeps WERE good off-roaders, not even the military uses them on the front lines anymore...they cannot hold the weight of armor, lack cargo capacity and are roll-over prone...

Not with this pickup that will be tested, but really, how many pickups out there can truely off-road with a 4-cylinder gas engine other than a Toyota pickup?

None as good as a Toyota can...

@ RJ

china steel huh? Thats why one of Toyota's bigger suppliers of steel is AK Steel in Middletown Ohio 20 minutes from where i live. Ask ANYONE who works there about Toyota. They have to change rollers 3 times as often because if there is even 1 imperfection in a roll they will reject the ENTIRE roll. the other manufacturers like Dodge for instance will still buy those rolls! Thats why you WONT find a late 90's toyota truck or ANY 2000 plus models with rusted bodies on them, but you find ones from Dodge, Ford, and Chevy ALL OVER the place with rusted cab corners and rockers and bed sides ect.

Let me go ahead and answer your next retort for you...........
Yes Toyota bought back Tacoma's from 95-2000 for rusty frames (that were built by Dana corp. the SAME people who made frames for Ford, Dodge, and Chevy) but Toyota is the only company making it RIGHT by their customers.

@Lou-Thanks I meant small trucks.

@Tim I was not trying to diminish the importance of the Ranger. I think the Ranger was a great truck and I came very close to buying one. Toyota is not a newcomer to the small truck world especially the USA. In the early 1960s Toyota and Nissan were the first successful manufacturers of small trucks. If you want to say who was the first small truck producer I am not really sure but Crosley made a very small truck in the 1940s and 1950s. Before that I would say the original Chevy trucks from the 1920s and before and the early Model T Fords. It was Datsun (Nissans) and Toyota successfully marketing and improving their small trucks to where the Big 3 took notice and decided that they needed to market their own small trucks which were imported from Mazda, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi in the mid 1970s in order to compete with Datsun and Toyota and to give the Big 3 time to develop their own small trucks. Back in the 1970s Datsun was the small truck leader and was the first to introduce an extended cab pickup "The King Cab". Just because the Tacoma grew in size does not mean that Toyota has no experience in the truck market especially the small truck market. Toyota did what the Big 3 have done they grew the size of their cars and trucks. Detroit has been growing their vehicles and downsizing them and then growing them in size again for at least 60 years. Personally I would love to see Ford, GM, or someone introduce a true compact truck and not put it on steroids. Ranger was the last of the true compact trucks and because of this it will be missed. I hope you are right and Ford will be back with a new compact truck. I will give Ford credit where credit is due and Toyota and the others deserve credit as well. I also think GM makes good cars and trucks despite what some of those that comment on this blog think. I do not think you can go wrong with any of them. Enough said.

The Ford Ranger when it comes to off-roading is one of the WORST pickups out there!

The older twin-I beams lacked front ground clearance and it was so low to the ground with horrible approach angles, etc...

The newer Rangers have their torsion bars so low and unprotected, you can actually see them from the side at a stoplight...

Keep em on road or on beginner trails...

@hemo lol,

True indeed about where Toyota sources their steel from, the HATERS simply spew their hatred without understanding anything about the auto industry less their ignorant minds!

Here is a quote you can tell them:

"You think education is expensive, try ignornace"

We get it. In stock form, Tacomas are the superior midsize truck for off-roading. I'm sure most anyone who engages in really serious off-roading already knows that, so you don't have to keep beating a dead horse by constantly bringing up ground clearance and approach and departure angles. Just try and remember that there are other factors consumers use to buy a truck aside from how well it does in the rough stuff (payload, towing, fuel efficiency, price, styling, etc), none of which are necessarily more important than the other.

@Luke in CO...

When you have a 4x4, off-road should be the key feature, not payload, towing, etc... that is for 2wd work trucks...

Semi's do not have front drive YET look at how much weight they can pull and carry...

If your buying a 4x4, off-roading should be the most important subject matter or else why the hell do you need the front drive for and that extra weight? For looks?

@oxi - We've beat this dead horse before. Your truck is a toy. The little dot is a period. You don't 4x4 for work, or search and rescue, for military service, or law enforcement. Your truck is a toy. (Period).
If off-road is the primary mission of the machine you use, there are multiple other specialized tools that are cheaper and better suited for playing offroad.
It boils down to preference.
You like your truck.
I get it.
You loose all credibility by talking down to the rest of us.
Owning a 4x4 truck for most, has little to do with PLAYING offroad.
Most of us don't buy trucks for toys.
My truck isn't better or worse than your truck.
Mine does what I want it to do.
Yours does what you want it do do.
Don't be so arrogant to think that you know what I need.
You sound like a politician.

The argument that off-road capability should be the most important characteristic is your opinion, not an absolute fact. Apparently you enjoy some extreme off-roading, and have chosen the truck that best fits your needs. Great. We all don't have to drive in Baja to justify having 4WD. Muddy construction sites, deep snow drifts, slick launch ramps are all perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting 4WD. At the end of the day it is up to the individual consumer to decide if they want a 4x4 truck, and justify that decision to themselves.


I would rather have a capable toy than be a wanna-be carrying all that extra weight of a front drive doing little if nothing with it...

If your not going to use it often, why waste the money on a front drive?

Fuel prices are going up, so enjoy that extra weight doing little for you up front less for show...

Toyota made a neat pickup called the PreRunner, the look and ground clearance of a 4x4 but without the front drive, thus weight savings, etc...

The way most use their front drives, this should be an option on full-size pickups period...

@Lou & Luke in CO,

I actually use my pickup in tactical mission profile to weather spot of the National Weather Service in my area...

It is my community service to be out in the field during inclement weather and send reports to the NWS to update on TV and radio to warn the public of dangerous storms, intensity, locations and paths...

I don't think either lou or myself were calling into question your need for your truck. Obviously you have bought the truck you want that fits your needs. All I ask is that you not ridicule people who have bought a truck that doesn't fit your narrow definition of "need."

@oxi - you still don't get it. Luke in CO gets it. Most pickup buyers get it.
I can afford 4x4 and want 4x4. I don't play off-road. The operative word is PLAY. If there is 2 feet of snow overnight I NEED to get to work. I can take my kids to school or get them from school as well. I can go camping, hunting and fishing, and haul my toys. I can take my dogs out into the bush. My boots or toys do the rest.
The extra weight of the front diff and T-case matters little to me. just like I don't care if the heated mirrors, power seats, or backup camera add weight to the truck. That size and weight makes for a very stable platform. A compact truck is useless for me now. Even the Tacoma double cab does not offer what I want. That doesn't mean I come on this site and shoot down anyone with a compact.
Does the extra weight of steel skid plates, bumpers, canopy, cargo rack, steel wheels, bigger tires, etc bother you?
it must if you had to add 1 ton capable springs to your overloaded and overworked TOY. (I say toy as in PLAY TOY not derogatory term for Toyota).
Driving around chasing storms sounds like fun and a form of play to me. Why do you need 4x4 for that? You are playing storm chaser. Good for you. Why do you need a 4x4 in the first place? By your own admission - you play off-road. You don't go out there for anything other than recreation. Your truck is just as much a lifestyle choice as mine. I have mine equipped for what I want it to do. You have yours equipped for what you want to do. When you drive your truck to work every day, it is a bigger waste than mine is. You don't need off-road tires, heavy bumpers, skid plates etc to go to work.
Who is the poser then? (with the vanity licence plate).
I don't pretend to be anything other than a full time dad, a family man who likes the outdoors.
I await your typical arrogant or evasive reply!


Status symbol alert...

Most buy them to show that they are some sort of man, place some antler stickers on them, gun or bow decals and they think they are more of a man driving that big and loud full-size pickup...

You don't get it...

I love the camo wraps and decals of late, again more man-ish right?

I like the ones that buy a pickup and pull a small trailer behind because they do not want to use their pickup bed for what it is for, how pathetic!

The older ones that buy a 4-door version, for what? Kids have left long ago yet they still buy a 4-door?

All will enjoy the higher fuel prices at the pump for the 'exceptionailist' way of life...and then they will complain about Obama as to why the fuel prices went up...NOT!

"You think education is expensive, try ignorance."


I am a weather spotter, I have NOTHING to do with storm chasing. Do not confuse me with those guys that get a thrill going around after tornadoes, we are a select group, the storm chasers actually use our reports to help them locate storms and tornadoes...

I have been through 2 tornadoes in my state last year, debris and trees all over the roads. I had to get a Sheriff squad car through a downed tree because his vehicle could not make it to respond to the EF-1 that touched down about a mile from location last year...

The biggest fear is the flash flooding and I am prepared for that. Trees do not scare me, I have plenty of proper angles to overcome trees, but I typically move them out of the roadways so people can get through...

My strategic mission profile is what they call a bug out vehicle. My vehicle is ready to escape the cities and tackle almost all types of terrain, etc... during economic collapse, anarchy, chaos, etc...I have the ability to make my own path and not stick to what the sheeple will which is paved maybe graded roads that could be full of checkpoints, etc...

Good luck when everything crashes soon!

@Oxi - my "big" truck is rated at 14/18 EPA. A Tacoma V6 4L manual 5 speed is 15/19. A V6 Auto 5 speed is 16/21. A Tacoma 2.7 L with 5 speed manual is 18/20. A 2.7 Auto 4 speed is 18/21. Looks like a guy in a Taco lifestyle vehicle is going to bitch and moan as much as a guy with a full sized pickup. Probably much more. I doubt you are getting 18/20 with all the weight on your truck. I can get 15/20 regularly out of mine. Can you exceed your mpg ratings?
I spot weather too. I just look out the window and think "Hmmm. looks cold and windy today".
If a guy wants to buy a crewcab 4x4 Ford to drive around in, so what? It's his money (or the banks).
Thanks for adding a taste of paranoia to your normal attitude.
Funny - my ethics,morals and training have me heading to the aid of those "during economic collapse, anarchy, chaos, etc". I'd rather succumb like those that went into the World Trade centres to render aid than run the other way.

Hey Lou,

I have a 1996 Toyota Corolla that gets over 30mpg as my main daily driver...

Enjoy your fuel bill soon...

By the way your not affiliated with a local weather service office are you or the equivalent in Canada?

I am and have a back door communication line for weather spotters to relay information so they can issue weather advisory's from our reports in the field...

You sir, do not know anything about the weather to issue reports that will be sent to the public nor have you been trained as a spotter...

When I am in the field during inclement weather, I work with and assist local law enforcement and first responders since I am typically in a prime position when severe weather strikes giving reports to the NWS and locations of damage and debris, etc...

My BOTT (pickup) in tactical mode is far more capable than a Sheriff's sedan or even emergency vehicles, so I am in a position to be able to respond to those that need assistnce when others cannot get there due to flash flooding, debris, etc...

If I am not skirting a storm and choose to punch the core, I typically hang out in a ditch where a standard pickup could not even dare enter or get out of as a shield against high winds...

How tall are you? You sure come across as someone trying to make up for something. And you are proud of being labeled as "bug out"? It sounds like a cockroach zipping away when the lights are turned on.
Toyotas are fine, and so are a lot of other trucks. Please stop trying to make it sound like there is only one use for a truck. Most truck buyers like to drive their trucks daily. They don't want to buy 2 vehicles when they can buy one that does most things well. I'm sorry to hear your's isn't up to that task.

@oxi - I've never put huge miles on any of my trucks. Motorcycles and other vehicles are more economical for running around. If one factors the purchase cost, insurance costs, and maintenance costs of an extra vehicle - fuel will have to get pretty damned expensive for me to consider buying a "to and from work" beater. I can walk to work in 35 - 50 minutes depending on the weather. Point is, as I have posted, those 4 banger and V6 Tacoma's don't get very good gas mileage for their size. No real fuel economy advantage to what I own if I want to compare 4x4 to 4x4.
My comment was a joke. I do not know if Environment Canada uses volunteer weather spotters.
Your arrogance is coming out again. How do you know what I am trained to do???
When it comes to weather I had taken a course in weather as part of my Forest Resource Management degree. Weather interpretation plays a critical role in forest fire suppression, fire risk assessment, and executing prescribed burns.
Again, you fail to see that various size trucks have their purposes, benefits and shortcomings. To continue on with your weather stories, the small truck as you say can be very handy, but what kinds of vehicles are used to restore services post storm? That would be 3/4 to 1.5 ton pickups, service vehicles and larger service units.


BOV or bug out vehicle is a term used to name a vehicle that can bug out when chaos or panic grips cities, a vehicle that can make its own path and not rely on paved roads to get to a safe location...

My strategic mission profile of my pickup serves as a BOTT or bug out tactical truck, that not only has the ability to off-road almost anywhere and various types of terrain overland but also carries weight while off-roading...

My pickup is being fitted to carry 6 months of survival gear into an undisclosed location to survive the shock and power vacuum before things settle back down...

A person is smart, people are dumb and panic very easily...

So I guess we've all learned something: the only legitimate reason to own a 4x4 truck is to build it up as a mobile bomb shelter for the coming zombie apocalypse.

@Luke in CO - that whole Mayan calendar thing. LOL Anyone ever consider that the Mayan mathemetician that developed it didn't feel like counting any higher? Y2K didn't end the world.Neither did the end of the last millenium (2000 change over to 2001).

I've seen the movie 2012, so I know exactly what do to. Got myself a Town Car limo and a single-engine plane standing by at the local airstrip.

In all seriousness, it will be interesting to see the reports of people stockpiling water and canned beans in their basement as we get closer to December.

@ Luke in CO - my buddy owned a motorcycle shop. He made a killing selling generators leading up to Y2K. All of the other shops couldn't keep them in stock either.

The only reason I got a ram trx4 quad cab 4x4 truck is because it makes me feel more like a man. If I wanted to be a _itch I would of gotten a Tacoma.

@Lou & Luke in CO,

I do not and have never believed in the hype about the Mayan calendar! They actual fell because of a drought anyways...

I am realistic when it comes to things as I like to call, when technology fails or economic collapse which are both likely to happen...

The federal government is over $15 trillion in debt (close to $80 trillion with entitlements) and yet more deficits each and every year prompting more Treasury Bills to be sold to foreigners to fund our governments existance let only the central banks continued printing of money and QE's galore devaluing the purchasing power of the dollar...

The U.S. dollar is hanging on thing threads and when that goes as the global currency, good luck U.S. We are already hearing reports and rumors of a replacement t the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency especially from BRIC nations...

And I say it now, if the markets take a shock (crash back during depression) and society panic's and makes a run to the banks to withdraw their cash, the government and banks will issue a bank holiday and shut them down. What then folks? It has happened before under FDR...

Technology fails...the power grid is great but what happens when it goes down, which can be done so easily even with a few key strokes? How long before society goes ballistic without power?

The average meal is trucked in over 1,400 miles today, the average city has at best 3-5 days worth of food, so what will happen when thepower grid goes down and you cannot get fuel, food cannot be trucked in and city water pumps no longer function and this happens on a much bigger scale than a simple Katrina storm?

You should be getting ready for scenario's like this!


Generators are so short minded thinking...

Learn to live without power if the power grid goes down...

First you will need a steady supply of fuel for the generator, so how long before that runs out since most fuel stations rely on power to pump fuel at the pump, refineries need power to refine crude into fuel and yet trucks are needed to get refined fuel to the pump and who says truck drivers will be out there driving during this time especially considering society will make a run to the fuel stations anyways if they still have a means to get that fuel up from the tanks...

Answer this question, how long before a typical city runs out of fuel if ALL vehicles went to the fuel pumps at the same time?

Same with food, how long before the grocery store and restaurants run out of food if ALL households in the community hit those stores at once?

And for security reasons, if you have a generator, the only one in your neighborhood as an example, how long before people start to come towards your home?

Studies have shown about 1/3 of sane people like lets say in your neighborhood will go ape shyt to feed themselves and provide for their children, etc...

And imagine if theycannot get their meds? Be prepared in some folks!

I'm not sure if all this pontificating is to win the rest of us over to your way of thinking, or if you're merely bragging, but either way I don't understand why you continue to feel the need to justify your built-up Tacoma. I honestly could care less what you drive or why you drive it. You have your reasons, as do the rest of us. All that really matters is that you enjoy it.

As for all talk of economic doomsday, I'm just going to add a couple of points. The government has a staggering debt, and this definitely needs to be addressed, but the extremely low Treasury bill rates demonstrate the world's appetite for our debt and their confidence in our ability to repay it. And as for predictions that the dollar will no longer be the world's reserve currency, those predictions have been going on for 15 years. The euro was supposed to supplant the dollar, and now the yuan is being presented as the next reserve currency. China holds billions in US debt, so they have a lot to lose if the value of the dollar collapses, and they aren't in a rush to make the yuan the reserve currency since that means reliquishing control of its value to global markets. Any changes to the dollar's standing would most likely happen gradually and without the complete collapse of markets.

Could the worst happen? Sure, but an asteroid could also hit Earth next year too, which would render all armageddon preperations meaningless. Now can we just get back to talking about trucks?

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