Toyota's 245hp Six-Speed X-Runner High-Performance Sport Truck Highlights
All-New Tacoma Pickup Launch

Toyota's all-new '05 Tacoma pickup is larger, more maneuverable, more powerful, and more fuel-efficient than the compact truck it replaces. The halo truck of the Tacoma line is the X-Runner. This sport truck brings a modern street presence packed with sports car performance from a new 245hp V-6 engine and a specially tuned and lowered chassis.

The new truck steps up in stature with the regular cab 4x2 models on a 109.4-inch wheelbase, about 5.9 inches more than the last-gen Tacoma. Prerunner and 4x4 regular cab Tacomas sit on a 110-inch wheelbase; 4x2 Access Cab models ride on a 127.2-inch wheelbase (an increase of 5.3 inches); and the Access Cab Prerunner and 4x4 wheelbase is 127.8 inches. The Double Cab with the standard 5-foot bed shares the 127.8-inch wheelbase, and the new Double Cab longbed models ride on a 140.9-inch wheelbase. Front and rear track grew by nearly 4 inches, adding interior space and better handling.

The new Tacoma gets power from a 2.7L DOHC four-cylinder engine that produces 164 hp and 183 lb-ft of torque or a revised 4.0L VVT-i DOHC V-6 that produces 245 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque (replacing the 190hp 3.4L V-6 in the '04 models). Both feature a new Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence (ETCS-i) that helps improve performance and fuel economy. With the V-6, you get a choice of a six-speed manual (cool) or a five-speed automatic. The four-cylinder models offer a choice between a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota is claiming that a V-6 4x4 model with the five-speed automatic transmission can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7-1/2 seconds. We can't verify that yet, but we can tell you the V-6 six-speed X-Runner will get there in less than 7 seconds (dragstrip with good leave) and is one of the best-handling packages we've driven since the Dodge Ram SRT-10. Add the big brake option and you're ready, causing drivers of many high-priced sports cars to doubt their manliness as you out-brake them into the corner on the road course. If you like a quick sport truck with balanced handling and good ride but will also pull 0.9 g on the skid pad, get in line at your Toyota dealer. If you're not, not to worry, as the Tacoma comes in 18 model configurations based on three cab types: regular cab, Extended Access Cab (with new dual access doors and tumble flat rear seats), and the four-door Double Cab.

Trucks Grab 53.5% of Market
Trucks continue to take market share from cars. Consider this: Trucks had 40.4 percent of U.S. sales in 1994; in 1984, they had 27.3 percent; and in 1974, the haulers represented 21.9 percent of the market. Way back in 1964, trucks took only 11.6 percent of the U.S. market.

Just a reminder that the clock is ticking on the Sport Truck/JC Whitney Low-Buck Challenge. This edition of the challenge is sponsored by JC Whitney, so Low-Buck Challenge builders are competing for $1,500 in gift certificates in addition to the fame and notoriety of a full feature in Sport Truck magazine.

The Challenge
As with last year, we're giving you six months to build your interpretation of the coolest '98-or-older sport truck. This time, however, we've increased the budget to $6,000, not including the purchase price of your rig. After you build it and send us the photos and receipts, we'll determine the winners with a panel of sponsor judges. We'll judge your creation in terms of overall appearance as 60 percent of the score, quality of interior as 20 percent, and engine detail the remaining 20 percent. If we have a tie, the overall appearance will be the deciding factor.

The Rewards
Here's what you get if you build the most outrageous truck within our rules and win the Grand Prize. In addition to having your achievement captured in a full feature in Sport Truck magazine's print and online editions as well as on JC Whitney's Web site, JC Whitney will award a $1,000 JC Whitney gift certificate. For the Low-Buck builder that wins our First Prize, we'll feature your truck as described above and JC Whitney will award you a $500 JC Whitney gift certificate. We also have a Second Prize consisting of the same feature exposure as the Grand and First Prize winners as well as a $250 JC Whitney gift certificate.