In his groundbreaking bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie omitted one key piece of advice: Buy a pickup truck.

Sure, it’s important to smile, remember a person’s name and be a good listener, but let it slip to friends and neighbours you just bought a pickup truck, and you’ll never have to buy another six-pack of beer.

Sure there are alternative modes of transport, but do you really want to strap a load of two-by-fours on to the roof of your $60,000 SUV? How about sliding a pile of interlock and concrete slabs into the back of your plush, carpet-lined minivan?

My tester for the week — the 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Double Cab — came in metallic grey with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) badging on the sides.

I have always found the Tacoma to be a handsome truck. Unlike many ‘compact’ pickups, it does have a presence, and with its big P265/65R mud & snow tires on 17-inch alloys, not to mention the optional hood scoop, the Tacoma looked every bit the serious off-roader. Not that I was headed for the bush anytime soon.

And at nearly 19 feet long and only about eight inches shorter than a full-size Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4x4 Crew Cab, I’m not sure if “compact” fairly describes the Tacoma.

I won’t say the Tacoma is as spacious in back as a full-size sedan, but there’s reasonable room for two adults, three in a pinch.

The Tacoma is available in eight models, starting with the 4x2, four cylinder Access Cab to the 4x4 V6-powered Double Cab. There’s even a 4x2 “tuner”styled truck called the X-Runner, that sits low to the ground and is powered by the same V6 with a six-speed manual.

Up front, the Double Cab is outfitted with sedan-like comforts and amenities. The optional sport seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, and provide a driver’s seat lumbar adjustment. The optional leather-wrapped steering wheel includes audio controls for the in-dash six-disc CD changer, part of the TRD Sport Package.

With the automatic, the SR5 Power Package bumps the Tacoma to $33,300 and adds 16-inch alloys with wheels locks, sliding rear window, cruise control, chrome grille and rear bumper, dual vanity mirrors, auto-dimming rear view mirror with integrated backup camera, keyless entry and more.

I didn’t get a chance this time to take the Tacoma off-road, but our streets and highways offered no shortage of potholes and heaved pavement to test the suspension.

The Tacoma 4x4’s surefootedness is reinforced by standard vehicle stability control, active traction control and automatic disconnecting differential.

2009 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab
Type: Mid-size, four-door pickup truck
Price: (base) $30,870, (as tested with TRD package) $35,980
Engine: 4.0-litre DOHC 24-valve, V6 (236 hp, 266 lb/ft torque)
Fuel economy: 13.4 L/100 km city; 10.1 L/100 km highway

• Sedan-like comforts and amenities
• Off-roading capabilities