Toyota Tacoma S-Runner and X-Runner: Trucks That Turn Corners
Sometimes you need a pickup truck, and nothing else will do. You can't fit a motorcycle in the back of a Supra, and you can't haul a load of gravel in the trunk of your Corolla. But if you want on-road handling and pickup truck versatility, the Tacoma S-Runner or X-Runner may be just the ticket.
This article applies to the Toyota Tacoma S-Runner and X-Runner (2001-2012).
1 Part Taco, 1 Part Hachi-Roku
We all know the Toyota Tacoma is a tough little truck that punches above its weight class. It is capable of hauling a load for 250,000 miles without complaint, or crawling over a rocky trail off-road—where the only traffic are mountain goats. But those aren’t the only reasons to love Tacos, they can be on-road, or on-track, sporty trucks as well. In fact, between the time the Supra left the lineup and the Scion FR-S debuted, the Tacoma was arguably the sportiest car Toyota made that wasn’t a Lexus. Specifically, I am talking about the 2001 to 2004 Tacoma S-Runner and the 2005 to 2012 Tacoma X-Runner.
Tacoma S-Runner (2001-2004)
With the 2001 model year trucks, a special limited edition, street-oriented model was released called the S-Runner. Toyota only made 200 of them a month, all extended cab, 2WD, trucks with the 3.4 liter V6 and manual 5-speed transmission. Weighing less than 3,200 lbs (officially) and with nearly 200 hp, these trucks are fairly quick, but it is the Tokico shocks, 16” alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tires, and lowered, tuned suspension that really sets them apart. With a 0-60 mph time of 7.5-8 seconds (which wasn’t slow for 2001), they are not really all that quick. Of course, like all Tacos of this generation, there was the dealer installed supercharger option, which gave it power to match the sport tuned suspension. And yet, for all the added fun to drive factor, they still have the full factory payload, and can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
If you are shopping for a used one, Toyota made things somewhat easy because, though they are rare (less than 10,000 made), all of them have the V6 and 5-speed manual for maximum sportiness.
Tacoma X-Runner (2005-2012)
When the new Tacoma came out for 2005, an all-new X-Runner came with it. Specs were similar with all of them being extended cab and 2WD trucks, on a lowered sport suspension, with a body kit and hood scoop. The new trucks benefited from the improved, more powerful 4.0 liter V6 with 236 hp, and a 6-speed manual transmission. Unique to the X-Runner were special body braces under the bed to keep it from twisting up in corners. Wide 18” wheels with sport tires and 2” lower suspension further set it apart from typical Tacomas. Payload is still over 1,000 lbs, but the towing capacity went down to 3,000 lbs.
People still regularly autocross, drift, and track day their X-Runner trucks, and while not as fast as a dedicated sports car, or muscle car, they are still a whole lot of fun. Plus, it isn’t easy hosting a tailgate party in a Miata or picking up lumber in your Corvette.
Are these Tacomas still useful as trucks?
Yes! You won't be taking one off-roading, but they retain their factory payload and a reasonable tow rating of more than 3,000 lbs.
Do these sport trucks actually handle?
Yes! Considering the poor weight distribution of an unloaded truck, these Tacomas are surprisingly well balanced with throttle over-steer available whenever you want it, just like a Supra.
Can I take it to a track day?
Yes! You would not be the first owner of one of these sporty trucks to show up with one at an autocross, drift day, or open track event. You may have a hard time finding a sanctioning body with a class for them in actual racing, but plenty will let you track them.
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Toyota Tacoma X-Runner