1996 TOYOTA T100
Used Pickup - 1996 Toyota T100 in Orlando, Fl
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1996 Toyota T100 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
An added dimension for Toyota's little big truck.
When Toyota introduced its T100 three years ago, it was the first full-size Japanese pickup in a market as American as apple pie. Although Toyota initially refrained from using the full-size label, it could carry a 4x8 plywood sheet between its rear wheel wells and three adults between its doors. But unlike other large pickups, the T100 arrived with a small V6 in a market where big, brawny V8s are king. It also came regular-cab-only at a time when demand for roomier extended cabs was increasing.
Sales languished. But while some pundits called that first T100 an outsized flop, others suspected it was merely a foot in the door. Toyota's T100 Xtracab has proven the optimists right. A 21.7-in. stretch provides the rear seat and lockable storage space T100s have lacked. Though they still lack a V8 engine option, a potent new V6 is another reason more big-truck buyers are putting the T100 on their shopping lists.
Consistent with its foot-in-the-door mission, the T100 was originally conceived as a step-up vehicle for Toyota's loyal compact-pickup owners. As such, its soft curves and mild fender blisters are more an echo of existing Toyota trucks than a challenge to other full-size pickups.
T100 Xtracabs are also some 3 in. narrower than Ford's extended-cab F-150 and nearly 35 in. shorter than Dodge's Club Cab Ram. While that means less space inside, it gives full-size T100 Xtracabs a relatively tight 37.7-ft. turning circle--something else that should appeal to buyers used to the easier parking and agility of a compact truck.
Bed length is another area where T100s have more in common with their compact cousins. While regular cab versopms get the 8-ft. long bed big trucks are known for, T100 Xtracabs come short-bed only. Fortunately, those widely spaced wheelwells and some well-placed tie-down hooks in back help this relatively svelte pickup handle full-size loads. So does a hefty, 2150-lb. payload rating that's within 300 lbs. of the class-leading Ford F-150.
The new V6 also improves the T100's towing capabilities, although they're still ordinary compared to those of full-size domestics. A 2wd V6-powered T100 can tow as much as 5200 lbs. The total drops 200 lbs. with 4wd, while the rating for the 4-cyl. edition tops out at 4000 lbs.
Buyers will also find the T100 refreshingly easy to order. Models include the base $14,448 Regular Cab DX, $18,018 Xtracab DX and $19,738 Xtracab SR5. While all offer a 5-speed stick or 4-speed automatic, only the Xtracab offers 4-wheel drive. U.S. full-size pickups, in contrast, offer literally dozens of variations, which can be confusing to a first-time buyer.
Engine choices are also uncomplicated. All Regular Cab T100s get a 16-valve, 2.7-liter 4-cyl. that makes the same 150 hp as the first-generation V6. Xtracabs get a larger 3.4-liter 24-valve version of the old V6 with an extra 40 hp and another 40 lb.-ft. of pulling power, giving the T100 power parity with the lower range of domestic truck engines.
However, the T100's limited options mix can also be frustrating. For example, you can't order the more work-oriented regular cab with the V6. Nor can you get antilock brakes unless you opt for the Xtracab. Even then, the 4-wheel antilock system is a $980 option at a time when competitors include at least a rear-wheel ABS system as part of the basic package.
Choices are limited here as well. For instance, power locks, windows and mirrors are available only on the Xtracab SR5. The good news: If you step up to the SR5, you can slice $1165 off the cost of well-equipped versions with a $457 value package (VP). Along with the above, it includes air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering and added instrumentation, along with wider tires and chrome trim.
SR5s with power accessories feature large, door-mounted control tabs you can find, identify and operate without taking your eyes off the road.
We spent most of our time in a minimally equipped Xtracab DX, which highlighted some basic strengths of the T100 lineup, as well as a few significant weaknesses.
Space up front is one of the high points. The T100's front seat legroom is on a par with any full-size pickup. While hip and shoulder room are tight compared with a Dodge Ram, they're within an inch or two of Ford and GM trucks. A 60/40 front bench that reclines and folds is an added plus, as are height-adjustable upper mounts for the shoulder belts.
Another small but welcome touch is an ignition lock located on the dash, rather than somewhere on the column--easier to locate and use. Directly below it is a twist handle for the parking brake that's easier to use than the usual foot pedal. Drivers also get large readable gauges for the speedometer and optional tach.
Along with the tach, our Xtracab DX had the oil-pressure and volt gauges included in the $605 Convenience Package. While informative, the extra gauges are spread out compared to the ones in newer trucks. They're also enclosed in dated-looking
rectangular graphs that are harder to read than round displays.
Other complaints: A center-seat cutout eliminates thigh support for the occasional center passenger. The oft-used radio controls are mounted below the ones for climate. And instead of rotary knobs for temperature and modes, the T100 has old-fashioned slide levers that are obscured by the slide-out cupholder when it's in use.
In back, a 3-pasenger 50/50 folding bench faces forward like the ones in other large pickups. It's also inclined 15 degrees aft for added comfort. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of legroom up front leaves precious little of it for rear passengers. And while rear hip and shoulder room are generous compared with a compact pickup, both are narrow for a full-size truck. As extended-cab pickups go, the T100's rear seat area is exceptionally cramped.
Things get better on the road. While the new twin-camshaft V6 won't rev any higher than the old single-cam version, it does so a lot more quickly and smoothly. It's also quieter and more powerful off the line, thanks to a lower torque peak than the previous V6. That and a significant weight saving over competitors helps the T100 V6 outrun some V8s, at least according to the numbers.
But the appeal of V8-powered trucks goes well beyond mere specifications. They're also about satisfying sounds and exhilharating rushes of power--neither of which this V6 delivers.
Low operating noise levels are a Toyota trademark, and the T100 is a worthy representative of the family on this score. Layers of sound deadening and an extra thick rear cab wall shield occupants from undesirable sounds. The result is what may be the quietest ride of any pickup on the road today, large or small.
Handling is competent and cornering flat and stable for a pickup, thanks in part to a fully independent front suspension and a relatively low center of gravity.
Two-wheel-drive T100s also come with direct-acting rack-and-pinion steering, while space constraints on 4x4 versions require the added linkages of a recirculating-ball system. Surprisingly, the rack-and-pinion steering requires added turns lock to lock.
Space constraints up front also require torsion bars instead of the coil springs on other 4x2 pickups. Though the long bars help handling, they also contribute to this truck's busy ride over bumps. So does a short wheelbase compared with other full-size pickups; the Xtracab shares the same wheelbase as the standard T100.
Though less spacious than its competitors, T100 Xtracabs are a quieter, carlike alternative for buyers who want a big truck without big truck bulk. Like Toyota's compact pickup, assembly quality is first rate. And at $22,495 for a well-optioned Xtracab SR5 4x2 with antilock brakes and an automatic transmission, T100s cost about $1000 less than similarly equipped models from Detroit. Uplevel 4x4 editions also allow you to shift between 2- and 4wd drive on the fly with pushbutton ease.
T100s could get even more affordable when Toyota begins building them at its new plant in Princeton, Indiana, sometime in 1998. Although this is not yet the right truck for really heavy hauling, a new design with a V8 is also in the plan for the new factory, as is a build capacity of 100,000 units.
By then, this little big truck will not only have both feet in the door, it could waltz right through it.
Options As Tested
4-wheel ABS, air conditioning, AM/FM radio, P235/75R-15 tires, chrome step bumpers, tilt steering wheel, sliding rear window, tachometer, variable intermittent wipers, 60/40 folding front seats, metallic paint, bedliner, tow hitch.
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