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2024 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner with XtraCab: first look at the new features and design


The 2024 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner made its debut at the Overland Expo West, and I had the opportunity to get a close look at this highly anticipated truck. Sporting an Underground exterior color and with the XtraCab configuration, this new midsize truck captured quite a bit of attention and faced some immediate criticism.

What is the 2024 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner?

Designed for high-speed off-roading rather than rock climbing, the PreRunner comes only in 2WD and a rear locker. It also comes with a six-foot bed, an XtraCab with lockable storage, and the iForce Max engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The truck offers increased ground clearance and rides on 17-inch rims with 33-inch tires.

The front end showcases LED lights and an air pass-through system. Notably, the display model had its air dam removed, which can be easily removed with nine bolts and only exists to improve aerodynamics as well as meeting EPA fuel economy targets. The suspension setup includes leaf springs, while other trim levels have a multi-link coil suspension.

Moving to the rear, the Tacoma Pre-Runner comes with hook spots for recovery purposes and an electronically locking tailgate. The tailgate is interesting since there is no key rather it is all controlled via the key fob. It is light weight with its aluminum construction and has is dampened to drop down smoothly.

The bed design is identical to the 2022 Tundra with its composite material which is light weight and durable plus scratch-resistant. Generation 3 Tacoma trucks have had this same bed material aka plastic bed and it has held up well according to consumers I’ve talked with over the years.

Inside, the XtraCab has only two doors with the rear having no door access. Instead, the front seats slide and move forward giving access to a variety of different storage options. For example, there are bungee tie-down points, hooks for securing items, a shelf offering different height adjustability for cargo and even a peg board on the rear cabin wall allowing you to create all sorts of different storage options.

Criticism of the Tacoma PreRunner

Right after posting our video on the truck, see the embedded video below, it was clear there was some confusion and criticism of the PreRunner and more notably the XtraCab.

First, the PreRunner only comes in 2WD and not 4WD. This seems odd in today’s 4WD crazy pickup world, but the PreRunner has always been a 2WD pickup. The idea here is to drop the weight of the 4WD system making the pickup lighter and faster for high speed desert running. It is not meant to be for everyone and has always had a particular customer in mind.

With this said, there are 4WD models of the XtraCab cabin setup in the SR and SR5 models.

Speaking of the XtraCab, there has been some criticism of this as well. The criticism is aimed at the fact the rear doors don’t open. They are not meant to open and this was due to “safety and crash test” concerns according to Toyota Tacoma Chief Engineer Sheldon Brown.

Many people’s concerns are about getting access to the storage options in the rear since you have to contend with the front seats being in the way. While the front seats do slide forward allowing you access to the rear storage area, some people might have issues reaching back into the cabin.

Critics point out the Nissan Frontier King Cab still has suicide doors allowing for the rear storage area to be accessed as the swing door is opened. If the Nissan Frontier can offer a swing door or suicide door, why can’t the Tacoma?

Brown did expand on his point on the lack of a swing door during a fireside chat at the Overland Expo West I attended. He said, in their research and surveys of Tacoma access cab customers (the extended cab version from the generation 3 Tacoma), they found customers weren’t using the seats in that truck. Instead, the rear was just a storage area for most customers, so that drove their decision to really focus on storage and not seating.

The bottom line

The PreRunner and the XtraCab have both been hot topics with the introduction of the new 2024 Toyota Tacoma. While the PreRunner critic is likely just a lack of understanding on who the pickup was built for, the XtraCab is a much more interesting discussion. Will the sliding front seats be enough for consumers? Will the aftermarket step in with another solution? This is going to be interesting to watch play out.

What do you think? Are you fan or a critic?

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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