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Modern History Lesson: The Toyota Tacoma X-Runner

Although Toyota isn’t usually the first brand that comes to mind when you’re considering enthusiast cars, Toyota has had its share of special and fun vehicles over the years. Even the current Camry has a V6 with over 300 horsepower — so how boring could that possibly be? Let’s also not forget that Toyota is the company that made a car, which, with some overnight parts (because parts delivered slower are clearly inferior), can beat a car that you can’t possibly afford, pal. Then you have the MR2, the MR-S, the Scion FR-S, the old GT-86 and the Celica — and for the knobby tired crowd, you also have the venerable Land Cruisers (new and old), FJ Cruisers and 4Runners.

Based on the above, the world of cool Toyotas seem as if they are clearly defined in the realms of sports cars or off-road cars. Have you ever wondered what would happen if one engineer from each side ends up getting into the tequila a little too hard? Well, wonder no more. What you get is called the Toyota Tacoma X-Runner, and it was a performance pickup truck available for public consumption from 2005 until 2013!

Power for the X-Runner came from the same 4.0-liter V6 that was available in the rest of the Tacoma lineup, putting out the same 236 horsepower and 266lb-ft of torque — but that’s about where the similarities end. Instead of the normal 5-speed transmission, a shorter throw 6-speed Aisin transmission was substituted, and was only allowed to send the power to the rear wheels. To keep traction in check, a limited slip rear differential was installed — and because of the added forward gear and closer ratios, the final drive ratio was changed from 3.73:1 to 3.15:1.

Toyota Tacoma XRunner interior

Since power output wasn’t changed, Toyota instead put effort into improving the handling. There’s a double wishbone suspension up front, a stabilizer bar added to the rear and Bilstein shocks all around. Then Toyota went about adding bracing to help stiffen the whole structure, and some 18-in wheels with some sticky, low profile tires. All of this added up to a driving experience that, at least according to all of the reviews I’ve read, would put a surprising number of cars to shame. It would supposedly hit 60 mph in about seven seconds, and keep up with a Cadillac XLR in the slalom and braking tests. Not bad for a pickup truck.

On the outside, a full body kit was added, as well as a hood scoop. Color options were pretty limited. As the saying goes — you can have your X-Runner in any color you want, as long as it’s black. Or red. Or blue. But that’s it.

Toyota Tacoma XRunner exterior

Options included a big brake kit developed by Stoptech, which gave you larger front discs (the rears, it seems, retained their drum brake setup). Also available from the TRD catalog was a dealer-installed, factory-warranty-retaining supercharger that bumped your sports truck from 236 hp to 304 hp. I don’t know what it takes to install it, but, according to the TRD website, that gain of nearly 70 horses can be had for $580 plus the installation — not a bad deal. While a 7-second 0-to-60 mph time is respectable for a pickup truck world, when it goes up against the Lightnings and SRT-10s of the world, that extra boost would be a, ummm, boost.

So there you go. Yes, the same company that makes the ubiquitous Corolla and Camry also turned a pickup truck into a sports car … and then managed to sell them for like nine years! What a world we live in! Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale

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  1. All manual V6 Tacomas of that generation had a six speed. The REAL impressive Tacomas from this generation were the “front wheel drive” ones sold by my pretty but clueless coworker. 

    • Dang it!  Someone lied to me!

      Well…I mean, “front” and “four” both start with “f”, so they’re essentially the same thing.

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