2nd vs. 3rd Gen Tacoma


New member
Hey gang,
Currently shopping for a replacement truck for my 05 Dodge 1500 (hemi).

I'm pretty set on picking up a tacoma as I like the way they ride, look, and I love the reliability of the brand, and don't need a full size truck anymore. I want something that gets better than the 12mpg of my current truck, but I'm not into full blown rock crawling. My wife and I typically spend a good part of the summer towing our teardrop around and I am an avid dirtbike and mtn. bike rider. We are also soon expecting our first child, so I am pretty firmly looking at the DCLB as I need something that will fit baby seats, and also something that I can put a dirtbike or two in the back of.

My biggest questions comes down to whether I should look at a 2nd or a 3rd gen truck. I've driven a 2017 TRD DCOR and was pretty unimpressed with the power delivery and how the transmission shifted (which seems to be a big complaint for most), but I LOVED how the truck rode, handled, and generally felt when driving. On the flip side, I've not yet driven a 2nd gen, but for a bit my wife and I were looking at 17' 4runners, which I think have the same engine/tranny combo as the 2nd gens, and we generally were quite pleased with the feel of the drivetrain.

So I guess I'm looking to hear what would make the experts (especially those that have had both trucks) pick one model vs. the other. What is the real world gas mileage difference between the two? Is the backseat (and baby seat) room the same between the two trucks? How does the 2nd gen feel vs. the 3rd gen drivetrain? Are there significant differences in reliability between the two? Anything that I am missing?

Thanks in advance, I look forward to hearing the responses.

p nut

No difference in MPG it seems. Room is same/similar. Rear facing baby seats will require the middle position and will be right up against (or past) the front seats.
The 2nd gen is a proven platform. Plenty of power, and if you get one of the last year models, very reliable. That's the route I'd go.
Having said that, though, a fullsize makes more sense given what you're doing. You've already got one, but as a family man myself, interior room is so precious when it comes to trips with kids. I understand the appeal of the Tacoma--looks, "bro" cred, etc. But I'd be hard pressed to get squished into a mid-size. Also given the fact that a DCLB is pretty close to the length of a full-size truck.


IMO there's a reason the 2nd gen trucks are holding their value against the 3rd gen. The 3.5L in the new trucks is car-derived and I felt it drove that way, like a car. I own a 2008 with the 4.0L and it drives more like a truck to me. It's got more pull down low but on the highway it's not going to feel as comfortable as the new truck. My truck is most happy about 70MPH honestly.

Now understand that I drive a stick shift and that makes a pretty significant difference. The new truck manual has better ratio spacing but they mated it to the wrong engine. So what I'm saying is take my assessment with a grain of salt if you're looking at automatics.

I do like the dash of the new truck better, other than the monster center screen (which is admittedly something I didn't like about the later 2nd gens either, the gizmos and techno-crap). Other than that the interior on the new truck is an improvement. I'm pretty indifferent about the stylized interior of the 2nd gen, just give me the gauges I need and don't bother with all the design 'touches'.


My 3rd gen 4wd DCSB has averaged about 21 mpg over 33,000 miles. Not sure if a 2nd gen would do that, though probably not much worse. I drove a few used 2nd gens and they were responsive, but not dramatically more torque/acceleration at low or mid rpm's than the 3rd gen 3.5. It's not like V8 vs V6 or diesel vs gas. And the 3.5 is smoother and quieter. Finally, Tacomas really hold their value so unless you want a 10 year old truck I think you're better off buying new. Two local dealers have 2nd gen DCSB's prominently displayed on their lots for $33K and $34K.


Buying a 2015 2nd gen is a much better idea than a new 3rd gen. The 3rd gen has a ton of problems, a weak engine, poor transmission and poor quality control from the factory. Don't pin your hopes on getting better fuel economy from either generation. They tend to drop to around 10-12mpg when towing. Depending on where you have the front seats at and the type of rear facing baby seat used they will fit behind the front seats and not just in the center. If you want to buy a new vehicle the 4Runner is a better choice by far than the Tacoma if you can live without a bed.


Teardrop trailer, motorbike, kid on the way....get a Tundra or F-150. A Tacoma can likely accomplish what you have in mind, but a full-size will do it better. Or look for a 2nd gen Tacoma, but those things haven't really depreciated a whole yet, so you might not find a low-mileage one for a good deal.

By all accounts, the new Tacoma seems to be reliable and well-constructed. The new engine is a bit of a step-backwards IMO; as others have noted it is a passenger-car derived engine and it is more focused on fuel economy than it is on torque delivery.


1st gen tundra DC....plenty of room for kiddo seats and tows way better than a Tacoma. Looks bigger but honestly is not that much larger than a 2nd or 3rd gen tacoma dclb. Only down side is no factory locker.


just picked up my 2017 dblc TRD off-road last week. Have put 965 miles on it . The mileage is pretty great 23.7 highway thus far...and yep that's with some hills . And around 19.2 around town. I'm 6'4" and pretty big shoulders, plenty of room and very comfortable. If your tall you would do well not to get a moonroof . Makes you feel great with the extra inchs above you !! With the stock suspension still on it :) ( not for long) it handles great and is very comfortable ! I went to a small Toyota store in Tahoe and bought for $200 over :) pretty good deal. with the stupid silly resale value on the Tacomas it would be pretty silly to not go new!!!


New member
Thanks for all of the info guys, lots of good stuff here.

The two guys who recommended I look at an F150 just drove about four hours of googling. Holy cow you can get a LOT more truck for your money if you are looking at an F150 vs. a Tacoma. I think I will go test drive both trucks head to head to see which I like better, but I do remember being super unimpressed with the 3.5l in the tacoma, and it sounds like the 2.7 ecoboost is a sweetheart of a motor.

Too bad you can't get the 2.7 in the tacoma chassis...best of both worlds


You can get a 2.7L 4 cylinder in the Tacoma, which is an absolutely bulletproof engine, gets good mileage, too. It's not going to be happy pulling a trailer, though. If I had to replace my Taco now it probably would be with a 4 cylinder new one.

The Ecoboost engines look great on paper but my worry is longevity of those turbos. You have to realize Toyota is a very conservative company, they build based on what has worked in the past. It's one of the reasons I stuck with Toyota, actually. I have a long personal history of reliability and they can be repaired to keep in service for a long time. Plus there's a strong aftermarket and generally a bias towards off highway use.


Adventure Time!
Consider a Tundra DC. They are offered with 38 gallon tank (great range), plenty of torque, bigger cabin space, proven drivetrain, towing ability, bed size (width). Fun fact: Tundra DC and Tacoma DCLB have the same turning circle. Tundra has the tightest turning of any full size. Only downside is fuel mileage. My Tundra stock was 16-17mpg. While my 2013 Tacoma stock averaged 18mpg. So can you live with very slightly less mpg for benefits?


New member
A built 2nd gens gas mileage isn't that great i get like 15 mpg highway. I recently threw 4:56 gears in and it actually likes the hills again. I bring this up bc the shop I brought it too really dislikes the 3rd gens power as soon as you add bigger tires. I personally haven't driven or owned a 3rd gen.


I have 6800 miles on my 2017 Tacoma, best mpg been 17.4 highway flat road, 15.6 to 16 city and that's driving very nicely, don't believe those 21 mph numbers ppl say. 15/17 is real numbers and that was the same with previous gen Tacoma.


New member
I have a 3rd Gen and have had a 2nd Gen (both TRD OR's). There is no question IMO that the 3rd Gen is the way to go.

3rd Gen advantages (based on my experience):

Seats are much more comfortable.
Gas mileage is 10% to 15% better.
Ride is much nicer and more planted feeling - especially on the freeway (higher speeds).
The interior on the 3rd Gen is so much nicer - 2nd Gen is way too dated, IMO.
Quieter interior.
More solid feeling tailgate - and did I mention it locks! No more hose-clamp work-around.
Power sliding rear window is very nice.
Wireless charging - very useful.
Bed light, also very useful.
Vehicle info center - tire pressure at each tire and other vehicle data.
Safety - Added length in front for off-set crash safety.
Higher strength steel for a stronger roof crush resistance - compared to the 2nd Gen's marginal rating (IIHS).
Totally subjective, but I think the 3rd Gen looks a lot better, too.

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