Last year, we took a group of new trucks to the Sport Truck test facility and put them through the proverbial ringer. We flogged a group of four trucks to see which one deserved the coveted Sport Truck of the Year crown. The Toyota Tacoma X-Runner prevailed as the winner, just edging out Dodge's SRT-10 (see sidebar for performance numbers), not an easy task against that kind of competition. With a little sweet-talking and a lot of reassurance that we wouldn't cut the truck to pieces, Toyota decided to loan us one for a year. We took shipment of this fine Radiant Red X-Runner a couple of weeks ago and still are nothing but impressed with the truck's performance.

Let's get into some specifics of this truck and what makes it so nice to drive. Toyota upscaled the Tacoma into the midsize class to compete with trucks like the Dakota and gave it a whole new powertrain to do just that. The driving force in the X is a 240hp 4.0L V-6 that features 24-valve DOHC configuration. To keep that power on tap and ready for use, Toyota backed the motor with a close ratio six-speed manual transmission and a 3.15 rearend. This new driveline is stuffed in an all-new frame design that has an extra crossbrace-hence the name X-Runner-to produce a flat-handling truck. With a solid frame base, the suspension system in this truck really shines, thanks to the front and rear sway bars, specifically tuned Bilstein shocks, and rack-and-pinion steering. If we have any complaints about the truck, and they are minor, they would have to be the shifter and the clutch. Both of these components have a very soft feel and don't give you the positive response the rest of the truck provides.

We are going to be racking up the miles on this sucker and reporting back to you each month on the mileage and any bolt-on modifications we might make. This month, we decided to add a few things to the truck to keep it looking new as long as possible. Check out the subsections of this story to see exactly what we did, and remember to check back next month and see where the X has taken us.

Base Price: $23,110

Price as Tested: N/A

Vehicle Type: midsize Access Cab pickup

Construction: body-on fully boxed, all-steel (F-Alpha frame, based on the Nissan Titan), rear drive

Engine: 4.0L DOHC EFI V-6, 24-valve aluminum block with aluminum alloy head with VVT-I; 3,956 cc; CR: 10.0:1

Horsepower: 245 hp at 5,200 rpm

Torque: 282 lb-ft at 3,800 rpm

Fuel: 91 octane unleaded

Transmission: six-speed manual Overdrive

Suspension: F: coil spring independent double-wishbone with gas-filled shock absorbers; front stabilizer bar diameter: 1.18 in; R: leaf-spring rigid suspension; rear stabilizer bar diameter: 0.98 in (X-Runner only)

Steering: power-assisted rack-and-pinion; ratio: 17.4:1; lock to lock: 3.43 turns

Wheel: 18-inch alloy

Tire F/R: P255/45R18

Brakes: power-assisted disc/drum four-wheel antilock braking system (ABS) with brake assist (BA) and electronic braking distribution (EBD); F: 12.56-inch disc. R: 10-inch drum

Wheelbase (in): 127.2

Length/width/height (in): 208.1/74.0/65.2

Track (in): F: 62.2 R: 62.2

Turning Circle (curb to curb): 42 ft

Curb Weight (lb): est: 3,690

Tow Rating (lb): 3,500

EPA city/hwy/combined mpg: 16/21/N/A

Fuel-Tank Capacity/range: 21 gal/N/A