Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Toyota Tacoma: Review Notes

|Includes: Alphabet, Inc. Cl A (GOOGL)

I drove the Toyota's "midsize" pickup truck, the Tacoma, for a few days. It was a Limited (loaded) 4x4 version, double cab. Approximately $40,000 MSRP.

It competes primarily with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, both of whom were made available starting in late 2014. There is also the Nissan Frontier.

Here is how the US sales stats for calendar year 2015 stack up:

Toyota Tacoma: 179,562, up 15.4% from 2014

Nissan Frontier: 62,817, down 15.5% from 2014

GMC Canyon: 30,077, up 880% from 2014

Chevrolet Colorado: 84,430, up 955% from 2014

Basically, the Toyota Tacoma significantly out-sold the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado combined, in the US in 2015. It basically sold as many units as its three major competitors combined. As you can tell, I have disregarded the Honda Ridgeline in this particular comparison.

The Tacoma looks good. It's not so much "macho" as it is "sport" which some people will like, and others won't. I think the GMC Canyon is the best-looking of the bunch.

I drove the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado a year earlier, and I found two advantages of the Toyota Tacoma over those two. First, the Tacoma has a push-button start. Second, the Tacoma has a hand brake, instead of a foot parking brake.

Unfortunately for Toyota, that's where its advantages and positives end.

Just getting into the cab poses an unusual challenge, especially for a truck. The distance from the seat to the ceiling is so low, that I have to bend my head to get in. Once in the seat, one notices that the distance between the steering wheel and the pedals is too short. This makes for a bad seating position. It reminds me a little about the 2005-2009 Prius, and in the worst way.

What's even worse is that in this seating position, my head rests against the ceiling and the B-pillar. Ouch. Maybe if this had been in a mini-car… but this is a truck! I can't think of any car in the last couple of year, where this has happened to me.

The seat materials and other appointments are not particularly good. Perhaps better than trucks of yore, but this thing has nothing on the new Ford F-150, for example -- or for that matter the Nissan Titan XD or the GM or RAM trucks. The seat is passable, but not more. Heated steering wheel? No. Cooled seats? No.

In Toyota fashion, the instrument controls are easy to use, but the infotainment system has a shiny cover that reflects into my eyes, painfully. The volume and tuning knobs are hard to see in the dark, and it's easy to touch something on the screen while trying to tune them. The knobs are too small in two ways: Too small diameter, and they don't protrude enough.

The cup holders have a shiny trim piece around them that reflect sunlight into my eyes in a most nasty way. While we're on the subject of reflecting nasty sunlight, this is the first time I remember in any vehicle, that the hood over the engine bay also reflects into my eyes.

Turning on the engine for the first time, I thought someone had played a joke on me. The sound was so loud and nasty, together with massive vibrations all the way to the steering wheel and pedals, that I thought it was a military vehicle from the 1960s. I cannot remember a more un-smooth vehicle I've tested in years.

The engine really sounds like a diesel -- and I don't mean that in a good way. It's loud, metallic, and vibrates like a 1920s airplane. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Simply speaking, this may be the least refined drive experience I have had in testing 250+ cars over the last 3+ years. With the exceptions of foot-vs-hand brake and pushbutton start, the GM midsize pickup trucks run circles around this Toyota Tacoma.

Rubbing it in, the GM trucks also have these five things:

-- Android Auto

-- Apple CarPlay

-- 4G LTE

-- WiFi hotspot

-- OnStar

The GM midsize trucks handle better, steer better, have a far less worse gasoline V6 engine, and they have better seating position. They are also available as a diesel, something the Toyota Tacoma does not offer.

I understand that the Tacoma has a superb quality reputation, and that's a most important trait, to be sure. It had better continue to have a superior such going forward, for the truck is simply not even close as good as the GM midsize trucks.

Fuel economy is rated at 17 MPG city, 23 MPG highway, and that's what I got too.

Disclosure: I am/we are long GOOGL.

Additional disclosure: At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author was long GOOGL. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends press conferences, new vehicle launches and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers. Toyota hosted a factory visit, and provided the vehicle for review.