Ah, the Fourth of July, when colorful fireworks displays commemorate America’s declaration of independence. If you’ve never taken in the spectacle from the back of a pickup, you haven’t lived — and one of the best trucks to do this from is the Toyota Tacoma. Boasting a generous bed welcoming a big cozy blanket and the company of some friends, an optional cargo divider is addable to prevent possessions from sliding around on the drive to the viewing spot, as well as a 120-volt power supply to plug-in electronics. We detail other features, and throw in two extra vehicle suggestions below.
Providing a stylish alternative to other domestic products on the market, the made-in-America Tacoma is built to handle outdoor adventures like sky gazing. Both a two-door Access Cab or four-door Double Cab is offered, and each can be had with a 73.7-inch-long bed, although the former is also sold in a 60.5-inch configuration. Made from sheet-molded composite deck and walls, not only is the bed 10 percent lighter than steel, but is able to accommodate a few people, food, gear and not look any worse for wear afterwards.
Navigating to a destination off-the-beaten-path is no problem either. Standard double-wishbone front suspension and leaf rear boasting outboard-mounted gas shocks easily soak up whatever the road throws at it. The 2.7-liter four-cylinder motor makes 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, or upgrade to the Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 for more oomph and the ability to bundle a Tow Package capable of pulling along up to 6,800 pounds.
Suggesting a MINI to watch fireworks in might sound a little puzzling, until you find out the Countryman is the biggest vehicle produced by the brand, measuring approximately 70 inches wide, 170 inches long (nearly eight inches longer than the outgoing car) and 61 inches tall. Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the second-gen version introduces a new Picnic Bench accessory, which is a cushion that folds out from underneath the storage floor and drapes over the rear bumper effectively turning the hatch area into a two-person bench seat.
Available ultra-bright LED headlamps and ALL4 all-wheel drive get occupants safely to their location. Consumers may select from a number of different power trains, our personal favorite is the boisterous 192-horsepower Cooper S trim mated to a six-speed manual or eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
Few segments can claim to be a jack-of-all-trades like the wagon. Take for example the VW SportWagen taking the great drivability of the Golf and mixing in the utility of a compact SUV. Want to fit 30.4 cubic-feet of stuff behind the rear seats (or 66.5 when the second row is folded down)? No problem. How about carving the canyons piloting a 1.8T turbocharged engine, sitting on the latest stiff and quiet MWB chassis? It will do that too.
Most importantly, a massive 12.7 square-foot panoramic sunroof gives an amazing view of fireworks overhead from the comfort of the spacious, well-equipped cabin.