The Tacoma was introduced in the US in February 1995 (March 1995 market launch) as a replacement for the Hilux, which prior to this was marketed in the US under the name Toyota Pickup. Compared with the Hilux, the Tacoma is engineered with a greater priority on ride quality, handling, comfort, and safety over ruggedness and payload capacity. The design is intended to better suit the needs of the US and Canadian pickup truck market, where pickup trucks, particularly compact and mid-sized models, are often used as personal vehicles, and less exclusively for commercial, agricultural, and off road use. The name was derived from the Coast Salish peoples’ name for Mt. Rainier in Washington state.

Development began in 1989, following launch of the fifth generation Toyota Pickup in late 1988 and concluded in 1994. Design work was done at Calty Design Research in California from 1990 to 1992, when Kevin Hunter’s exterior design proposal was chosen in the autumn of 1991 and in final form, frozen for production in 1992. Patents for the production design were filed in Japan in April 1993 and October 28, 1993 in the United States.

There were a total of three engines available for the Toyota Tacoma:

2.4 L four-cylinder rated at 142 hp (106 kW) and 160 lb·ft (217 N·m) of torque
2.7 L four-cylinder rated at 150 hp (112 kW) and 177 lb·ft (240 N·m) of torque
3.4 L V6 rated at 190 hp (142 kW) and 220 lb·ft (298 N·m) of torque.
The 2.4 L gave 29 miles per US gallon (8.1 L/100 km; 35 mpg-imp) (highway cycle), the 2.7 L gave 26 miles per US gallon (9.0 L/100 km; 31 mpg-imp) (highway), and the 3.4 L delivered 22 miles per US gallon (11 L/100 km; 26 mpg-imp) (highway ).[5]

Two-wheel drive Tacomas had 5-stud wheel lug patterns. The 2.4 L and 3.4 L engines were available in this vehicle depending on options. Automatic and manual transmissions were available.

Four-wheel drive Tacomas (also 2WD crew cabs 2000–present) had six-stud wheel lug patterns, which had been used on the prior pickups (pre-Tacoma trucks). The truck’s frame is fully boxed until immediately after the front leaf spring mount bracket where it transitions into a c-frame section. The 3.4 V6’s manual transmission was an R150F while the automatic transmission was an A340F (Aisin code is 30-40LE). From 95-97 Single cab Tacomas had the option of a manual transmission with the 3.4 V6 engine. The aftermarket TRD supercharged 3.4L V6 produced 254 bhp (189 kW) and 270 lb·ft (366 N·m).[6] From 1997 on, the single cabs only got a 2.7 L or a 2.4 L 4-cylinder from the factory. TRD packages started in 1997 (if the V6 engine was selected, a differential locker in the rear came with it).