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Are Toyota Tacomas Front Wheel Drive?

Vehicles, like the Toyota Tacoma, have been made to suit favorable conditions for many years now, and choosing between a front-wheel-drive (FWD) and a rear-wheel drive (RWD) gives the driver the option of having a more suited vehicle to their needs. 

But which is better for you and how do you choose? Do Tacomas even offer FWD? 

The Toyota Tacoma’s are either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel-drive but they are not front-wheel-drive. Some companies may refer to Tacoma’s as two-wheel-drive, but the two-wheel-drive feature is for the rear tires only.

Released in 1995, the first generation of the Toyota Tacoma was designed to replace the Toyota Hilux to improve the overall quality of a more personal-use compact truck. It better fed the needs of the US and Canadian compact truck market and was a huge success in its first few years. 

Read on to find out more information about the wheel driving features of the Tacoma and why it is still a very successful vehicle in today’s market.

Are Any Tacomas Front Wheel Drive?

Toyota Tacoma’s are not front-wheel-drive. They come in two-wheel-drive models for rear-wheel and overall balancing of the whole vehicle and four-wheel-drive (4WD) models for the ultimate off-road experience.

To understand more about why Tacoma’s aren’t manufactured with FWD options, you need to understand the differences in the advantages and disadvantages of the FWD models when compared with RWD. 

You should also know why other cars benefit from FWD and Tacoma’s do not.

What Is Front Wheel Drive?

Front-wheel-drive is where the engine of a vehicle powers and drives the front two wheels only.

Although FWD vehicles offer some great advantages, they aren’t typically used in trucks, compact, mid-size, or larger trucks and we’ll explain why in further detail below.

But first, one of the main advantages of a FWD is its valuable fuel-saving economy.

The way in which a FWD car offers better fuel economy through gas mileage is because the engine is mounted at the front of the vehicle, which gives more weight to the drivetrain and less to the rest of the car. 

The engine system sends power to the front two wheels which then pull the car forward on their own.

Among other benefits, like better traction from the heaviness of the engine being placed at the front of the vehicle, and more cabin space for the driver, passengers, and their cargo, FWD vehicles are usually cheaper in production costs.

Like all technology and mechanical engineering, however, the FWD design is not perfect and has some disadvantages. These disadvantages might not seem like a big deal to some, but in larger vehicles designed for hauling more weight, FWD would not be a viable option.

  • Due to the weight of the engine the front tires wear out quicker
  • Strain and tension on the front joints including steering and suspension mechanisms might mean costly repairs
  • The heaviness of the front of the vehicle can also cause the car to drift sideways when accelerating
  • FWDs have a larger turning radius due to less space for the front tires to turn from the engine placement at the front of the vehicle

What Is Rear Wheel Drive?

Rear-Wheel-Drive (RWD) is the opposite of front-wheel-drive where the engine system in the vehicle only powers and drives the rear tires.

The job of each set of tires on a RWD vehicle is to ensure both sets have an equal amount of pressure for better performance of both the front and rear tires. The front tires steer adequately, while the back tires provide the power to move forward.

RWD was introduced before FWD and was the most common make of vehicle until gas prices soared in the late 1900s. Most car manufacturers removed RWD from their line-up process because they weren’t sought-after vehicles any longer.

Here are the benefits of rear-wheel-drive:

  • Even weight distribution throughout the vehicle prevents uneven wear and tear of tires and other mechanical parts of a vehicle
  • Better driving balance
  • Doesn’t pull sideways the way a FWD vehicle might from the weight in the front of the car (torque steer)
  • Provides enhanced control through the center of gravity for the driver’s seat
  • Enhanced steering around corners with more room for the front tires to maneuver sideways

The disadvantages of a RWD are very few, but because of the weight distribution and the extra weight towards the rear of the vehicle, fuel becomes an issue and you do typically get fewer gallons per mile.

Another disadvantage is the limited traction of the tires on the road and along with that is the possibility of over-steering. RWD vehicles also don’t perform as well in bad weather conditions like snow, ice, etc. 

Why Aren’t Toyota Tacoma Trucks Front-Wheel-Drive?

It’s not just Toyota Tacoma, but most trucks that aren’t FWD and are still designed as RWD or more commonly in off-road adventuring vehicles, 4WD.

Although most manufacturers have removed RWD vehicles from their line-up and have replaced them with FWD and AWD, RWD is still the most common drive-type used in trucks and SUV-based vehicles today.

Many sports vehicles also still implement the RWD system for better steering control and turning abilities.

Here’s a list of vehicles that are still manufactured today with RWD, the Tacoma being one of the most popular.

So when the world started phasing out RWD, why weren’t trucks included?

Most trucks and larger vehicles like busses, SUVs, and mid-sized pickup trucks carry most of their weight in the back of the vehicle on the rear axles. Because of the weight in the back of larger vehicles, the front tires generally have less traction while the rear tires have more, effectively making the front tires useless when it comes to grip on the road.

Here are a few other reasons as to why larger vehicles, like the Toyota Tacoma, among many other models, are still manufactured with RWD:

  • Larger vehicles are harder to maneuver and need all the steering help they can get. With less weight in the front of the vehicle and more space for the front tires to turn, maneuvering a truck becomes easier as RWD.
  • The RWD design is more simple than FWD which means the extra work that larger vehicles are made for (transport, haulage, towing, etc) durability and longer drives.
  • Can go longer periods without needing to be serviced because they’re built for efficiency and reliability
  • RWD can provide better power and control around tight corners

Larger vehicles need to have the ability to have fuller steering capabilities for turning corners and maintaining control of the front of the vehicle. Having more weight in the back of the Tacoma, either while towing or not towing at all, keeps the vehicle in control and avoids over-turning situations that smaller vehicles might not avoid as easily.

Tacoma’s Are RWD Or 4WD

Here’s what you get when you buy a Toyota Tacoma:

  • Standard rear-wheel drive
  • Optional Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) depending on preference
  • 2.7-liter 4-cylinder or 3.5-liter V6 engine
  • 4-speed auto or up to 6-speed manual
  • Capable of towing up to 6800lbs with the right tow equipment
  • Payload capacity up to 1620lbs

The Tacoma has been popular since 1995 and although FWD is more common in smaller vehicles today, the Tacoma is still listed as a “truck” sized vehicle and is therefore eligible for RWD mechanical engineering.

Tacoma’s have always been manufactured as RWD and this has served the vehicle well in reliability, durability, and long-lasting value.

Final Thoughts

RWD is the standard option of a Toyota Tacoma, but you also have the option to select a 4WD if your leisurely activities involve off-road journeys. 

The Tacoma has never been designed with a FWD option and has always been manufactured with comfort in mind for everyday use whether personal or work-related.