Robert Horry—known to some as Big Shot Rob—has seven NBA Championship rings on his fingers. That’s more than any modern-era basketball player. The ex-Rockets, ex-Suns, ex-Lakers, ex-Spurs forward was certainly a talented athlete noted for his clutch shooting during the playoffs, but he also happened to be at the right place at the right time for those seven championships.
The 2018 Toyota Tacoma is the Robert Horry of the mid-size pickup world. It’s a popular pickup —for many good reasons—but it too benefits from being at the right place at the right time. It stuck it out as consumers shifted away from and back toward medium-duty haulers over the last decade, while other automakers gave up on the market and then got back in.
MORE: Read our full review of the 2018 Toyota Tacoma
A closer evaluation reveals some nagging faults, however.
In Limited trim, the 2018 Tacoma mixes some luxury-like features but doesn’t disguise the fact that it’s a dated design up against the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Even those trucks don’t move the bar very far, but they feel more modern and offer some features not available on the Tacoma.
I spent a little over a week making excuses to go to Home Depot in a 2018 Tacoma Limited 4×4. Here’s where it hits and where it missed:
Hit: Safety in spades. The Tacoma has one ace up its sleeve you won’t find in its competitors: a comprehensive suite of safety gear that includes forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Every version of the 2018 Tacoma—even the low-rider rear-drive base model that’s here to clean your pool—comes standard with those features plus lane-departure warnings and automatic high-beam headlights.
Miss: So many missing features. Active-safety tech is the Tacoma’s killer app. Otherwise, it’s rather spartan. My Limited tester stickered for about $41,000 but lacked a height-adjustable driver’s seat, full-time four-wheel drive, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, remote start, and its keyless entry only has sensors on the driver’s door handle.
Hit: Fuel economy. Even in mostly urban driving, the Tacoma averaged a hair over 20 mpg. That’s on par with the EPA’s 18 mpg city, 22 highway, 20 combined figure and it beat my expectations since most of my driving was in town. Credit here goes to a 6-speed automatic transmission that, for better or worse, rapidly shifts into higher gear.
Miss: An interior that’s way off the mark. From the legs-out driving position created by its high floor/low roof design to interior materials akin to what Toyota fits to its Corolla compact sedan, the Tacoma strikes out inside. Its dash design is attractive enough, but that’s about where the praise stops.
Hit: Refinement. Cheap trimmings aside, the Tacoma feels utterly Toyota in its tight panel gaps, snick-snick switchgear engagement, and the all-of-one-piece way it takes big bumps.
I didn’t have the opportunity to take the Tacoma Limited off-road, but that didn’t feel like this trim level’s intention. Tacomas in TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro flavors are veritable hiking boots, but the Limited is as dressy as a pair of discount store Weejuns.
The Tacoma does what it’s expected to do and its safety gear and typical Toyota sturdiness make it a compelling enough choice on its own, yet it ultimately feels like a truck designed by a company complacent about its spot in the market.
We hope Toyota does more to move the game forward than simply standing by the next go-around. At least Robert Horry made some clutch shots to get all those rings.
2018 Toyota Tacoma Limited 4×4
Base price: $24,730
Price as tested: $41,473
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic, part-time four-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 18/22/20 mpg
The hits: Solid feel, great active-safety gear.
The misses: Uncomfortable cabin, missing some key features.