The Best and Worst Years for The Toyota Tacoma (1995-2023)

If you love the Toyota Tacoma, then this article is for you! Today, we reveal the best and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma.

Our aim is to you to make the smartest choice for your next vehicle purchase. While this is an excellent truck, there are some Toyota Tacoma years to avoid.

Best and worst years for toyota tacoma

The best years for the Toyota Tacoma are widely considered to be 2015, 2010, and 2005, praised for reliability and minimal issues. Conversely, the worst years are often cited as 2016, due to transmission problems, and 2006 and 2007, known for frame rust issues.

It’s important for buyers to research specific models and their history for informed decisions. Let’s dive more into why we chose these as the best and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma.

Best And Worst Years For The Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup truck that has garnered respect for its durability and off-road capabilities. Since its introduction in 1995 as a replacement for the Toyota Hilux—rebranded as Tacoma for the North American market—we’ve seen this vehicle evolve across three generations.


  • First Generation (1995-2004): Known for its basic, sturdy build.
  • Second Generation (2005-2015): Brought enhanced features and size.
  • Third Generation (2016-2023): Focus on technology and comfort.
  • Fourth Generation (2024 – Present): All new design.

*Note: This article covers 1995 to 2023 Tacoma trucks. If you want to know more about the all-new 2024 Toyota Tacoma (4th Gen.) then read our full write up.

What Are the Best and Worst Years for the Toyota Tacoma 1 The Best and Worst Years for The Toyota Tacoma (1995-2023)

The Tacoma has maintained its popularity due to its rugged design, proven reliability, and strong resale value. Its versatility appeals to a variety of users—from daily commuters to adventure enthusiasts.

The truck offers different cab styles, bed lengths, and drivetrains, catering to diverse needs. Versatility has been consistent, in both the best and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma.

Key Tacoma Attributes:

  • Reliability: Tacomas are known for their long-term dependability.
  • Resale Value: They retain their value well over the years.
  • Off-Road Ability: Strong performance on rough terrain, especially TRD variants.

However, like any vehicle, the Tacoma has had its ups and downs through certain model years. We base our insights on data that reflect the experience of real owners and experts in the field.

The following chart summarizes the best and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma.

Best Model YearsWorst Model Years
2023, 2022, 20192016, 2012, 2009
2017, 2015, 20142008, 2007, 2006
2013, 2011, 20002005, 2004, 2003
19972002, 2001

When considering a Tacoma, it’s advisable to research specific years as some may come with issues that can affect overall satisfaction and cost of ownership.

Purchasing a Tacoma from the best model years list can provide a solid balance of efficiency, capability, and value. At the same time, it’s key that you know the Toyota Tacoma years to avoid, to stay away from potential trouble spots.

Best Years for The Toyota Tacoma

When considering the purchase of a used Toyota Tacoma, picking the right model year is crucial for ensuring reliability and satisfaction. Let’s focus on the model years that have stood out in terms of reliability, performance, design, and features.

Reliability and Performance

The Toyota Tacoma has several years known for their reliability and performance, notably the 2023, 2022, 2021, and 2020 models. Let’s break down what makes these years desirable:

  • 2021 Toyota Tacoma: Offering a robust V6 engine and an available six-speed automatic transmission, this year’s Tacoma stands out for its towing prowess while maintaining decent fuel economy.
  • 2020 Toyota Tacoma: Praised for its reliable performance, the 2020 model introduced upgrades to the infotainment system, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, enhancing the driving experience.

In terms of the suspension systems, both the 2021 and 2020 models offer a stable ride with adequate off-road capabilities. They also come equipped with advanced safety features like stability and traction control that contribute to their reliability.

Design and Features

The design and features of a Tacoma can greatly impact driver satisfaction. The best years bring forward both aesthetic appeal and functionality:

  • 2019 Toyota Tacoma: Known for its solid build, the 2019 Tacoma continued the tradition of a rugged exterior combined with an interior designed for comfort and durability. Its range of trims offered variety for different preferences and needs.

Regarding features, the recent best years of the Tacoma have made leaps in the infotainment system with larger touchscreens and more intuitive interfaces. Here’s a glance at the key design and feature elements:

Year ModelNotable Design EnhancementsInfotainment and Features
2021 TacomaBold, muscular body styleAdvanced driver-assist tech
2020 TacomaUpdated grille design8-inch touchscreen display
2019 TacomaRugged and durable interiorStandard TSS-P safety suite

Each of these years has brought something special to the table, making them strong choices for anyone in the market for a dependable and well-appointed pickup truck.

Toyota Tacoma Years To Avoid (Worst Years)

When considering the purchase of a Toyota Tacoma, it’s crucial to be aware of the model years that have earned a reputation for being problematic. Among these, the 2005, 2012, 2015, and 2016 models stand out for their higher volume of customer grievances and recall history.

In the list of best and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma, these years lead the list of Toyota Tacoma years to avoid.

Common Problems and Complaints

The Toyota Tacoma has had a series of common issues across various model years that prospective buyers should consider. Here is a breakdown of problems by year and their nature:

2005 Toyota Tacoma:

  • Transmission issues: Users reported problems with the automatic transmission shifting.
  • Rusting: Severe frame rust is a significant concern, leading to safety hazards.
  • Paint peeling and chipping: Owners noted premature deterioration of the paintwork.

2012 Toyota Tacoma:

  • Engine issues: There were complaints of engine stalling and loss of power.
  • Vibration during operation: Drivers experienced unusual vibrations while driving.

2015 Toyota Tacoma:

  • Brakes: Owners reported premature wear and issues with braking systems.
  • Lights: Some models had concerns with the illumination and durability of lights.

2016 Toyota Tacoma:

  • Lower ball joint issues: Defective ball joints could lead to loss of vehicle control.
  • Transmission issues: Like the 2005 model, the 2016 model had transmission problems, including harsh shifting.

Recalls and Safety Concerns

The following table summarizes the recalls and safety concerns regarding the Toyota Tacoma’s worst years:

YearRecall or Safety ConcernDescription
2005Frame rust recallRecalls due to potential for excessive corrosion in certain climates, affecting the vehicle’s structural integrity.
2012Airbag recallRecalls connected to airbags, which could affect passenger safety in the event of a collision.
2015Seatbelt recallA recall associated with the rear seatbelt assembly that could increase the risk of injury during an accident.
2016Rear differential recallConcerns over leaks in the rear differential that could lead to component failure and risk of a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been a vital source of information when assessing these issues, providing both safety ratings and tracking recalls.

Prospective buyers are encouraged to check NHTSA’s database for up-to-date recall information and to understand the historical safety concerns related to specific model years of the Toyota Tacoma.

Yearly Analysis of Toyota Tacoma

In assessing the Toyota Tacoma over the years, we find a mixed landscape with some years showcasing high reliability and others marked by known issues to be aware of.

Our review will examine each period, focusing on specific problems or highlights that could influence a buying decision.

Notable Years: 1995-2001

Though basic, the first Toyota Tacoma was reliable. However, there are still some Toyota Tacoma years to avoid. Here are some of the most notable.

1995-1997: These years are often celebrated for their durability and have become sought after in the used truck market. Notably, the 1997 Toyota Tacoma is particularly lauded for its reliability.

1998-2000: There were some reports of paint and body issues, including frame rusting, which became a concern for potential corrosion problems.

2001: This year saw a continuation of the trend with additional concerns about rot and rust, specifically regarding the body and frame of the vehicle.

Mid-2000s to Early 2010s

2003-2005: These were challenging years for Tacoma, with widespread reports of body and paint problems, along with rust issues, including frame rusting.

2007-2009 Toyota Tacoma: These models encountered various problems, with the 2009 year model facing transmission hesitations and difficulty with the leaf springs.

2010 Tacoma: The concerns persisted but with somewhat improved reliability over previous years.

2014-2020 Detailed Review

The third generation is one the most popular. Here are the best and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma from 2014 to 2020.

  • 2014 Toyota Tacoma: It stands out as a reliable choice, receiving favorable reviews for engine performance and durability.
YearReliabilityDurabilityRust IssuesFrame Rust
2016MixedFairSome issuesNoted
2017GoodGoodFew reportsFew reports
  • 2015-2016 Toyota Tacoma: The 2015 model was still a reliable vehicle, though the 2016 model experienced some setbacks, notably in transmission issues and body integrity.
  • 2017-2020 Toyota Tacoma: Recovery in the brand’s reputation is evident during these years, with improvements in reliability and minimization of earlier issues such as rust or transmission problems. The 2020 Tacoma is recognized for its high reliability and build quality.

Toyota Tacoma Variants

When considering a Toyota Tacoma, buyers should note the variability across different trims. Each is equipped with unique features and capabilities, ranging from the robust TRD Pro designed for off-roading to the luxurious Limited with advanced infotainment options.

Differences in Trims

The Toyota Tacoma offers several trims to cater to diverse driver needs. Each trim provides different design elements and safety features tailored to various driving conditions and preferences.

  • SR and SR5: These are the base and mid-level trims that offer standard features suitable for daily use with an emphasis on value.
  • TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road: Enhanced for performance, they come with sport-tuned and off-road suspension systems, respectively, to accommodate different driving styles.
  • TRD Pro: Geared towards the most rugged terrain, the TRD Pro boasts exceptional off-road capabilities with specialized equipment like skid plates and all-terrain tires.
  • Limited: For those who prefer more comfort and technology, this trim includes premium materials, advanced infotainment system, and enhanced safety features.

Special Editions and Packages

Toyota has introduced several special editions and packages that allow drivers to personalize their Tacomas even further.

  • Nightshade Edition: Offers a sleek, blacked-out design for a more aggressive appearance.
  • Trail Special Edition: Tailored for outdoor enthusiasts, it includes additional storage and all-weather floor liners.

Each of these variants builds upon the already solid Tacoma foundation with unique enhancements targeted towards specific driver needs and preferences.

Ownership Experience

When considering the ownership experience of a Toyota Tacoma, two crucial aspects come to the fore: maintenance and repairs, as well as the potential resale value of the vehicle. Decisions around these factors can significantly influence overall satisfaction with the Tacoma.

Maintenance and Repairs

Regular maintenance is essential for keeping a Toyota Tacoma running efficiently. Over the years, certain models have demonstrated a strong record for minimal repairs:

On the other hand, some years have shown a higher need for repairs:

  • 2016, 2012, 2006-2009: These Tacomas often require more frequent visits to the mechanic, making them part of the Toyota Tacoma years to avoid.

Common issues include:

  • Transmission problems
  • Engine issues
  • Paint and body concerns

Maintaining your Tacoma with regular check-ups can mitigate some of these issues, but keep in mind the potential for higher repair costs with certain model years.

Resale Value Insights

Resale value is a strong suit for the Toyota Tacoma, with certain years performing exceptionally well in the used car market:

  • High Resale Values:
    • 2017-2021: Recent models maintain value due to updated features and design.
    • 2011-2015: These years are valued for their reliability and lower incidence of major issues.
  • Lower Resale Values:
    • 2016, 2012: Buyer beware, as these years may depreciate faster due to their repair history.

The Toyota Tacoma typically holds its value well, often outperforming other vehicles in the same category. However, resale values can fluctuate based on the truck’s condition, mileage, and mechanical history. Prospective buyers of used Toyota Tacomas should prioritize models known for reliability to ensure a sound investment.

What Are the Best and Worst Years for the Toyota Tacoma 2 The Best and Worst Years for The Toyota Tacoma (1995-2023)

Buying Advice On The Best And Worst Years For The Toyota Tacoma

When looking for a Toyota Tacoma, it’s crucial to choose a year known for reliability and to be aware of common problems that could lead to costly repairs.

Selecting the Right Year

Best years for the Toyota Tacoma:

  • 2023
  • 2022
  • 2021
  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2011
  • 2000
  • 1997

The best Toyota Tacoma years have been identified based on factors such as overall reliability, driver satisfaction, and fewer reported issues. Choosing from these years can provide peace of mind.

Toyota Tacoma years to avoid:

  • 2016
  • 2012
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
  • 2005
  • 2004
  • 2003
  • 2002
  • 2001

These years have seen a higher incidence of reported problems, such as engine and transmission issues, and are not recommended for purchase.

Inspecting for Common Issues

Before finalizing your purchase of a used Toyota Tacoma, we should always have the vehicle inspected for signs of:

  • Engine Issues: Ensure the engine starts well, idles smoothly, and doesn’t make any unusual noises.
  • Transmission Issues: During the test drive, pay attention to how the transmission shifts and watch out for any hesitancy or jerking motions.
  • Rust Issues: Check the body, frame, and undercarriage for significant rust, as this could be indicative of more serious structural concerns.

A careful inspection can help avoid models with well-documented problems and lead us to a vehicle that will serve us well for years to come.

Industry and Consumer Ratings

When assessing the Toyota Tacoma, we look at numerous respected sources within the automotive industry. Notably, Edmunds consistently provides comprehensive reviews, offering insight into what consumers can expect from different Tacoma models.

For instance, the 2023 Tacoma SR5 faced criticism for minor issues such as a small temperature panel and insufficient storage compartments.

JD Power, another trusted name, rates vehicles on a range of criteria. They’ve assigned ratings such as 82/100 to the Tacoma, reflecting widespread consumer satisfaction as well as areas for improvement. These industry benchmarks serve as a guide for our analysis.

We also consider direct feedback from Tacoma owners. User ratings on platforms like Kelley Blue Book (KBB) often correlate with industry evaluations, but from the standpoint of everyday usability and long-term ownership.

Below, we’ve summarized key ratings from these sources:

JD Power82/1002023Reflects overall consumer satisfaction
Edmunds3.7/5.02021Mixed reviews highlighting pros and cons
KBB consumer rating4.0/5.02019Positive feedback with some reservations
KBB expert rating4.3/5.02019Expert validation of consumer sentiment

Our aim is to present a clear, distilled view of what auto experts and real users report about the Tacoma, so you can make an informed decision when considering this truck for purchase.

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