Best year Tacoma? AKA the never ending post


So Im in the market for a new rig. I like 4runners, landcruisers, discovery, Tundras, FJs and Tacomas. However with working at a Hot Rod shop I like to have a bed to haul greasy motors and parts, without having to lay down a tarp to protect the interior and trying to swing a motor in under the rear hatch door. So that leaves me with the tride and true Tacoma or another Tundra. My budget needs to be around 20K. So that limits me 2008 and older. Ive wanted a 04 Tacoma 4dr like Scott Bradys, so what kind of performance features would I gain buying a 08 rather than a 04 ? I currently have a 01 tundra v8, ext cab 2x4 that i like alot but not having a 4x4 really bothers me more than I thought it would after I bought it, but driving 40 min one way to work I figured hauling the extra lbs around would eat my wallet in gas. I like the larger bed room alot tho. I dont really see to many 1-2 gen tundras out there, so are they good platforms for expo?


Expedition Leader
I'm no expert on tacomas but don't expect a 4x4 V6 tacoma to get much better mileage than a 1st gen tundra...maybe a 2.7L...
I have a few friends pushing 19mpg in their 1st gen 4x4 tundras and my 4.0L 4x4 2005 tacoma with some stuff gets more like 16/17...BUT... my 2005 has been a GREAT truck so far...76K miles and nothing more than preventative maintenance and some tires...brakes are still at 50%...lots of bad stuff to read about the 2005 tacomas on TTORA (frame/motor mount/third member/leaf springs/maniford/etc...but mine keeps on ticking...) and it was really capable stock...
I am anxious to hear the results of this...maybe you should add a vote option for year...


So Im in the market for a new rig. ... so what kind of performance features would I gain buying a 08 rather than a 04 ? I currently have a 01 tundra v8, ext cab 2x4 that i like alot but not having a 4x4 really bothers me more than I thought it would after I bought it, but driving 40 min one way to work I figured hauling the extra lbs around would eat my wallet in gas. I like the larger bed room alot tho. I dont really see to many 1-2 gen tundras out there, so are they good platforms for expo?
I have an '02 xtra cab Tacoma, and I've looked into "upgrading" to a current gen Tacoma. I have a couple of problems with the newer ones. First, they're bigger. Yeah, not likely that they're going to get smaller, but I think I could deal with a slightly bigger truck if it meant that I got more of a payload capacity. Whoops, that's not the case. My '02 auto xtra cab 4x4 TRD has a payload of 1510 lbs according to the manual. The '08 version of my truck? 1370 lbs. So, I get a newer bigger more powerful truck and lose 140lbs of cargo carrying capacity? Gee, thanks Toyota (That's 3 full Wedco cans of fuel, or my fiance and all of her camping gear). The '05 Tundra Access Cab has a higher payload than the '02 Tacoma. By 5lbs. (1515lbs). The '05 Tundra Double Cab has a payload of 1635lbs, which is 125 lbs better than my truck. Talking Tacoma double cabs, the '02 DC has a payload of 1395lbs. I couldn't find payload numbers for an '08 Tacoma DC, but the '11 version has a payload of 1295lbs.

Keep in mind these are all payloads, not towing capacity. If you need towing capacity, the newer trucks have higher towing capacities than the older trucks. If you're not planning on hauling a trailer, my first recommendation would be an '04 or older Tacoma unless you need space more than payload or plan on towing regularly.

(Info for truck payloads other than mine taken from and

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02. No APPS failure potential, early cab style, solid drivetrain, no motor mount failure, etc. That said I'm happy with my 04' but have had to deal with failed throttle-body's before modifying them for a permanent fix.

Rather than tell you everything I love about my Tacoma, let me tell you what I don't love. From an article I'm working on about my Tacoma...

"Steering Rack: I've gone through 3 now, one of which had horrible play right out of the Toyota box, we didn't even get it installed before we were pulling it back off to swap with another Toyota re-manufactured unit. When I replaced the first rack I installed the Energy Suspension Poly Bushings and have swapped them to the subsequent racks. I'm adequately satisfied with the OEM new steering racks but I've been less than satisfied with the quality and longevity of the re-manufactured steering racks. I should note that on stock height trucks or lifted trucks seldom used off-road, the steering racks seemingly last indefinitely. However add a taller suspension thus increased tie rod angles combined with larger tires and heavy off-road use and they will likely need replacement every 30-50k miles. It should be noted they don't fail outright, rather they get sloppy and you'll note loose steering. So while they might get a bit loose they are not likely to leave you stranded or yield the truck un-driveable.

CV Shafts: Started clicking at turns at 90,000 miles, these were replaced by the dealership with OEM reman's under the 100k factory warranty. Clicking is gone but following the CV replacement I started dealing the leaking at the diff seals. Along with the steering rack issues, CV axle issues are directly proportional to the suspension lift, a necessary evil for my cases particularly since 90,000 miles and still working albeit 'clicky' is adequate for me, 55,000 of those miles were with the lift installed. While increased CV axle wear is common on lifted vehicles, more common is CV boot tearing or rips. Thankfully neither of which are prone to leave you stranded and will give you plenty of notice before needing attention.

CV/Diff Seals: My issues started when the dealer warrantied the CV shafts. Since this time I've had to replace the passenger side CV/diff seal on the passenger side a couple of times. The dealer warrantied their work the first two times but I decided to address it myself. I actually installed a second seal in the passenger differential tube, so far so good but they usually don't leak for ~10k miles. Its not a common issue and I've yet to run across a customer having similar issues on identical built Tacoma's. Jury is still out on why I was dealing with so many leaks.

Fan Blower Motor: The unit started squeaking fairly badly and subsequently failed. When I took it out I found it packed with dust, my guess is all those days running in the desert with the windows down finally did it in. Replaced with an OEM blower. The relatively low cost repair took only a few minutes, in hindsight I should have tried to swap the bearings on the blower but I was in a hurry to get out on a trip and didn't want to be annoyed by a squeaky blower motor.

Idler Pulley: Not sure if the abrupt angle of the super charger belt caused this to fail but it was howling pretty good and thus replaced with a new OEM pulley when the 90k service was performed. Low cost and easy to replace.

Clocking Spring: The clocking spring in my steering column failed, which then causes the cruise control to be non-operational. This could have been result of improper alignment when one of the racks was replaced but it failed quite some time after a rack replacement. Replaced with an OEM unit in a matter of minutes. The failure left my cruise control and drivers air bag inoperable. So while it was annoying and unsafe, it didn't affect the remaining operation of the truck."


Having had both generation Taco's, I prefer the 2nd gens. While they are larger and that is not favorable on many trails my mileage with the 4.0 was better than the 3.4, before and after lifts and tires, and the power was waaay better. I had an '05 DC It was far more comfortable, especially with a family. I loved that truck, I kick myself for selling it. And then my wife kicks me again.


My friend has a v6 standard, ext cab, with nothing but alittle larger tires and a camper shell and he gets around 16mpg. There's no way I could have that with the amount of driving I do. Like I have said before, I like the tundras cause the room and power. I know it has a longer wheel base and would suffer on trails compaired to the Taco. But day to day use I think I'd favor the Tundra. Keep it coming!!


If memory serves correctly the 1st Gen Access Cab Tundra and the 2005+ 4door shortbed Tacoma have very nearly the same wheelbase. The 2005-2006 Tundra Double Cab and the 2005+ Tacoma 4door longbed also have nearly the same wheelbase.
The newer Tacomas are only slightly narrower than the Access Cab Tundra which is itself slightly narrower than a Double Cab Tundra.
I thought I had the exact specs for each but can't seem to find them at the moment.
My Tundra is currently just over the 165,000 mile mark. Problem free, although I can tell the steering rack is a little sloppy and it does seep a bit. It is currently running all the original CV's, CV boots, tie-rod ends and ball joints. I can only assume they've lasted this long because I have less than 2" of lift on the truck. Not saying others would last as along, I may be just lucky.
Gas mileage runs anywhere from 14-19 MPG. Loaded freeway mileage is usually about 17.
What I don't like about the 1st Gen Tundra - Lack of aftermarket support. If you want to pick through a large variety of bumpers, sliders, and other ExPO style farkle you'll want to rethink a Tundra. If you don't mind the lack of choice, it's a fine and dandy ride.....


I have a 2002, so I may be biased... In my opinion, it's the "newest"-"old" truck they make. Which in my mind makes it the best. After 2002, they just started getting more and more complicated. I like the size of my truck, I think it fits my lifestyle perfectly. My only real complaint is that I don't get great gas mileage, maybe 15 in town and 18-19 on the highway.

I got it in late '06 w/30,500 miles, it now has 72K. At this rate it won't hit 150K for another 10 years. When I bought it I planned on never ever selling it. I am sticking to that plan. There is literally no foreseeable reason why I would ever sell it within the next 20 years.
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American Adventurist
2001 - 2002 Tacoma for all the same reasons stated so well in post #4. Also why I chose to perform a SAC. Now all I need to do is replace the 3RZ with a 1KD... :drool: sigh - in my dreams.


Expedition Leader
02 DC here

I have 165,000 and loving it. No problems not related to use...
I avg 17 mpg lifted with 235s and a bumper etc.
My buddy with a v6 ext cab, lifted and 33s gets 22mpg - I called BS, so he checked it with the GPS on a beach run.... he had no reason to lie, but still I liked the hard data, he does run the speed limit like a grandfather and I am a little faster!

I agree with Jim, I think his 4wd Tundra gets the same MPG as I do and better when I am fully loaded.... this really bummed me out!

But the 3.4 seems to be bullet proof like the 22re was... I am hoping since I want to see 300k at least!

I have owned my 2000 extra cab SR5 3.4, 5 speed since new purchased in October 1999. When new with no lift stock tires I consistantly got 22 MPG. At 65,000 miles I installed a 2 1/2 inch suspension lift, 3 inch body lift and BFG A/Ts 315/70/17. Currently @ 267,000 miles with the same lift and tire size I regulary get 17.6 MPG GPS verified. This truck has been BULLET proof. I am still using the stock clutch, steering rack, exhaust all witch will be replaced in the next 3-4 months. The bad about these trucks is the seats SUCK, the blower motor is a POS and the defroster never work well from the get go. I have always ran mobile 1 5W30, the timing belts, water pumps and fluids have been changed every 90,000 miles. If I would have maintanance records of a used rig and had less than 150,000 miles on it I would purchase it. I have used only Toyota factory parts except the GD blower motor and will only use them as they last.

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Agree with the 01-02 styling but hard to justify having a 2seater daily driver. I don't carry people alot but just the small interior room on the early tacomas is a big draw back for me. I wouldn't disagree about the tacomas being more capable than the tudras. Just trying to weigh out the pro an cons of each. If I bought a Tacoma could I personally justify the small bed, v6,small interior and not so comfy seats for the trails that I would only be able to do once every 2 months if I'm lucky? Or do I go with a early tundra that has better room and would fit my day to day life better as far as towing. But would drag the bumper on obstacles? more aftermarket for the tacomas but being a fabricator for a living I would make half of my trail gear myself