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What’s the Best Toyota Tacoma You Can Get for $25,000?

Toyota Tacoma buyers have a lot to choose from on the used market. This statement shouldn’t come without warning though — you’ll likely be surprised at just how well these things hold their value, meaning that you may need to stretch your budget a bit to get the truck you really want. Here, we’ll outline the model years, powertrain and trim level buyers should look for at the $25,000 price point.

Year

The third generation Tacoma was introduced for the 2016 model year and represented the vehicle’s first full redesign since the 2005 model year. Brand-new 2018 base model Tacoma SRs start at right around $25,000, and offer a full factory warranty and all the satisfaction that comes with buying a brand new car. Still, the Tacoma SR is designed primarily for humble work truck duty and offers pretty weak feature content, not to mention an underpowered engine, so we can’t help but think that a slightly used 2016 or 2017 model of a higher trim level might be the better move. A used Tacoma SR5 is probably a good choice for buyers looking to snag a new-generation Tacoma for around $25,000. Right now there are over 500 2016 and 2017 Tacomas listed on Autotrader for $25,000 or less.

Buyers looking for a model with off-road features for $25,000 will have less to choose from, and will likely want to open up their search to cover the entire previous generation — from 2005 to 2015.

Something to keep in mind — Toyota settled a class-action lawsuit in 2016 regarding excessive frame rust on Tacomas form the 2005 to 2010 model years. As part of the settlement, Toyota was required to inspect and replace rusted frames if necessary. Verify whether this issue has been addressed if you’re looking at an example from these model years.

Powertrain

Entry-level Tacomas come with a rather lackluster 4-cylinder engine and 2-wheel drive. For this reason, we recommend looking for a V6 model. In 2016 and newer models, the V6 makes 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. Step back to a 2005–2015 model, and these figures drop to 236 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Most examples will come with an automatic transmission.

As the Tacoma is a utility vehicle, we can’t help but recommend a 4-wheel drive model, as 4-wheel traction will let you get the most out of your truck

Configuration/Trim Level/Mileage

If newness is a big priority and you opt to look for a 2016 or newer model, you’re likely limiting yourself to the entry-level SR and SR5 trim levels. This is great if all you’re looking for is basic, reliable transportation, but for creature comforts and off-road utility at this price point, you’ll have to look to a 2005–2015 model.

Buyers who want an adventure-oriented Tacoma should prioritize finding a TRD Off-Road model, which offers off-road niceties like a locking rear differential, upgraded suspension and more aggressive styling, among other things. As Tacomas hold their value rather well thanks to their inherent usefulness, finding a TRD Off-Road model for $25,000 means stepping back a few model years, and buyers likely need to consider all second-generation model years, from 2005 to 2015, in order to stay in that $25,000 range. Even then, TRD Off-Road models for under $25,000 aren’t as prevalent as one might think, but your patience is worth it. Right now on Autotrader there are only 34 Tacoma TRD-Off Road models listed for around $25,000 or less.

Conclusions

Buyers may be surprised when looking for a Toyota Tacoma for around $25,000. These trucks hold their value incredibly well, which means that finding a nicely-optioned used example will prove challenging. On the other hand, the vehicle won’t depreciate nearly as much as an alternative vehicle over the course of your ownership. On a similar note, thanks to the Tacoma’s reliability and dependability, buyers don’t need to worry as much about mileage when looking for a used Tacoma. In the end, there are really two routes a buyer can take when looking for a Tacoma for $25,000. If you’re just looking for a basic truck, a lower trim level 2016 or newer body style is likely the right move. If it’s off-road features you’re looking for, then a 2005–2015 model is in order.

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