I love when car companies get weird about the technology in their vehicles. Not when they put underpowered processors in for their infotainment systems or refuse to support CarPlay or Android Auto, but when they get creative about how you could use the technology in your vehicle for more than just tuning into your music or getting directions.
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma is a perfect example of this. In a press release, Toyota announced the latest generation of the popular truck. Dave Christ, Toyota group vice president and general manager, said in a statement that the team “outdid themselves” with the new version of the Tacoma:
“This truck offers customers more of everything, including technology, style and capability, all with an attractive starting MSRP. This is a segment Toyota has carried for years, and we feel this next iteration of Tacoma only raises the bar.”
The new Tacoma features a bunch of cool technology like its optional 14-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system and its optional 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with four different styles. The truck also comes packed with wireless CarPlay or Android Auto, a Qi wireless charging pad for your phone, and USB-C ports for data and charging. Yes! One more nail in the coffin of USB-A and Lightning.
The all-new Tacoma is filled with the latest technology and information screens that bring significant updates to the cabin. A new 8-inch or available 14-inch multimedia touchscreen displays Toyota’s latest Audio Multimedia system and is designed and engineered by Toyota’s Texas-based Connected Technologies team. The system supports wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility and pairs well with the available Qi wireless charging pad with enhanced power output. A USB-C data and charging port is integrated on the right side of the display, and dual USB-C charging ports are included in the front row and available for the rear passengers. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with four different styles is standard on higher grades, while a 7-inch gauge cluster is standard on lower grades.
The company is also bringing a digital key to the vehicle, allowing owners to share their key with family and friends without having to give them their physical key. Both Apple and Google have announced support for digital car keys on their platforms, but it’s currently unclear if Toyota’s digital key will be compatible with either company’s Wallet apps. Here’s hoping!
Standard on all grades is a Smart Key System with push-button start. With an active Remote Connect trial or subscription, an available Digital Key connects with compatible smartphones to allow vehicle entry, tailgate access and vehicle starting (4G network dependent). The Digital Key can also be remotely shared with others to give more control over vehicle access rather than giving someone the physical key. Additionally, a Smart Card key is available, which is a credit card-sized smart key that allows the driver to carry their key easily and conveniently with them wherever they go.
Okay, while all of that tech is cool, nothing can compare to this last one. The new Tacoma features a center speaker that you can actually remove from your center console. The speaker, made in partnership with JBL, has six hours of battery life when removed from the truck and then turns into a center speaker when docked. If your friend also has a Tacoma, you can even pair them together to create a stereo setup. Bananas.
For those who love to jam out both in their truck on the way to camp and at the campsite, Tacoma now offers a premium 10 speaker JBL® audio upgrade, including a new externally coupled subwoofer for improved output and a JBL® FLEX portable speaker. When docked on the dash, the JBL® FLEX charges and operates as the center channel speaker. When undocked, the JBL® FLEX portable Bluetooth speaker can play music from your Bluetooth device, run for up to six hours, pair with other Toyota JBL® FLEX Portable Speakers, and be submerged in up to three feet of water.
Of course, a removable speaker in a truck isn’t new. Rivian also offers a removable speaker in its R1T pickup and R1S SUV that tucks away under the center console when not in use. It does not, however, serve as an additional speaker when docked as far as I am aware, so Toyota and JBL took things to the next level there.
I’ll be curious to see how the JBL speaker sounds (when docked and when removed). The company is known for making some solid Bluetooth speakers, so I would imagine the audio quality lives up. I’m just so stoked that Toyota and JBL went above and beyond to add this thing to a truck built for adventure. It’s perfect for those who want to listen to some music after driving out to their campsite.
Automakers! Do more things like this!