The Taco’s Toppings – From the Beginning

Since purchasing my 2011 Toyota Tacoma, lots have been done to it. I often found myself scouring the forums and the internet looking for reviews on products and reasons for why people made the decisions they did. So I figured I’d put my 2 cents in for the accessories and upgrades I chose starting from the beginning. Now I’m no mechanic. I love cars, trucks, and automobiles but love alone doesn’t make me an expert. Hence our blog name – Nooblanders. I was, and still am, and will probably always be a newbie when it comes to all things cars and trucks. We all start somewhere and learn from the experiences of others. I can only hope that my experiences help someone else starting out from scratch.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time so take all of this with a large grain of salt. Or the whole salt lick. I only want to share my side of the experience.

2011 Toyota Tacoma TRD Double Cab Short Bed

2012-05-07 16.58.41.jpg
The Taco after about a year…

Let’s start from the very beginning. My family started off with a K-Car when they first moved to Calgary. After that they had a Chevy Astro, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Voyager, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Highlander, a newer Honda Odyssey (last one got written off), a newer Toyota Highlander, and finally a Toyota RAV 4. The most reliable memories come from all the Japanese imports near the end so right off the bat, I started off a little biased.

I wanted a vehicle that was both rugged but practical and future proof. Full size pickups were a little too much truck for me. A small car was too little and not practical enough to eventually tow a trailer, family, or store various sporting goods or eventually take me to Alaska on 300km of gravel highway. It came down to either an SUV or a mid-sized pickup. Both offered upgrade-ability and were versatile enough to suit my need. Most came with V6 options – sufficient power to move things but not too big to cost a lot at the pump.

I wanted something that I could throw dirty things in without feeling guilty. Uh oh…that’s sounding like a pickup. I always felt guilty about piling dirty tires or my bike into the back of the highlander and scuffing up the walls, windows, and dirtying up the upholstery despite using a blanket to cover. I grew up driving larger vehicles like SUVs and mini vans. SUVs sometimes didn’t have enough space and mini vans were…well…not really that cool.

So a mid-sized pickup that could comfortably carry people, cargo, and be upgraded to suit other needs. I narrowed my list to: Ford Ranger, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma. Ford Rangers and Sport Tracs were both out of production by the time I wanted to purchase a vehicle and it was tough finding a good used one. Especially when you wanted the fancier, larger rimmed Adrenaline edition Sport Trac (hey…don’t we all have a little tuner in us that wants big rims?). So I test drove the Frontier and the Tacoma. The Frontier offered a Pro-4X edition as its more offroad trim. I have to say I wasn’t impressed. The 4.0L V6 boasted 261bhp on paper and a higher torque rating than the Tacoma but when pedal hit the metal…nothing really happened. The double cab was extremely cramped. The short wheelbase was attractive though as was the factory roof rack rails. Have to say I liked the rims too. The price tag was rock bottom brand new which made it a big contender. Unfortunately, the engine and transmission killed it for me as did the space in the cab. Then I test drove the Tacoma. Lots of space in the cab, short bed option for similar wheelbase (just a touch longer, I believe). Similar displacement – a 4.0L V6 with 236bhp on paper and a lower torque rating. The transmission did it for me though. For the sole reason of having more fun driving, I wanted the manual transmission and the Tacoma’s transmission was as easy as a new Honda Civic. It was forgiving yet seemed to have the oomf I was looking for. The price point was higher and when I looked for a used Tacoma TRD, first of all, it was difficult to find a manual transmission one. Secondly, the leather package was even more rare. Finally, the price of a used Tacoma with 50000km on it was only about 2-3k less than a brand new one.

The rest, as they say, is history. I now had my dream truck and I was damned proud of it. Oh the places it would take me and the adventures I would have…

 

5 years later I’m still in love with my truck. In terms of reliability, I’ve never had a problem with the engine. I do regular oil changes and the recommended maintenance on brakes, propeller shaft, etc. My passenger side blower fan started squeaking at one point due to a cheaper grease that was used but that was replaced under warranty. The bed bolts in the back have seized on occasion but that’s been remedied by routine maintenance. Except one bolt…I still need to fix that. Ended up stripping the bolt. Oops. Electrical has never been an issue. I’m still on the original battery but that will change soon. Anything else, please ask!

 

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