Small Toyota Truck – What Is It Called? [Plus History]

Since the introduction of Toyota’s first pickup truck in the United States in 1968, small Toyota trucks have undergone significant changes. They’ve been a pioneer in developing innovative small pickup trucks ever since. In this article, I’ll go over the different small Toyota trucks and their features.

What is the small Toyota truck? Toyota Hilux trucks are small Toyota trucks sold all over the world. In the United States, this small truck was succeeded by the Toyota Tacoma. These trucks are categorized as compact trucks or mid-sized trucks, depending on their size.

Read on to know more about small Toyota trucks, including their features and specifications.

small toyota truck

Small Toyota Trucks

Toyota has been selling small pickup trucks and other vehicles to consumers in the United States since 1968. In 1969, it began selling the Hilux truck and its several variants. Over the years, this small truck has received numerous upgrades and modifications to make it more comfortable, stylish, and functional.

The Toyota Tacoma is the Japanese automaker’s most recent compact and mid-size truck offering in the United States. It is ranked number 5 on the coveted list of the country’s best small trucks for 2020. This compact truck is a worthy successor to Toyota’s small trucks from 30 years ago in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at the Toyota Tacoma.

Small Toyota Truck in the U.S. – Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma is regarded as a mid-size truck in modern terms. Previously, this category of trucks was referred to as “compact-sized trucks.” It can handle heavy work even though it isn’t as big as a real truck.


The Tacoma is powered by a 3.5-L V6 direct-injection engine. High-performance meets high-tech in this truck. This engine is the ideal combination of power and efficiency. It will give you more of anything you desire.

Towing and Payload

The Tacoma will be able to meet your needs in terms of payload and towing. When pulling boats or delivering lots of cargo, this truck will make it possible for you to do so. With this vehicle, you can tow up to 6,800 pounds. This truck’s bed can hold up to 1,440 pounds of payload. Simply hook it up, secure it, and roll out to begin your ultimate adventure.

Additionally, since the Tacoma is equipped with trailer-sway control, your trailer will not sway back and forth on the highway. This TSC function provides braking pressure to all four wheels at the same time. The TSC is built to manage engine torque and provide complete control over trailer movements.

Tacoma Off-roading

Tacoma’s off-road capabilities are where it really shines. Because of the crawl control feature on this vehicle, you won’t get stuck in the sand or other rough terrains. The TRD trims come with this standard feature. On low-speed settings, this system regulates the brakes and throttle to keep you moving.

TRD Off-Road

On the TRD Off-Road, the Tacoma sports an electronically locking rear differential. This feature allows the engine’s power to be evenly distributed to the two rear wheels. In low-traction situations, the wheels can move at the same speed and provide more grip.

Multi-terrain Select

Because of the Tacoma’s Multi-terrain Select feature, you can take on the challenge of different terrains. You can choose from five different settings in this MTS. This system regulates the spin of the wheel through automatic traction and engine throttle adjustments.

Multi-terrain Monitor

The Multi-terrain Monitor is also available on the Tacoma. This feature allows you to scan your immediate surroundings for potential hazards. Simply push a button, and the 8-inch navigation screen will show you the surroundings from the back, side, and front.

Hill Start Assist Control

A hill assist feature is common among decent 4x4s. The Hill Start Assist Control is standard on the Toyota Tacoma. So, when you move your feet from the brake to the gas pedal, this feature will reduce the vehicle’s rolling back. Using this feature will make moving uphill a lot easier.

small toyota pickup trucks

Bilstein Shocks

All four-wheel-drive vehicles should have dependable shock absorbers, which the Tacoma has. Its Bilstein Shocks deliver reliable performance, particularly in tough terrains. These shocks’ high-performance components and tuned valves are specifically built for off-road use.

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

The Tacoma isn’t far behind its closest competitors in terms of technical features. The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is an excellent technological feature of this truck. It allows you to drive the Tacoma at a predetermined speed between 25 and 110 mph. This truck also has Apple CarPlay, which allows you to get directions, make phone calls, send and receive messages, and listen to your favorite music while driving.

Star Safety System

Last but not least is the safety feature on the Tacoma. It is equipped with the Star Safety System, which is an advanced integrated system of safety technologies. The following safety features are included:

  • Brake Assist
  • Anti-lock Brake System
  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution
  • Smart Stop Technology
  • Traction Control
  • Vehicle Stability Control

The following are the dimensions of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma base model:

  • Width – 74.4 in.
  • Height – 70.6 in.
  • Wheelbase – 127.4 in.
  • Overall Length – 212.3 inches

The Tacoma SR5 has somewhat different dimensions than the base model, and they are as follows:

  • Width – 74.4 in.
  • Height – 70.6 in.
  • Wheelbase – 140.6 in.
  • Overall Length – 225.5 inches

The dimensions of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road are as follows:

  • Width – 75.2 in.
  • Height – 70.6 in.
  • Wheelbase – 127.4 in.
  • Overall Length – 212.3 inches

Other variants are nearly identical in dimensions, with minor changes in their wheelbase and overall length.

Earlier Toyota Truck Models

Toyota sold its 1st car in the United States roughly 60 years ago. In 1969, the first generation Hilux pickup trucks were sold in this country. It was only in 1995 that the Tacoma was introduced. Since then, these small Toyota trucks have received several design enhancements, safety upgrades, and engine modifications.

Here’s a rundown of the Toyota pickup trucks as they advanced through their journey, which began in 1968-1969:

1969 to 1972 – First Generation Toyota Hilux

The Toyota Hilux was the first small Toyota truck introduced in the United States. It was equipped with a 1.9-liter engine capable of producing 84 horsepower. This vehicle had a short wheelbase and was only available with a four-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive.

1973 to 1974 – Second Generation Toyota Hilux

The Hilux Toyota small truck’s second generation had a longer truck bed. At 2.0 liters, the engine was slightly bigger than the previous generation. It had 109 horsepower mated to the same 4-speed manual transmission as the previous generation.

1975 to 1978 – Third Generation Toyota Truck

This truck had a new look. It was also larger and had a more powerful engine than previous models. This truck had a somewhat larger 2.2-liter engine, although it could only produce 97 horsepower. Its power delivery was restricted by its larger body structure and heavier engine.

1979 to 1983 – Fourth Generation Toyota Truck

Toyota did not begin offering trucks with four-wheel drives until 1979. However, all Toyota trucks at that time had 2.0-liter engines. There were no trucks with smaller engines than them. In 1979, Toyota launched the L Series with diesel engines to the 2WD models. Toyota 4WD trucks with diesel engines were first introduced in 1983.

1984 to 1988 – Fifth Generation Toyota Truck

small pickup trucks from toyota

A 2.4-liter engine was used in this generation. A new 2.4-liter fuel-injected engine with 105 horsepower is available in some trucks. In the next truck generation, Toyota even made more changes. The Xtracab, a two-row extended cab option, was one of the changes.

1989 to 1994 – Sixth Generation Toyota Truck

The next generation of Toyota trucks was redesigned once more. It had a 3.0-liter V-6 engine and a longer wheelbase. It was done in order to keep up with Nissan, which had already begun offering V-6 trucks. In 1989, the Tacoma was awarded by Motor Trend with the “Truck of the Year” award.

1995 to 2004 – First Generation Toyota Tacoma

Toyota finally decided on the Toyota Tacoma as the name for its small Toyota truck in 1995. This truck established its worth in the market throughout the next decade. The improved comfort and handling of this new generation of trucks drew buyers in.

Toyota added several versions to the Tacoma lineup between 1995 and 2004, including the Xtracab TRD and the PreRunner Xtracab.

2005 to the Present – Second Generation Toyota Tacoma

The latest generation of the Tacoma has won a number of awards in the car and truck industry. The Tacoma X-Runner, for example, won Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year” award in 2005. The 4.0-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission were standard on this model. Later on, it received some upgrades to its standard and safety features. In 2009, Toyota made some significant changes to the Tacoma.

First Generation Toyota TacomaDimensions

The Toyota Tacoma was smaller and more compact in its first generation trucks than other truck models from rival truck manufacturers. In February 1995, this truck was introduced to the American market. The previous generation of the Toyota Hilux was replaced by the Tacoma.

In this generation, three different types of engines were used. They are as follows:

  1. 2.4 L four-cylinder engine with 142 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque
  2. 2.7 L four-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque
  3. 3.4 L V6 engine with 190 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque

The dimensions of the first generation Toyota Tacoma variants are listed in the table below:

ModelOverall LengthWidthHeightWheelbase
Regular Cab184.4 in.70.1 in.61.0 to 64.1 in.103.3 in.
Xtra Cab202.3 in.70.3 in.61.0 to 64.1 in.121.9 in.
Xtra Cab 4WD202.3 in.70.3 in.67.7 in.199.0 in.

Second Generation Toyota TacomaDimensions

In the year 2000, Toyota began working on the second generation of Toyota Tacoma. Hino, a Japanese truck manufacturer, completed the majority of the developmental work. On February 4, 2004, Toyota debuted the new Tacoma at the Chicago Auto Show. It was more powerful and bigger than its predecessor.

It comes with three distinct cab designs, two different engine options, two (2) different bed length options, and four transmission options. The original 3.4-liter 5 VZ-FE V6 engine has been replaced by a 4.0-liter IGR-FE V6 engine in the new Tacoma.

This truck now had a towing capacity of 6,500 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,650 pounds. The engine produced 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. A 2.7-liter 2TR-FE 4-cylinder engine powered the regular model. It had a power output of 159 horsepower and a torque of 180 lb-ft.

The dimensions of the second generation Toyota Tacoma variants are listed in the table below:

ModelOverall LengthWidthHeightWheelbase
Regular Cab 2WD190.4 in.72.2 in.65.7 in.109.4 in.
Access Cab208.1in.74.3 in.69.9 in.127.8 in.
Double Cab Long Bed221.3 in.74.7 in.70.1 in.140.9 in.

Conclusion – Small Toyota Trucks [Plus History]

What’s the small Toyota truck called? Toyota Hilux was the name of the small Toyota trucks introduced in the United States in March 1968.

This vehicle falls within the compact pickup truck or mid-size pickup truck category. Toyota continues to sell Hilux in different parts of the world. In the United States, this small truck was succeeded by the Toyota Tacoma.