The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is built for those enthusiast that take off road adventures seriously. Beyond the logos and decals there are a lot of extra components that makes this truck something that will take you a bit further down the trail.
Out friends at Toyota provided one so I could take it to where I thought may show some weakness. There are many interesting trails within two hours of Los Angeles. One that I find interesting in #6533 that starts near Oro Grande just off Route 66. This trail has deep sand, hard rocks, deep ruts, and some steep hill climbs. Add that the average temp is around 110 in July and you have a "test" track for the motor, transmission and suspension. The TRD Pro version of this popular truck comes with FOX off-road shocks, progressive-rate off road leaf springs, and a special tuning to take the worst roads. Immediately you can feel that toughness as the Tacoma is stiff as it rolls. It comes equipped with a front metal skid place to protect the bottom of the engine and a package of LED lights to enhance the night driving.
It is the best Tacoma 4x4 I have tested to date. And the technology that helps you navigate difficult roads is impressive. The 4WDemand system uses an electronically controlled transfer case and a locking differential. There is also an auto LSD (limited slip diff) and with the touch of a button you can make the Tacoma crawl up or down the hill.
The engine is an option from the 2.7 standard motor in the regular Tacoma. It is a 3.5-liter V6 motor that employs Toyota’s innovative VVT-iW technology and Atkinson-cycle combustion to maximize efficiency. Toyota’s D-4S fuel injection system incorporates both direct injection and port injectors. The bottom line is an impressive 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of peak torque. Both engines can be teamed to a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i). Since there is not a lot of difference on the price I suggest the 3.5 version. Toyota offers a manual transmission, but I believe the 6 speed auto works best. This Tacoma I drove came with the special 16 inch high-strength alloy that are 1 inch wider to accept All-terrain tires with Kevlar inserts from Goodyear. Not a tire for the freeway .
The TRD Pro is very good for going off-road. Which means there is a compromise in ride quality when you are in the asphalt. It also feels stiff for every day commuting. There was a rattle coming from the rear doors and I could hear some squeaking when going over rough spots and that got my attention. Not sure if it was only on this test vehicle or an assembly issue. I have reached to Toyota to clarify. The other compromise is the fuel consumption that I felt was poor. But you cannot have everything. This Toyota is definitely worth it if you are serious about going places far from the city.