2006 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner

Pickup trucks may have been born down on the farm, but they have been doing duty in urban settings for decades.

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Pickup trucks may have been born down on the farm, but they have been doing duty in urban settings for decades.

It's little wonder, then, that "street" trucks are making an appearance, and they're coming straight from the factory.

The canvas for the slammed truck I drove most recently is the Access Cab version of the 2006 Toyota Tacoma, called the X-Runner.

It has an MSRP of $31,755.

Painted in Speedway Blue, the colour bleeding right onto the full skirt package, this Tacoma announces its presence at each street light with a hood scoop, custom exhaust tips, five-spoke rims and 18-inch (P255/45R18) performance tires that can easily be chirped with the 240 hp V6 engine.

Not that I would solicit a street race, except in my imagination: I'd love to drop the hammer on a tuner Civic.

With its close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission, the truck really cooks.

Tacoma was named Best New Pickup for 2005 by the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. The factory-optioned X-Runner takes its name from its "x-braced" frame.

More than a paint and plastic package, X-Runner includes factory-lowered sport suspension with specially tuned Bilstein shock absorbers positioned outboard of the frame rails, plus a rear stabilizer bar.

Standard limited-slip rear differential keeps the torque (282 lb.-ft. at 3800 r.p.m.) under control on the truck, which is rear-wheel drive only.

While the new 4.0-litre V6 certainly has enough grunt to back up the truck's look, it's the six-speed gearbox that turns it into a ground-pounder.

First through third are short gears that, when pushed, fire the X-Runner out of the hole, while four through six get progressively longer. In sixth gear, on the highway, the engine is barely working, offering up decent gas mileage (fuel savings that you may end up spending coming off those lights).

The shifter itself has a fairly long throw, and the gates are a bit narrow. That aside, Toyota is clearly demonstrating that gearing the power to the ground is as (or more) important than making horsepower in the combustion end of the powertrain.

X-Runner with the 4L V6 and six-speed manual is 11.5 L/100 km city and 8 litres on the highway.

First shown in 1995 using the 4Runner chassis, the Tacoma lasted a decade before getting a complete makeover last year, resulting in a larger, beefier, truck.

Double Cab models with automatic transmissions are 515 mm longer, while shorter Access Cab models are anywhere from 154 mm to 279 mm longer than the Xtracab models they replaced.

A 1,880 mm (6-foot) cargo bed is standard on every Tacoma except the Doublecab 4WD, which carries a 1,550 mm bed.

As an Access Cab model, X-Runner has two rear three-quarter doors opening forward. Pedestal-mounted jump seats accommodate occasional rear-seat passengers. These perches fold against the cab wall to create more cargo space.

Competitors' rear cargo and seating solutions on new trucks are making the Tacoma looked dated.

My key concerns: the vertical seat backs with no head restraints, folded seats that don't offer a flat floor and carpet unprotected from dirt.

I said "concerns" because, at its heart, this Toyota is still a capable work truck.

Despite its street-wise appearance, it no doubt will be used for more than collecting admiring looks.

I had the rig only a couple of days before I needed to pick up an ATV. The tester had a tow package that includes a seven-pin trailer wire harness and a Class IV trailer hitch, for a towing capacity of 2,948 kg.

The cargo bed is made of a composite material lighter than steel and more durable, says the company. The bed resists impact damage, won't rust and is said to stand up to professional abuse.

I don't know if I'd call myself a professional abuser, but after a weekend of transporting mud-covered ATVs in my X-Runner, a garden hose was all I needed to clean up the abuse.

Ride-wise, the truck is stiffer than stock – as you'd expect with the lowered suspension and the need to keep the ground effects package off the pavement.

It suffers on rough gravel roads for its lack of suspension travel and give.

Tacoma also has a removable tailgate, integrated side storage boxes and a 400-watt (115V) power outlet in the side of the box.

This lets you take your power tools into the field and run them off the truck.

The manufacturer notes that to realize the full 400-watt potential draw, the motor must be running. This feature will make a few portable generator suppliers less than happy.

The X-Runner package also includes fog lights, air conditioning and power mirrors, windows and door locks.

The six-speaker AM/FM radio has a six-CD changer, and the steering wheel is leather wrapped as is the shift knob.

Besides Speedway Blue, X-Runner can be ordered in Radiant Red and Black Sand Pearl paint.

Not one to miss an opportunity, Toyota has rolled out a host of accessories for Tacoma.

Possible enhancements include hard and soft tonneau covers, a tool box, an interior bike rack, side step bars, running boards and more.

Price: (base/as tested) $31,755 Engine: 4.0-litre V6 Fuel consumption: (City/Hwy.) 11.5 / 8 L / 100 km Power/torque: 240 hp/ 282 lb.-ft.

Competition: Nissan Frontier, Dodge Dakota, GMC Canyon Pros: Clean, low-rider look Cons: Poorly arranged rear cabin space What 's interesting: The 400 watts of AC power available anywhere by plugging into the box outlet powersports @; wheels @

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