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CARFAX Finds: Toyota Tacoma, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser

Toyota may have a reputation for building practical and efficient cars, but they’re also a player in the world of trucks. From early Land Cruisers to modern pickup trucks, Toyota has a longstanding image of marrying their legendary reliability with capable machines that can stand up to constant rough use. It’s an image Toyota has honed all over the world, which is why everyone’s trying to figure out why they’re so popular with extremist groups in the Middle East.

For these CARFAX Finds, we take a look at some of the Toyota trucks on the market and what you can expect to pay. Here are three examples of variations on the popular Toyota Tacoma. Two of them are also alternatives if you want an SUV, but don’t want to be someone waving the Jeep flag.

2016 Toyota Tacoma
(Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

Compact pickup trucks are back in fashion, and the best-seller for the better part of a decade has been the Toyota Tacoma. While the redesigned 2016 Tacoma is already on dealer lots, Toyota’s compact truck has been a staple of Hawaiian beaches and with fashionable young active types. The Tacoma has an even bigger reputation of durability and putting up with what truck buyers need their vehicles to do.

Tacomas aren’t cheap. Even high-mileage, bare-bones examples are nearly $10,000 to start. For a lightly used, four-door Double Cab (the most practical model), expect to pay upwards of $15,000.

At least you’re treated to solid build quality and a robust 4.0-liter V6 at that price. The Tacoma didn’t change much between 2005 and 2015 (the 2016 model brings several useful upgrades, though it’s no longer the class leader), which is great news for used shoppers. It’s far from a refined tool, but the Tacoma is trustworthy and loyal – like a Boy Scout. That keeps values high and owners swearing by them year after year.

A Tacoma isn’t great if you regularly fill it up with people, though. For that, consider the Toyota 4Runner. It takes much of the Tacoma’s roots, but wears a larger outfit for more practicality. And it also carries that tough Toyota truck image. 4Runners also hold their value well, so count on at least $20,000 for a current, 2010 or newer model.

Don’t expect a 4Runner to provide Camry-like levels of refinement. Despite being from the same maker, the 4Runner is most definitely an old-school SUV in its execution. As a way to comfortably transport your family, there are better, less expensive choices on the market. But the 4Runner is for off-road enthusiasts who have no interest in driving an inflated station wagon with seven seats. With four-wheel drive and a good set of tires, the 4Runner is basically unstoppable off the pavement. It definitely has an attitude that crossovers don’t have.

2014-fj-cruiser-resale-valueBut what if you want something completely ridiculous? This is the Toyota FJ Cruiser and it was one of the bolder creations to emerge from the typically conservative outfit. From around $16,000, you can find an example with respectable mileage.

The FJ Cruiser takes the 4Runner and makes it into something that tries to recall old Land Cruisers, but really looks like a cartoon figure. Yet hiding under the exaggerated bodywork is largely the same off-road gear that keeps both the Tacoma and 4Runner going just about anywhere. While some in their rusty Jeeps may laugh at you, they could be impressed by how far you can get off road with an FJ. Still, it might not be the best choice if you plan to conquer new lands.

Toyota’s trucks certainly command more of a premium than American rivals, but if you search carefully you can still find a bargain among them.

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