Given Toyota’s performance heritage and existing lineup of all-terrain-themed models, its introduction of a hard-core version of the new Tacoma pickup is hardly surprising. Yet here it is in the form of the 2017 TRD Pro, which goes on sale later this year as the successor to a similar model based on the last-generation Tacoma.
As with that previous Taco special, as well as the current 4Runner and Tundra TRD Pro models, this new truck represents a concerted effort to ratchet up the truck’s off-road capability. But don’t be fooled. While it does deliver on its mission, the TRD makeover is less comprehensive—albeit less expensive—than the one applied by Ford to create the beastly F-150 Raptor.
Locked and Loaded
This latest Tacoma will be available only as a Double Cab Off-Road 4×4 model with the shorter five-foot bed, with power supplied by Toyota’s familiar 278-hp 3.5-liter V-6. Exterior color choices are limited to three (Cement, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Super White), but you will have the option of either a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission. Along with the TRD Pro’s characteristic TOYOTA block-lettered grille and black 16-inch wheels shod with Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, a host of other exterior highlights remind you that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill Tacoma. These include TRD Pro badges on the front doors and tailgate, a black hood scoop and fender flares, blacked-out head- and taillight bezels, a TRD Pro front skid plate, and special LED fog lights.
But what really makes this Taco a TRD Pro is its suspension and related off-road equipment. Unique TRD coil springs provide an additional inch of suspension lift up front, while special progressive-rate leaf springs out back aid articulation and bump absorption. A heavy-duty, 2.5-inch Fox internal-bypass damper sits at each corner and replaces the strengthened Bilstein shocks installed on the previous-gen Tacoma TRD Pro. There’s also an electronic-locking rear differential; a limited-slip center diff in the part-time four-wheel-drive system’s electronic transfer case; a standard towing package; a 130-amp alternator; and coolers for the engine oil, power steering, and automatic transmission.
While manual-shifting versions make do with a specially tuned traction-control system for optimizing grip without cutting throttle input, automatic models get all the bells and whistles, including hill-start assist, a five-mode Multi-Terrain Select traction-control system, and Crawl Control (essentially low-speed, off-road cruise control).
Nice Rig, Bro
As with all new Tacomas, the TRD Pro has a standard GoPro camera mount for immortalizing all of your off-road heroics—and mistakes—as well as a decent amount of additional standard equipment: a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a TRD shift knob and floor mats, Toyota’s Entune app-based infotainment system, rear-parking assist, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. The four-way-adjustable black leather front seats are heated and have TRD Pro logos on the headrests, and the 4.2-inch color driver’s display in the cluster features integrated tilt and incline gauges.
Pricing for the 2017 TRD Pro has yet to be released, but the 2016 Tacoma model on which it’s based (Double Cab, short-box, V-6 Off-Road 4×4) starts at $33,000. A comparable previous-generation Tacoma TRD Pro cost roughly $37K, so you can expect the new truck to nudge up from there. Watch this space for a down-and-dirty first drive just as soon as we can slide behind the wheel.