Toyota Tacoma is a beast. Seriously, there is no better way to describe this massive truck. The vehicle is strong and reliable (courtesy of powerful V6 engine), an excellent choice for towing, handless well on and off-road, and, honestly, looks pretty sweet.
The only thing we can take away from this ideal picture is that, as we mentioned, the track is massive and features high ground clearance, so entering and leaving the vehicle can prove to be a real chore in some cases.
Still, this problem can be easily solved. How? Well, you only need to check a couple of best running boards for Toyota Tacoma, find your ideal match, and mount these useful footboard extensions to your truck.
Let us help you with the first step.
The 9 best running boards for Toyota Tacoma in 2020
1. Tyger Auto TG-AM2T20048 Star Armor Kit
We have to admit one thing about this product for the get-go – we really dig how this product looks. Remember, the running boards are not always used to protect your vehicle from side bumps and allow you more natural entrance.
In some cases, they are simply used as a fashion statement. Well, if you want to turn your Toyota Tacoma into a mean, side-armored beast that will dominate the local roads, Tyger Auto TG-AM2T20048 is a package for you.
Who can say no to these beautiful, textured metallic bars? Don’t know, but don’t list ourselves amongst these people.
But, the biggest strength of this product doesn’t lie in its look no matter how great it may be. The 2-inch diameter tubes used for build are truly heavy-duty, and the matte finish provides excellent traction even when the surface becomes wet. There is no way that your feet are going to accidentally slip in the case of rainfall.
Finally, we have to give a shout-out to a durable one-piece design that lends the boards a great deal of much-needed durability. So, we can say that these two units come as close to perfect nerf bars for Toyota Tacoma as it gets.
Why not perfect?
Well, the bars are not entirely resistant to rust. We strongly advise you to clean them after every rain. Also, installing is not as easy as we would like (one of the bolts does not line up perfectly).
Still, this is one rock-solid package.
- Durable and good-looking design
- Matte finish
- Performs well in wet conditions
- Prone to rust
2. TAC Side Steps
In direct comparison to the previous product, TAC Side Steps features a much more streamlined and simplified design – this time, instead of complex and robust design, you get only one 4-inch diameter tube at each side of your vehicle.
This structural downgrade definitely has its effect on the price of the package – these Toyota Tacoma running boards are sold for half the price you are asked to pay for Tyger Auto TG-AM2T20048, which is excellent.
But, does durability and build quality of the bars suffer in the process?
Well, honestly, not that much. Sure, the product could’ve been way more robust and offer stronger support/protection. Still, even with the things as they are, we haven’t noticed any cracks, bending, or similar deformations.
The finish of the boards is also exceptional. Matte surface, in combination with UV-resistant non-slip poly, offers excellent traction and makes sure that you won’t fly off the rails in the case of rain. In terms of rust resistance, we can say the bars even outclass the previous mention.
What are the downsides?
As we already mentioned, no matter how good the materials are, narrowing construction down to only one bar on each side of the vehicle in some cases simply won’t be enough.
The other thing we are not exactly thrilled about is the quality of items you get in the package. You can just as well throw away everything you get except for the bars and hit the hardware store.
- Great price-value ratio
- Good build quality
- Tactile non-slip surface
- Slim design
- Poor mounting hardware
3. APS iBoard Running Boards
It doesn’t take more than a passing look at this product to see that design is probably one of its biggest flaws. We don’t want to hint these side steps for Toyota Tacoma look bad – mounting them won’t damage the look of your precious truck.
But, they are as generic as it gets and do nothing to draw the attention of curious customers – not even the slightest touch or exciting upgrade.
So yeah, APS iBoard Running Boards are not quite the lookers. How do they perform?
Here the boards make a much stronger case in their favor. For a start, the product is made from hard-as-nails aluminum wrapped in rubber – a combination both incredibly durable and rust-free. We tested the pads’ integrity with different loads, and they haven’t cracked or deformed.
The other great thing about using rubber as an exterior surface is that this material rocks when the rains start falling. Using these boards in wet conditions is safe, comfortable, and completely slip-free.
And to round up the good things we have to say about this package, we have to mention the incredibly convenient low profile design. Lowering the pads even for an inch makes them far more useful.
In terms of drawbacks, we have already pointed out the stock design. The other thing you have to keep in mind is that, as durable as it can be, rubber is very prone to scratches and damage. Frequently driving over rough terrains will make the pads awfully bruised.
- Strong structural integrity
- Non-slip surface
- Low profile
- The surface is easily damaged
- Bland design
4. MaxMate Custom Fit 2005-2020 Toyota Tacoma
Now, here we have a pair of nerf bars for a Toyota Tacoma that tries to do something genuinely different, at least in terms of design. If you like your truck clad in iron and chrome, the stainless steel design of this tube will fit your vehicle like a well-tailored glove.
So, hats down to designers for pulling off such a memorable look on such a tight budget. That brings us to the second thing we want to point out. Although they look truly stunning, these might be the best running boards for Toyota owners who are operating on a tight budget.
But, this is the point where things start to go slightly downhill, which can be expected from the budget units like this.
For a start, the stainless steel used for the build is far from the most durable option on the market. The bars offer solid support, but we wouldn’t load them with more than 300 lbs of weight.
The second thing we found very concerning (even more than light build as a matter of fact) is that the plastic pads you use to step into the vehicle are far too small and narrow. Bigger persons will be able to use them only with their toes.
That, combined with the fact that bars sink too far underneath the vehicle when they are mounted, makes the bars very inconvenient to use. That kinda defeats their very purpose.
- Excellent looking piece of hardware
- Very affordable
- Solid support
- Narrow foot pads
- Sink too far underneath the vehicle
5. OEDRO 6 inch Side Step
This product looks very much like the first entry we have mentioned on the list. In the weird case of coincidence, it suffers from many of the same problems. This time though, they are way more pronounced. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Oedro Side Step is one beautiful (at least at first glance), robust and reliable piece of hardware that will satisfy the customers that want the best possible side protection for their four-wheelers. The multi-bar design also provides excellent support, so you don’t need to worry about overloading the units with excessive weight.
The steps you get mounted on the bars are very decent. They feature a pleasant non-slip surface (not the best on the market but more than functional nevertheless), and the 6 inches of real estate do provide enough surface even for larger feet.
So, in terms of the core running board performance, Oedro Side Steps does its job more than competently. Still, everything around this performance seems to be compromised.
For a start, the bars feature pretty sloppy craftsmanship that ruins otherwise appealing matte design. The bars will look worn out from the first day of use. If you like your vehicle looking polished, this is definitely not the best choice for you.
Also, mounting the bars is a chore, and the instructions are atrocious. In the end, we finally had to give up and drill new holes in our test model – a thing we haven’t been thrilled about.
- Robust design
- Great support
- Solid pads
- Poor craftsmanship
- Punishingly hard to mount
6. Smittybilt T0678CC Black Powdercoat 2″ Nerf Steps Side Bar
Smittybuilt is a name that doesn’t need too much introduction in the circles of avid car lovers. Their products are usually a real joy to use, and we are always glad to get our hands on one of them. We are happy to report that T0678CC, for the most part, stays true to this tradition.
Sure, the product is far from ideal, but it still makes one incredibly worthwhile purchase.
At first glance, people may be slightly put off by the fact that the boards feature only two main 2-inch tubes with footpads for each pair of doors. That looks slim and insubstantial as hell. Fortunately enough, one-piece design combined with powerful 100% wielded construction makes sure that you will be able to use the product without worrying about the loading weight.
The very pads may be slim, but the designers left enough room between them and the main bars so they can be efficiently used. Some people in our team have quite substantial pairs of feet, but they had no problem climbing the vehicle.
This job is made even easier by the pads’ smart non-slip surface that successfully combines convenience and durability.
But, we can’t deny that the unit is somewhat hard to mount (poor alignment of holes), and that surface of the bars is too glossy and polished for our taste.
Still, if you are ready to overlook these flaws, you will get one truly remarkable pair of surfing boards.
- Beautiful slim design
- Durable materials
- Reliable pads
- Hard to mount
- The finish could be better
7. N-FAB Nerf Step
N-Fab nerf step follows a lot of the same design guidelines as the previous product Smittybilt. This time, though, everything seems much more robust, substantial, and overall more reliable. That is a considerable compliment taking into consideration that the previous product was an already exceptional piece of hardware.
Making this great foundation even more reliable can only improve the customer experience, right? Well yes. At least if you are ready to deal with a $200 price bump. In our opinion, that is simply too much, even though we have noticed a slight performance upgrade.
The thing is slight doesn’t indeed translate to 200 bucks.
The other thing that makes this steep price increase even harder to swallow is that the craftsmanship is not really impeccable. We have noticed way too many sloppy areas on our units to feel comfortable in this price range.
But, putting this aside, these 2-inch diameter bars are hard as nails and provide excellent support regardless of the passengers’ weight. Seriously, 100% welded construction combined with 4-stage powder coating creates the bland that is virtually indestructible and can withstand all weather conditions you throw in its way.
So there you have it – a package that features a couple of slight shortcomings but more than compensates in areas critical for this type of product. If you have enough money to spend and can look past these obstacles, you will be more than satisfied.
- Excellent build quality
- Reliable performance
- A bit sloppy for its price
8. Ajaa 2005-2020 Fit Toyota Tacoma
I think we can all, at this point, agree that in terms of design the running board market is somewhat stale. Sure, you get a couple of chrome-clad surprises here and there, but most of the units follow similar design patterns.
Well, if you are tired of all these similar-looking nerf steps, you will be pleasantly surprised with what Ajaa managed to put on the market.
How to describe these boards? Futuristic? Cutting-edge? Massive? Mean-looking? Why not all these compliments? What’s even better is that two boats on display here, for the most part, sneak under the vehicle. Although you see all the sharp edges, they are not making climbing harder than it was supposed to be.
This story is mostly helped by the fact that pads (equally as sharp and mean-looking as the main bars) are spacious and feature excellent not-slip surfaces.
So, the parts that should stand out do stand out. Others are safely hidden under the vehicle.
Also, we would like to point out that materials on display here are simply excellent – a black matte metal used for the build is as durable as it is good-looking.
What are the drawbacks of this package? Well, as appealing as the overall design is, the fact remains that these bars do not offer too much side protection to the vehicle. Also, the welding is really, really bad. That kinda ruins the overall visual impression.
- Excellent materials
- Futuristic design
- Spacious and reliable pads
- Atrocious welding
9. UFRAME Black Matte Finish 3″ Round tubing Drop Step Side Step Nerf Bar
Finally, we have a pair of excellent running boards coming from Uframe. By coincidence, the package ended up as the last mention of this roundup. In reality, though, these nerf bars are among the best entries we have covered on the list.
So, what do we have here? Well, a familiar single bar (this time the manufacturer used 3-inch diameter bars) design coupled with non-slip foot pads for each pair of doors. All these things work like a charm, although we would like to see more clearance between bars and the pads.
You get enough room for your feet even as it is, but this small issue could be so easily avoided we can’t resist listing it as a drawback.
The other thing we are slightly disappointed with is the mounting mechanism. With the connection points so small and precise, you would expect they would fit Toyota Tacoma to a point. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, which means you will probably need to perform a fair share of drill-work.
And we don’t like drilling our vehicles to death whenever we need to mount a new pair of nerf step bars.
Still, these flaws are not deal-breakers. The bars are still very durable, good-looking, and reliable. When you finally manage to mount them on the vehicle, you will get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. A beautiful black surface improves the overall impression a lot.
- Durable 3-inch diameter bars
- Beautiful matte finish
- Simple yet effective design
- Hard to mount
And we are finally at the end of this roundup of the best running boards for Toyota Tacoma you can currently find in the stores. We are always glad when we can compile the list of products where every one of them can offer something unique to different types of customers.
This was the case with the running boards we covered. All of them are great in their own regard, and all of them are more than worth checking out. So, give them a look and try to find the ideal match for your Toyota Tacoma. Mounting running boards to your truck can only make your life easier.
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I am Dave McCurdy I am the content developer on the ecodrivingusa.com website. I have 6 years of experience in marketing as an automotive major.