If there was a 'maybe' response, I'd choose it. The ride is tolerable. The TRD Off-Road package (with 4WD) is very capable off-road. Handling is not bad for a truck with an off-road oriented suspension and off-road tires. It is a maneuverable package and fits fairly well in tight spots. Fuel economy- I'm unable to hit the combined EPA rating. My highway mileage averages about 18-19 MPG driving slow. I don't tow. I usually have about 50 lbs worth of gear in the bed. Power is not bad. However, it feels like it is all in the higher rev range. In the 25k miles I've had it, one of the rear brakes leaked. The transfer case leaked. The power steering rack had to be replaced. One of the rear back-up sensors failed and had to be replaced.
After months of researching and test driving, my choice came down to the Tacoma or Frontier. Frontiers were less expensive, had more torque and had a very cool industrial, rugged look. Reliability ratings on the Tacome were so high, reviews so glowing and resale higher as well, that it seemed I'd get what I payed for. Have to say, the styling, interior/exterior details are far superior and I've gotten numerous compliments on the 'sexy new truck' It rides like a dream, even on DC's wretched roads, is comfortable and has a very nice sound system. I've found myself taking 'the long way home' to spend more time in the truck. 8 weeks later(at 54,000 miles) the check engine light is on, runs poorly and it seems I have to replace sensors, catalytic converters?? according to the engine codes. So much for Toyota reliability. My 1994 Tacoma went to 184,000 miles without ever seeing a mechanic, so I'm disenchanted with the quality. Will fix, drive a year and reevaluate. Ps. Gas mileage is about 18mpg.
The transmission shifts gears constantly, and the droning engine noise is irritating and makes it sound like an econo-box. I think this truck would almost be tolerable with a manual transmission, but the auto tranny and engine noise are major turn offs.