The Best & Worst Toyota Tacoma Years [Models]

It is with great pride that we have categorized the best and worst years of the Toyota Tacoma from its launch in 1995 until its release today.

To help you decide when to buy a Toyota Tacoma, I have analyzed all generations, revealing the best years to buy Tacomas and the worst years to steer clear of.

Best & Worst Toyota Tacoma Years [Models]

The chart below breaks down Toyota Tacoma’s yearly reliability scores, owner-reported issues, and recall history based on trusted sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and VehicleHistory.

In addition to year categorization, we offer detailed information on each Toyota Tacoma model, including powertrain options, technological capabilities, and safety features.

Come on, let’s get started!

Toyota Tacoma Generations

In 1995, Toyota Tacoma entered the competitive mid size truck market and established itself as a leader. The first generation was praised for its compact size, affordability, and ruggedness, which attracted casual drivers as well as enthusiasts.

Here is a list of all Toyota Tacoma generations beginning in 1995 to help you get a better understanding:

4th generation (N400)2024 to Present
3rd generation (N300)2016 to 2023
2nd generation (N220/N240/N250/N260/N270)2005 to 2015
1st generation (N140/N150/N160/N170/N190)1995 to 2004

The technology enhancements, design changes, or performance tweaks between generations can be significant, often determining whether a potential buyer will purchase a particular product.

Toyota Tacoma Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

Our ranking and categorization of the Toyota Tacoma’s best and worst years takes a holistic approach, taking into account many factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Reliability reports (surveys) from owners
  • Maintenance costs on an annual basis
  • Rating for safety
  • The reliability score of Consumer Reports
  • Owner satisfaction score according to Consumer Reports
  • Recalls, investigations, and complaints filed with the NHTSA
  • Owner ratings on Edmunds
  • Owner ratings from JD Power
  • Owner ratings from Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB)
  • Owner ratings on VehicleHistory
  • Owner ratings on

Below we’ve compiled all Toyota Tacoma model years and ranked them in order of best, neutral, and worst.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
4th generation (N400)2024N/AN/A
3rd generation (N300)2020 2021 2022 20232017 2018 20192016
2nd generation (N220/N240/N250/N260/N270)2013 2014 20152011 20122005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
1st generation (N140/N150/N160/N170/N190)2000 2001 2002 2003 20041997 1998 19991995 1996

It’s a term used to describe years that failed to stand out for either being remarkably reliable or notably problematic. They are a comfortable middle ground between the best and the worst years for the Toyota Tacoma.

It is important to understand that certain factors can negatively impact a vehicle’s reliability, such as NHTSA recalls. Consumers and experts tend to become less trusting of a car the more complaints and recalls it accumulates.

In this article, we’ll explore the best, neutral, and worst years for the Toyota Tacoma.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 4th Generation [2024 to Present]

In May 2023, Toyota will reveal the fourth-generation Tacoma, a combination of rugged appearances and cutting-edge technology.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 4th Generation [2024 to Present]

A Toyota Tacoma is built on TNGA-F global body-on-frame technology, the same platform underpinning the Toyota Tundra (XK70).

The Best Years: 2024

There are two engines to choose from for the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, the 2.4L T24A-FTS turbocharged I4 engine and the 2.4L T24A-FTS turbocharged I4 engine, depending on trim and transmission.

A hybrid version of the i-Force Max offers impressive power and torque, with 326 horsepower and 465 pounds-feet. Some trims are available with six-speed manual transmissions, but most engines mate with eight-speed automatic transmissions.

The company offers a wide range of trim options. There are six models carried over from the SR to the SR5, limited and TRD Pro, as well as the TRD Sport and Off-Road. Trailhunter, an overlanding-oriented trim, and the TRD PreRunner, a two-wheel-drive trim designed for off-roading, stand out among the additions.

This model features IsoDynamic seats, Fox Factory racing shocks, and a wider and taller design than the SR5. Old Man Emu suspension components make up the Trailhunter’s suspension, which is distinguished by its snorkel engine air intake and bronze accents. There is only one body type available for the TRD PreRunner, and it is the XtraCab body with rear-wheel drive.

As part of the advancements in the chassis, high-strength steel has been laser-welded for greater rigidity, while aluminum body panels have been used to reduce the weight of the vehicle.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 3rd Generation [2016 to 2023]

In 2016, Toyota began developing the third generation of its Tacoma pickup truck, bringing technological advancements and improvements to its interior quality and safety.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 3rd Generation [2016 to 2023]

You should avoid the 2016 Toyota Tacoma of the third generation, while 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 are the years when you should buy a third-generation Toyota Tacoma.

The Best Years: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

How reliable are the Tacomas from the most recent years? We conclude that Toyota Tacoma’s best years in the generation are 2020 to 2023 with its latest powertrain options, technological advancements, and safety features.

In addition to the 2.7L 2TR-FE I4, an impressive 3.5L 2GR-FKS V6 was also offered. As a result of the V6, drivers could get a maximum power output of 278 horsepower.

It was equipped with either an automatic 6-speed transmission or a manual RC62F transmission, delivering performance along with fuel efficiency.

It was standard to have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the advanced infotainment system.

The Safety Sense P suite, which includes adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, accentuated Toyota’s commitment to safety at all times.

It was during these years that Tacoma was able to demonstrate its engineering, safety, and consumer feedback capabilities.

The Neutral Years: 2017, 2018, 2019

The Toyota Tacoma delivered balanced performance from 2017 through 2019.

In addition to offering commendable engine options, these models were equipped with digital features such as touchscreen infotainment systems.

Additionally, the car incorporates blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts for safety.

In spite of this, challenges continued. The 2018 and 2019 models were recalled due to a damaged brake master cylinder seal, which could cause braking performance to be reduced.

While these Toyota Tacoma model years offered significant improvements and were far from problematic, the mentioned issues prevent them from being classified as the “best.”

The Worst Years: 2016

Despite the third-generation Tacoma’s debut year, there were engine, transmission, and electrical problems.

Which problems and recalls are associated with the 2016 Toyota Tacoma? The timing chain cover was reported to leak oil, the engine stalled, gears slipped, and the vehicle jerked excessively by many owners.

A number of recalls were addressed on the truck, including issues related to the crankshaft position sensor and oil leaks within the rear differential.

While the 2016 Toyota Tacoma has some advanced features and a redesigned exterior, I recommend avoiding this model year due to its recurring technical problems.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 2nd Generation [2005 to 2015]

In 2005, Toyota introduced the second generation of its Tacoma, improving upon its predecessor’s strengths while correcting previous issues.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 2nd Generation [2005 to 2015]

When it comes to the second generation Toyota Tacoma, 2005-2010 is a time you should avoid at all costs. A Toyota Tacoma of 2013-2015 is one of the best and most reliable vehicles ever made.

The Best Years: 2013, 2014, 2015

When is the best time to buy a Toyota Tacoma? The best Tacoma years of the second generation were undeniably 2013, 2014, and 2015. This is based on recalls, owner complaints, and average resale values.

It was available with either a 2.7L 2TR-FE I4 with 159 hp or a more powerful 4.0L 1GR-FE V6 with 236 hp. Fuel efficiency ranged from 17 miles per gallon (4.0L) to 23 miles per gallon (2.7L).

As well as the manual and automatic transmissions, these models also featured a 5-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed manual transmission, and a 4-speed automatic transmission.

There were several trim levels to choose from, each with its own set of advanced safety features, infotainment features, and creature comforts.

In the lineage of Tacoma, these years are one of the best due to a minimal number of recalls and improved build quality.

The Neutral Years: 2011, 2012

Tacomas from 2011 and 2012 were commended and criticized in equal measure.

The company continued to offer reliable performance and versatility based on its engine lineup from earlier years.

The user experience was enhanced by updating the audio system and making minor changes to the interior. As part of Toyota’s Star Safety System, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control were included.

It is important to note, however, that these years were not without their challenges. There was continued frame deterioration and the 2012 Toyota Tacoma experienced engine problems, specifically with the secondary air injection system, which was evident mostly by illumination of the “Check Engine” light.

It was necessary to recall the 2012 and 2013 models for brake actuator failures that could disable ABS and ESC.

There were also concerns about drivetrain vibrations. There is a balance between reliability and challenges in these years, as reflected in these mixed reviews.

The Worst Years: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

When did the Toyota Tacoma have its worst years? In the second generation of Toyota Tacomas, 2005 to 2010, there were a lot of issues, so it is best to avoid these models.

Toyota Tacoma models from 2005, 2006, and 2007 suffered from frame corrosion, leading to recalls and suspension and steering issues. Several recalls were necessary because of corrosion cracking leaf springs and stuck accelerator pedals.

As a result of corrosion, the 2007, 2008, and 2009 editions had transmission problems, including fractured driveshafts.

A recall was issued for heated seats and tire pressure monitoring on the 2010 Toyota Tacoma as a result of corrosion problems.

As a result, these years of the second-generation Tacoma have been the most challenging.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 1st Generation [1995 to 2004]

A successor to the Toyota Hilux, the Toyota Tacoma debuted in 1995 and has since grown to be one of the most recognizable trucks today. It combines Toyota’s reputation for durability with modern aesthetics and functionality.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Tacoma 1st Generation [1995 to 2004]

Since 1995 and 1996 are outdated and unreliable, it’s best to avoid them altogether because of their age and reliability issues.

The Best Years: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

The best years for first-generation Toyota Tacomas are undoubtedly 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 based on owner complaints, recall history, and affordability.

Toyota Tacoma models from 2000 to 2004 had 2.4L 2RZ-FE I4 engines delivering 142 hp, 2.7L 3RZ-FE I4s delivering 150 hp, and 3.4L 5VZ-FE V6s delivering 190 hp.

Depending on the engine, a 4-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission may be available. According to the 3.5L V6 variant, fuel economy averaged 17 city / 22 highway mpg.

Furthermore, the PreRunner trim level offered additional space, while the Xtra Cab trim level offered a longer roofline to complement its off-road capabilities.

There was also an option for anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution as well as other technological and safety enhancements.

While these advancements have been made, several owners still noticed frame corrosion, particularly in regions where salt is heavy.

The Neutral Years: 1997, 1998, 1999

In 1997, 1998, and 1999, the performance of the first-generation Tacoma was balanced.

There was an option for a 2.4L I4 and 3.4L V6 engine in these models. In terms of fuel consumption, the V6 model achieves 17 city/21 highway mpg.

Toyota Tacoma 4WD variants were available for enthusiasts seeking off-road capabilities, and SR5 trim levels were available for those seeking more interior amenities.

It is noteworthy that Toyota is introducing passenger-side airbags and improving side-impact protection in its vehicles.

Despite this, issues continued to exist. It has been reported that the subframe has corroded, the brakes perform inconsistently, and there are vibration problems.

The Worst Years: 1995, 1996

For the first-generation Toyota Tacoma, our research shows that 1995 and 1996 are the worst years when it comes to owner complaints and recalls.

Unfortunately, they experienced teething problems. It was primarily the suspension that was the problem – cracked lower ball joints and extensive corrosion made the vehicle quite unreliable.

A number of complaints about head gasket failures were filed against the 1996 Toyota Tacoma.

In addition to establishing the foundations for Tacoma, these models taught what needed to be improved in the area.

Common Toyota Tacoma Issues

It’s not always easy to determine whether a model year is right for you just because it has more problems than average. Before you decide to buy a new Tacoma, it is important to understand what the problem is and how serious it can be. 

Common Toyota Tacoma Issues

You can avoid some of the most common problems in the Toyota Tacoma years by following the tips below.

Not Shifting Correctly

Tacoma’s tendency to shift incorrectly is one of its biggest problems. If you suddenly find yourself driving a much more powerful vehicle or going into reverse, that can cause serious problems on the road. 

More recent models appear to have resolved this issue, which affected the 2016 and 2017 models. 

Sticky Accelerators

You may experience sticky accelerator problems if you drive on highways or on roads where unplanned acceleration is common. It is one of the most severe problems we have encountered due to the fact that that is pretty much all roads. 

It was fortunate that the accelerator issue was mostly resolved a long time ago, and it was most serious only for 2007 models. If you are thinking about buying a more recent or older Tacoma, it shouldn’t be an issue. 

Clear Coat Peeling And Cracking

A paint issue is usually a cosmetic rather than a functional problem, and this is true for this common Tacoma issue. The vehicle’s operation is typically not affected by peeling paint; however, you may want to consider getting the vehicle repainted if this occurs. 

There is an interesting aspect to this problem: the clear coat cracks or peels. Thus, any issues with the body panel underneath the paint may be hidden by the paint, which means that the color may be intact underneath. 

There is a possibility that this issue can turn into a functional problem instead of merely cosmetic. If you later decide to have your Tacoma repainted, the paint can obscure problems such as rust or other issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. 

Excessive Driving Vibration

Some situations can cause serious vibrations while driving, even if they don’t seem to be serious. Some Tacoma models suffer from driving vibration problems, and in some cases, the vibrations are severe enough to prevent the vehicle from being controlled. 

A major issue surrounding excessive vibration is that it can cause driver fatigue, especially if you’re driving for an extended period of time or over long distances.

Issues With Lower Ball Joint

There have been complaints from several Toyota Tacoma owners and forum users about prematurely worn lower ball joints. There have been many reports of customers experiencing this issue, including uneven tire wear, cabin vibrations, loose steering, and irregular noises. The lower ball joint of the Tacoma can disengage from the suspension if it fails, which may result in a loss of control.

The lower ball joint of the Tacoma models was found to be the cause of this particular issue between 1995 and 2007. In 2001 to 2004, Toyota recalled Tacoma models.

Faulty Air Flow Meter

A mass air flow or MAF issue is another common issue with Toyota Tacomas. If your Toyota Tacoma’s MAF is bad, you’ll see problems such as poor acceleration, loss of power, engine hesitations, misfires, and poor exhaust emissions. There is a tendency for dirt to accumulate on the MAF sensor of the Tacoma. It is likely that you need to get a new sensor if the problem persists after cleaning. Specifically, Tacomas built between 1996 and 2013 suffer from MAF problems.

The Best Toyota Tacoma Models To Buy Used

It’s always a challenge to purchase a used vehicle. You should always look for a car that has a solid maintenance record, has not been in any significant accidents or other reasons; it will be in less than ideal condition. However, there are some used Toyota Tacomas that are better performers than others. Here are some to consider if you’re looking for a used Tacoma. 

If you don’t mind a little home maintenance, the first-generation Tacoma model years 1994-2005 are all very good options. Due to their durability and hardworking nature, these trucks are still an excellent choice for consumers today. 

There are two reasonably priced options for the second-generation Tacoma in 2010 and 2008. There are a few more issues with the second-generation Tacoma than with other models on average. In spite of this, these two have fewer problems reported than other models at the same time and have good performance ratings. 

In terms of the most recent model of Tacoma, the 2018 and 2019 models both offer great value as used vehicles as well as modern features and design.

The Best & Worst Toyota Sienna Years [Models]
The Best & Worst Toyota Tundra Years [Models]
The Best & Worst Toyota Highlander Years [Models]
Best & Worst Toyota RAV4 Years (Problems To Avoid)
Best & Worst Toyota Camry Years [Models]
Best & Worst Toyota Corolla Years 1998 To Present

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which Toyota Tacoma model years have the most reported problems?

It was found that 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, and 2017 were the Toyota Tacoma model years with the most issues.
 The most problematic models of the Toyota Tacoma have been in production nearly continuously since 1995, so the overall performance has been relatively stable.

What are some of the most common issues reported in the problematic Toyota Tacoma years?

Toyota Tacoma owners report incorrect shifting, sticky accelerators, peeling and cracking paint, excessive driving vibration, premature lower ball joint wear, and faulty mass air flow sensors as the most common problems to avoid.

Are any older Toyota Tacoma models considered reliable and worth buying?

It is recommended for buyers to consider older Toyota Tacoma models that are known for their reliability. Models from 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2003 fall into this category. Although older Tacomas lack some of the modern conveniences and fuel efficiency of newer models, they are known for their durability and ease of maintenance.

How severe is the issue of incorrect shifting in some Toyota Tacoma models?

A Tacoma can suffer from incorrect shifting, especially if it shifts into reverse at an unexpected time or if unexpected power is provided. The 2016 and 2017 models were most affected by this issue, but more recent models appear to have resolved it.


As we explore the extensive history of the Toyota Tacoma, we find that the 2013-2015 and 2020-2023 models are the best Tacoma models for reliability and features, which makes them ideal choices for prospective buyers.

How would you rank the best Toyota Tacoma years based on what we found in our analysis?

We would love to hear what you think in the comments below!

Leave a Comment