First Drive: 2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid Is a Radical Leap Forward—and a Spendy One


No automaker knows the value of keeping a good thing going quite like Toyota. Its mid-size pickup, the Tacoma, is the undisputed king of the segment, regularly outselling competitors from the likes of Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan at a rate of two- and sometimes three-to-one. Here in the States, the Tacoma’s best sales year came in 2021, when a seven-year-old truck sold more than 250,000 units. Last year, more than 230,000 left dealer lots. The closest competitor, Chevrolet’s Colorado, couldn’t even clear six figures in sales.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad side

However, even the kings occasionally need to freshen their approach. Last year, Toyota announced that a new generation of the Tacoma—only the fourth in the nameplate’s nearly 30-year history—was coming. With it would be an all-new platform, modern powertrains, and fresh styling inside and out.

Lovers of the Tacoma’s reliable-as-a-hammer ethos met the news with cautious optimism, myself included. Would complexity dull the ubiquitous mid-sizer’s charm? Would new tech enlighten the experience, or draw it closer to lesser trucks that were trying every which way to outsmart Toyota’s stalwart?

We joined Toyota in sunny San Diego to ascertain a few answers. The two-day event was shockingly busy, with wheel time in everything from the 2025 Camry and the Crown Signia SUV to the 2024 Land Cruiser and the Tacoma. We had maybe an hour in the Tacoma, so what you’ll read below is a collection of surface-level impressions. We’ll line up longer tests of Tacomas in the coming months, so if your question isn’t answered here, bear with us.

Specs: 2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid

  • Price: TRD Off-Road: $46,600 / $56,795 (Base/As-Tested), TRD Pro: $63,900 / $64,400 (Base/As-Tested), Trailhunter: $63,400 / $63,400 (Base/As-Tested)
  • Powertrain: Hybrid, 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four, eight-speed automatic transmission, 48-hp integrated electric motor, 1.87-kWh NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery
  • Horsepower: 326 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque: 465 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
  • Drivetrain: Selectable 4×4 with two-speed transfer case
  • Layout: Front-engine, four-door, 5-passenger body-on-frame mid-size pickup
  • EPA-estimated fuel economy (city/highway/combined): TRD Off-Road: 22/24/23, TRD Pro: 22/24/23, Trailhunter: 22/24/23 
  • Competitors: Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, Honda Ridgeline
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad badge

Before we dive in, let’s look at the big changes for the 2024 Tacoma, starting with two new powertrains: The first is a turbocharged, 2.4-liter inline-four that offers 228 or 278 hp and 243 or 317 lb-ft of torque, depending on what trim you spring for. The second, which Toyota calls i-Force Max, pairs the same engine with a hybrid system comprised of a 48-hp electric motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission and a 1.87-kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery. Total system output for the hybrid is 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. You can still get a manual transmission, but only on lower trims, and at the cost of a few ponies and lb-ft of torque.

Though certain lower trims still have leaf springs out back, most of the hotter variants of the Tacoma will now use a multilink setup with coil springs. All Tacomas will finally use disc brakes front and rear. There’s a new overlanding-focused trim called the Trailhunter, though the old apex predator, the TRD Pro, still remains. More on that one in a bit.

You cannot approach the new Tacoma without noticing the completely redesigned exterior. The newer model looks taller, more aggressive, and more athletic up and down the trim range. Toyota’s designers employed the usual tricks—complex surfacing, angular geometric corners, and menacing headlamps to craft something thoroughly of-the-times. I’m preferential to the simpler styling of the outgoing model but won’t argue with anyone who finds this one more appealing.

The newer Tacoma adds between three and four inches of height over the outgoing model, and although front-row headroom in the cab remains exactly the same according to spec sheets (39.7 inches, new and old), the newer cab feels friendlier for long-haul jaunts. Folks knocked the older Tacoma’s stout cab for the way it made you feel like you were sitting almost on the floor with your legs kicked out in front of you; the new cab remedies this sensation, though not entirely. The seating position now strikes a nice middle ground between being tucked into a bunker and perching atop a barstool.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad front three quarter

We scored about a half-hour behind the wheel of a TRD Off-Road on the highways and roads leading out to the ranch that served as home base for the event. Despite its fabled reliability, the older Taco’s drivetrain was a dog; passing required plenty of forethought and a stiff kick to drop multiple gears and summon the twist needed to sidestep slower traffic. The new hybrid combo in the truck we sampled required no such hesitation. Just point, squeeze, and let the electric motor and turbocharger build a wall of torque in short order.

That wall of torque also came in handy later in the day, when I got behind the wheel of the Tacoma TRD Pro on an off-road course that Toyota built to show off this trim’s new persona. In the previous generation, the TRD Pro felt caught between wanting to take the fight to the likes of the Chevy Colorado ZR2 with high-speed desert hijinks and playing the ultimate blank canvas for high-budget overland builds, which often plod along at slower speeds. Thanks to the debut of the Trailhunter trim, which is squarely aimed at the latter scenario, the TRD Pro can now focus on excelling at the former.

Trim-specific Fox internal-bypass shocks relish bombing over rough terrain at alarming speeds and soaking up jumps, both of which we had the chance to attempt. Shock absorbers on seatbacks might sound gimmicky, but the TRD Pro’s seats felt like they shielded my spine from enough of the battering undertaken by the rest of the truck to at least dispel the notion of false functionality.

On a particularly bumpy portion, you could see the truck’s hood shake violently, almost concerningly so. When I asked about this later, Sheldon Brown, the Tacoma’s chief engineer, noted that these were early-production trucks, and that a fix was already in the works for the hood. Make of that what you will.

The overlanding crowd will find a lot to like with the new Tacoma Trailhunter. An ARB co-developed lift kit with Old Man Emu shocks comes standard, as does a special steel rear bumper. (Note: The TRD Pro also gets the ARB bumper, but not these OME shocks.) The truck feels extra capable thanks to a standard electronic front sway-bar disconnect mechanism and an added 2 inches up front and 1.5 inches in back of ground clearance. All Trailhunters will be crew cabs (Toyota calls them Double Cabs), but notably, you can get a Trailhunter with either a five- or six-foot bed.

For kicks, I took a long-bed version through the crawling course that featured small rock gardens, plenty of tight turns, and obstacles that hoisted a wheel into the air. Despite the longer wheelbase, (145.1 inches vs. 131.9 inches), the Trailhunter made short work of every obstacle, no doubt aided by the many camera views offered as part of the MultiTerrain Monitor system that will come standard on this trim. The standard 33-inch tires and heaps of underbody armor, including trim-specific rock sliders that can support up to half the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating; in our case, as much as 6835 pounds), also helped.

The long and short of my time in the three versions mentioned above is this: The new Tacoma, specifically as a hybrid, finally boasts capability that feels on par with the competition. What’s more, Toyota’s engineers and product planners have really leaned into the various personalities that the truck’s owners project onto it. We’ll reserve comparisons between the hybrid and non-hybrid versions of the new truck until we’ve had a chance to drive the latter, but in a vacuum, the i-Force Max system feels well-suited for the next chapter of the Tacoma’s life.

That is, for folks who can stomach the prices. Holy moly, is this thing expensive. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road we took to the ranch rang in at $56,795. The Trailhunter in which we wriggled over the hillsides? That one will run you $63,400. The TRD Pro, meanwhile, commands $64,400.

Some additional context: Chevy’s Colorado ZR2, the truck at which the TRD Pro feels aimed, starts around $48K. A few options can kick it into the mid-50s, still well below the ask for a TRD Pro. Ford finally bestowed the Raptor ethos—the OG in this relatively new performance truck segment—upon the Ranger; that one starts around $58K, also less than the TRD Pro.

Lower-trim Tacomas can be had for sums in the high-$30K range or even the mid-$40K range. That hybrid TRD Off-Road starts at $46,600, but will clear $50K with relative ease. You’re not alone in wondering if some buyers might be better off just stepping up to a modestly optioned full-size pickup at those prices.

But when you talk to most prospective mid-size truck buyers, their first answer is almost always Tacoma. Often, there isn’t a second answer. Despite being older than its competitors, previous-generation Tacomas often commanded higher MSRPs, even when new. A glance at the used market shows that the “Toyota Tax” is alive and well in the mid-size space. Higher MSRPs haven’t prevented the Tacoma from handily outselling competitors before.

Perhaps Toyota is looking to the Tacoma to offset some of the untold sums that went into developing the TNGA-F platform that now underpins all its body-on-frame vehicles. Maybe it’s choosing to cash in on the Tacoma’s notoriety here at the start of chapter four. Whether or not the consumer will be willing to fork over this kind of scratch remains to be seen, but don’t be shocked if the new Tacoma picks up right near where the outgoing model left off, sales-wise. Even if it’s not for you, it’s no use denying that the 2024 Tacoma is anything other than a remarkable step forward.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid:

Pricing: TRD Off-Road: $46,600 / $56,795 (Base/As-Tested), TRD Pro: $63,900 / $64,400 (Base/As-Tested), Trailhunter: $63,400 / $63,400 (Base/As-Tested)

Highs: Hybrid drivetrain kicks out serious performance, improved seating position, trims that better focus on what many types of Tacoma fans want to do with their trucks

Lows: Lordy, does this thing get expensive, busy exterior styling.

Summary: Whether or not fans will agree with the commensurate price leaps remains to be seen, but at long last, the additional cost feels like it went into tangible aspects of the fourth-generation Tacoma.


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Final Parking Space: 1959 Borgward Isabella Coupé


    But will the frame rust in half?

    Have they fix the seating position,. These were horrible to sit in. I also have no need for a Hybrid as just more cost and upkeep that may never comeback in fuel savings.

    Just was never a Taco fan.

    Good points, but in case it was skimmed over, there was mention of the seating portion being addressed mid way through the article. The conclusion I took away is that it’s mostly fixed but not Goldilocks good.

    The frame rust was definitely an issue two generations prior, but not in the last one, I’d say that’s less relevant than comparing the last generation to the previous when it was new.

    I will be curious to see what power the non-hybrid option will bring. I think this is being marketed as less of a fuel saving measure and more of a way of bumping the power a bit. Think we’re starting to see hybrid technology work in our favor instead of making everything a glorified Prius.

    Hyperv6, you are always waxing about hybrids having increased upkeep costs. In any post that deals with that subject. It seems clear you have not owned one. I have owned a couple and through family and friends have feedback on many more. It must sound counterintuitive to you but my experience has been completely opposite of what you claim. Example 2010 Prius, 270,000 miles, oil every 10,000, spark plugs every 100,000, front brakes twice rear once, normal car battery twice, suspension components like any other car. That was it and consistent mileage of 42mpg and I live in hill country. Hybrids may be more complex, but increased maintenance is not my experience. Quite the opposite. I suggest you at least consider that perhaps your lack of experience with hybrids may color your perspective. Best of wishes and happy motoring.

    Toyota’s new strategy: set the pricing of their mid-size and full-size trucks as basically equivalent and see if they can get away with it.

    I just went to the site and priced a new Tundra SR5 TRD Off-road for $55K. They’re pricing this new gen Tacoma based on a reputation it hasn’t even had time to earn. And even if it had, the TRD Pro starting price being $16K MORE than a ZR2 is just wildly ridiculous, almost offensive. My 5 year old Tundra 4×4 (mid-level trim and options) was $41K new. Per another site, the new hybrid Tacoma STARTS at $47,795 in the TRD Sport trim. So in that time the mid-level mid-sizer is now significantly more expensive than my not-that-old full-sizer. You’ll never be able to convince me that this is all just innocently responding to inflation. It is greed.

    The price of the new Tacoma makes it nearly a complete no-go. You’d be foolish not to pay practically equivalent money and have a Tundra instead. The only true price separation starts happening in the extreme upper trim levels. For the lower and mid level trims, it is a wash.

    P.S. I’m still glad they, for the most part, fixed the seating position problem. At least you’re getting one clear upgrade (that can’t be remedied in the aftermarket) for all that extra scratch!

    The pricing of these doesn’t bode well for the pricing of the new 4Runner’s. Last gen TRD Pro 4Runner was $54k. If the new one has a base price of $64-65k, that’s basically the same cost as the Lexus GX550 and the new Land Cruiser. As much as I’d be interested in a Trailhunter 4Runner, I’m not at all inclined to buy one for $65-70k with options, plus tax and title.

    Buying one of these oversized monstrosities became so out of reach for most of us years ago, so really, does the price even matter anymore. Many of us are still begging for that affordable, basic, 2 seat, manual trans, roll up window, no frills reliable work truck. The old Tacoma’s, Ranger’s, Mazda’s, Frontier’s?

    Sometimes mid-size pickups are selected due to their size. The mid-size trucks are larger today than in the past, but they are still smaller than the new larger full-size models. A friend bought a new Colorado Z71 a few years ago simply because the Silverado would not fit in his garage.

    I own a 2012, V-6 4×4. If I stay out of the throttle it will average 20 – 22 MPG Hwy. & Bullet Proof. The trade off for hybrid isn’t worth it. I’m guessing a turbo 4 cylinder could exceed a hybrid.

    Wow, this thing is just too spendy. Might as well spend slightly more to get an SUV in the form of a Lexus GX.

    I would have been completely satisfied if they would have taken a Camry hybrid power train and put it in a simple basic Tacoma and priced it comparable the Camry hybrids, think they would sell as many as they could produce. Anybody not want to get 50+ mpg!

    I realize that I’m an outlier but as far as I’m concerned the Tacoma has not even looked like a truck since they stopped making the basic regular cab in 2015. I’m on my fourth Tacoma because I found a very low milage 2011.Ther is no way I would pay for this new one!

    You might not have known; The Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5Turbo will give better fuel mileage than any in this comparison including the hybrid without the hybrid complexity. And is priced many thousands of dollars less than all of these. I have owned the Tacoma and the Colorado and Ranger at some point. Each had problems. My opinion is that all the tested vehicles are overpriced and you do not get your moneys worth. I agree that if you can’t wait to spend big money on a truck, might as well move up to the 150’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *