Toyota Motor is counting on the fourth generation of its Tacoma truck, including a new “Trailhunter” model, to help maintain its leadership in the growing U.S. midsize pickup market.
The Tacoma has led the midsize pickup segment in sales for nearly 20 years, as competitors such as Ford, Jeep and Chevrolet have come, gone and returned to the segment. Midsize pickup trucks represented 4.4% of total U.S. vehicle sales in 2022, according to auto research firm Edmunds.
“[Tacoma] is the No. 1 selling vehicle in the segment … our intention is for that to remain,” Joseph Moses, Toyota North America general manager of trucks and SUVs, told CNBC. “We really believe we’ve got that in place with this new model.”
Toyota has commanded a roughly 40% share of the American midsize pickup truck segment since 2019 when Ford Motor and Jeep reentered market, according to Edmunds. That’s down from a more than 60% market share a decade ago — despite Tacoma sales that surged roughly 150% since then — as rival automakers have released new trucks.
Trailing Toyota is General Motors, which sells the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Edmunds reports the Detroit automaker’s share of the U.S. midsize pickup segment last year was about 19%, followed by Stellantis‘ Jeep Gladiator at 12.8% and the Nissan Frontier at 12.5%
The 2024 Tacoma, which Toyota revealed early Friday, features new exterior and interior designs in addition to upgraded safety, convenience and performance technologies. It will offer two turbocharged 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine options, including a “i-FORCE MAX” hybrid model that produces 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.
The Tacoma unveiling comes after Ford showcased its new Ranger for the U.S. market and GM releases its next-gen Colorado and Canyon models. All those trucks feature pricier off-road or performance models.
The new Tacoma “Trailhunter” model is a rugged-looking truck targeted at enthusiasts of overlanding — a combination of off-roading and camping that can use the bed or top of the vehicle to sleep. The Japanese automaker partnered with Australian-based overlanding company ARB to outfit the vehicle.
Automakers have been expanding their off-road vehicle offerings as a way to boost profits on their trucks and SUVs with far less investment than a new vehicle. Toyota also offers “TRD” models that include off-road capabilities or aesthetics.
Unlike several of its competitors, Toyota will continue to produce a two-door version of the Tacoma and offer two different bed lengths. Most competitors have shifted to offering only four-door midsize pickups with one bed option to reduce complexity. Toyota also is offering the truck with a manual transmission — a rarity in today’s automotive industry.
Tacoma is available in SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter. Moses said it’s part of the automaker’s “a Tacoma for everyone” strategy.
“Because we sell so many, we really tried to have that broad diversified mix — at the lower end for those that just need a truck to get going all the way up to the high end for those that really want to do some fun stuff with it,” Moses said.
Pricing for the 2024 Tacoma will be announced closer to the vehicle arriving at U.S. dealerships later this year. Current starting prices range from about $28,250 to nearly $48,000, depending on the model. The average transaction price for the Tacoma is about $41,000, according to Moses.