2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade Review: Blacked Out Special Edition

The Toyota Tacoma may be one of the oldest midsize trucks on the market but that doesn’t seem to affect its appeal to consumers. It regularly sells in significant numbers and is currently one of the most popular vehicles in its class. Under the skin, the Tacoma is quite dated. Its body-on-frame platform dates back to the early 2000s when it first arrived and has seen numerous revisions to keep it modern. Toyota recently refreshed the Tacoma, giving it a new front fascia and an updated interior.

As before, the truck is available in several flavors including the off-road-oriented TRD models, the comfort-focused Limited, and mid-level models ranging from the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road to the SR5. There’s even a basic work truck with an access cab. Two bed lengths are available: a five- or six feet. However, the access cab version is only offered with the longer bed option while the TRD Pro is only available as a double cabin with a five-foot bed.

The Tacoma is available with two engine options: a standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder with 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque or a 3.5-liter V6 good for 278 hp and 265 lb-ft. Both come with a six-speed automatic transmission while the V6 is also offered with a six-speed manual on the three TRD models. Speaking of the TRD models, if you’re looking for the most capable Tacoma when driving off the beaten path, the TRD Pro is the one to get. That version gets TRD-tuned fox shocks, a TRD cat-back exhaust, and a TRD front skid plate.

Toyota recently added the Nightshade special edition model to the Tacoma and is one of the street-oriented versions of the truck. Based closely on the Limited trim, the Tacoma Nightshade gets black 18-inch alloy wheels, black wheel locks and lug nuts, black side mirror covers and fog light surround, a carbon black grille, black door handles, black exhaust tips, and black badges.

A recent refresh recently added a host of new tech features to the Tacoma. The Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) suite adds collision prevention technologies like front automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. You now have adaptive cruise control available on certain variants but it doesn’t come with a stop-and-go function like in newer Toyota models sporting TSS 2.0 or 2.5+. On the multimedia front, Toyota finally added a modern infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The latest updates to the Tacoma improved the quality of life for owners and prospective buyers. However, it’s still an old-school truck at heart so expect the driving experience to be as such. That means expect a slightly unsettled ride when the bed is empty and handling that’s a little ponderous. If you can deal with that and the odd driving position that’s even more awkward for tall people, the Tacoma remains a safe choice among midsize trucks.

0 to 60: 7.8 seconds
60 to 0: 140 feet
Handling: B-
Ride: B
Cabin Noise: B; 74 dB
Fuel Economy: A-

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