Earlier this month, Toyota announced there would be two new packages for the 2023 Tacoma, with no other real changes. Our takeaway from this news was that we wouldn’t see an all-new midsize Tacoma until 2024.
These new spy shots confirm that — especially when you look at the rough Frankenstein-like interior shots. This vehicle is nowhere near production. But what we do see are some styling cues from the Tundra (please, Toyota, not the grille!) and a very interesting change to the rear suspension.
Whenever we get spy shots, they are accompanied by commentary. So, rather than try to paraphrase what the photographer said he saw, here are the notes in full and unedited:
We caught a mule for the next-generation Toyota Tacoma engaged in some off-road testing, giving us our clearest look yet at some of its new Tundra-based details.
No Suspension Camo—Evidence of Coil Springs Shows Through
All prior mules for the 2024 Tacoma have had heavy “sweeper-style” camouflage hanging down from the rear bumper, and additional camo in front of the rear wheels, but all of that is missing on this latest prototype. These were off-road tests, and it seems that Toyota engineers had to remove all obstructions to best assess the new Tacoma’s clearances in the face of nasty trail hazards. With the suspension camo gone, we were able to get our best look at the Tacoma’s new suspension design—and it’s clearly heavily influenced by Toyota’s new Tundra.
The new Tundra uses Toyota’s TNGA GA-F platform (also shared with the new Land Cruiser), and the Tacoma has been expected to use an adaptation of this new architecture to modernize its midsize offering. These new shots help to confirm that something very close to the Tundra is being used to build the new Tacoma. We see evidence of the same rear suspension details, and the same mounting points for the coil springs. We also get an uncovered look at the Tacoma’s rear trailing arm design, which are another match to the Tundra’s rear suspension design. There are definitely no leaf springs in use on the next-gen Tacoma. All of the benefits enjoyed by the modernized Tundra should trickle right down to the Tacoma, to help it battle the likes of the Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado—all which will have been redesigned when this Tacoma is finally ready for to debut.
We also get a look at the Tacoma’s pickup box in its early stage of assemble. Let’s just say it’s in a pretty basic state at this stage of testing.
A Look Inside The Tacoma Mule
Our latest shots finally give us a look at some elements of elements of the Tacoma’s interior, and things are…rough. These early prototypes are clearly using the Tundra’s interior, but it looks like the truck was found at a chop shop. Much of the dash is exposed for easy access to wiring, while the Tacoma’s design is finalized. There’s still a lot of work to do to get to a finished, production-ready truck.
Many modified Tundra parts are in use throughout the initial Tacoma prototypes, scaled-down to a midsize footprint. The placement of the fuel door—and it’s relation to the cab—says that this mule is fitted with a 5.5-foot bed (which is only available on the the Tundra’s CrewMax configurations. The shortest bed that can be optioned on a Tundra Double Cab is 6.5-feet, which would place the fuel door much farther from the cab. It’s clear that this mule—with its smaller and cab and shorter bed—is designed to test a smaller, midsize truck like the upcoming Tacoma.
Though we don’t have a clear idea of what’s coming for the 2024 Toyota Tacoma just yet in terms of design, this new revelation is a big one. Expect a smoother ride and better off-road chops because of it. We’ll probably start seeing real teasers from Toyota next year at this time, and we think the truck will be revealed in the early fall of 2023 for delivery before the end of that. year.
The 920B Tacoma mule not having the final interior in testing photos, has nothing to do with what we are designing at the moment.
The interior design was finalized in March of 2021, so we are not still working on it, outside of small stuff in details.
Just isn’t present mechanical test prototype.