A mid-size off-road monster is born.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens, some stock photos included
Pricing: 2017 Toyota Tacoma
Base price (4×4 Doublecab V6 trim): $40,445
Options: $12,850 TRD Pro package
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $55,155
One of the world’s most reliable, robust, capable and long-lived trucks, the Tacoma was updated last year. This year, you can order one with the wild new TRD Pro package. Let’s have a look!
The Tacoma garners a bit of attention as it is, but this TRD Pro package really grabbed a lot of eyeballs. Plenty of onlookers from the sidewalk, and nearly unanimous thumbs-ups from other Tacoma drivers who I’d often see weaving through traffic to pull up closer so they could get a better look. I got a number of questions at the gas station from interested people too, which was a bit surprising – I didn’t think this vehicle would get as much interest as it did.
The Tacoma looks tough and athletic already, but this TRD Pro version definitely looks awesome, and the Cement Grey Metallic colour is perfect for it. There’s a highly visible TRD Pro badge on the front doors, and another one on the tail gate. The package also comes with black head light and tail light bezels, and some wicked Rigid Industries LED fog lights.
The black 16-inch TRD Pro alloy wheels look really, really good and definitely completed the visual package. They are wearing substantial 265/70-sized boots, ready to turn off the road and to take on anything you want to throw at them.
Once you’ve handled the Tacoma’s high step-in height, you will appreciate the fantastic heated leather TRD Pro seats. They are comfortable and incredibly well bolstered, making for a secure perch from which to tackle your off-road adventures. This special trim package net you some handsome stitching on the seats too. If you’re not familiar with it, the Tacoma’s car-like driving position remains the same, with the driver sticking his legs and feet toward the front rather than the sitting-on-a-chair feeling you get in most trucks.
You’ll find hard plastics throughout. Normally I complain about this, particular when we’re discussing a $50,000-plus vehicle, but in the Tacoma it makes more sense. The surfaces are easily wiped clean, and I suspect Tacomas get more dirty and dusty than the average vehicle does. I’m OK with the materials in this truck.
The dash is home to the standard Toyota touchscreen – the interface is simple and works pretty well, and navigation is included. The stereo isn’t that great but as you’ll soon read, you won’t hear it very often anyway. A dual-zone climate control system keeps things comfortable. Driver assistance tech is very limited at this point – you get a rear-view camera and blind-spot monitoring, and that’s it.
The Tacoma’s rear seat has never been its strong suit, and there’s nothing new to report here. Adults won’t be very comfortable back here, and there’s simply nothing going on in terms of comfort or convenience. Flip up the seat cushions and you can access lockers which is a great place to secure your stuff, and there’s a powered rear sliding window.
I like lots of places to put my things, and the Tacoma does a good job in this department. There are good door bins, a sizeable glove compartment, an open bin under the centre stack and a big carpeted bin (with a 12V plug) under the armrest lid.
The Tacoma’s box is a nice size. It’s big enough to achieve real work tasks, but not big enough to impede this truck’s mission to remain firmly in the mid-size class. I loved the bright LED work light and the 100/400W plug in the box, which is switchable from the dash.
The removable, locking tail gate with the soft open is solid. There are strong tie-down points in the cargo bed, and four tie-down cleats that can be moved along the deck rail system for infinite positioning flexibility. I liked the two in-bed storage compartments. You can throw 1150 lb (520 kg) worth of payload in there.
Under the Hood
The Tacoma has a 3.5L V6 (putting out 278 HP at 6000 RPM and 265 lb.ft of torque at 4600 RPM), which is mated to a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy is as expected (not great) and I averaged 13 L/100 km which included quite a bit of highway driving during our week with it.
There’s no lack of power off the line, although it’s definitely no powerhouse. It’s happy to get up and go, but I found myself wishing for some more midrange power.
The Tacoma’s ride is OK at best – it’s quite firm and a bit jittery and nervous, but it feel stable at highway speeds. This is the result of the TRD Pro’s Bilstein shocks with a remote reservoir kit and specially tuned coils up front and leaf springs in the rear. The suspension absolutely soaks up the biggest hits and when you turn those huge tires off the beaten path, it eagerly eats up any terrain. It’s a thrill to know it doesn’t really matter where you choose to drive this thing because it will get you through it, unscathed. The undercarriage remains unscathed as well, thanks to skid plates under the transfer case and fuel tank.
It’s obvious that this truck’s off-road abilities are substantial. The standard Tacoma TRD is already a very capable off-road machine, and the TRD Pro takes it up another notch. Of course, the 4×4 is shift-on-the-fly, using a rotary knob, and there’s a true rear differential lock. Electronic help is everywhere, including MTS/Crawl (Multi-Terrain select) with 5 settings.
The brakes (and yes, folks, the Tacoma still has drum brakes in the back!) are exceptionally effective. They seem a bit grabby around town until you adjust your driving style, but off-road, they are perfect. Easy modulation, quick adjustments and the ability to inch forward is exactly in line with this truck’s mission statement.
The TRD Pro package also throws in a stainless steel exhaust (with a very nice tail pipe finisher). This makes a huge difference in the amount of noise you’ll hear, and frankly, while I enjoyed stepping on it and hearing the roar occasionally, I wouldn’t want to live with it. It became annoying on a regular basis because there was a resonance right between about 1500 and 2500 RPM (where the Tacoma loves to spend most of its time), and it easily drowns out conversation. Thankfully things quiet down at highway speeds, but around town, I ended up wishing it was less throaty.
If you’re pulling things, you’ll like the Taco’s 6500 lb (2950 kg) towing capacity. It comes with a trailer hitch (with a 7-pin wire harness) and trailer sway control.
A nifty detail – all Tacoma models come equipped with GoPro camera mounts on the windshield. It’s located right near the rear-view mirror and allows you to capture every moment of adventure, successful or not.
The Tacoma is a legend and for good reason. It has stuck to a simple mission statement and has always done that well. It remains a solid buy, and the resale value is astronomical on these trucks.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was low, as she’s not a big fan of smaller, purpose-built trucks. But she’s about as far away from this vehicle’s intended demographic as it can be.
If you’re looking for a small truck, the Tacoma remains the champ in my opinion. Competent and capable, it delivers on everything it promises to do. It should prove to be reliable too. Two things though – Toyota’s TRD Off-Road package contains nearly all the off-road bits that the TRD Pro package I reviewed features, and you’ll save about $10,000. Yes, the TRD Pro wheels and visual additions look fantastic, but they don’t look $10,000 fantastic. If you’re OK without some of the extreme stuff, like the remote reservoir for the shocks, etc. you’ll be just fine without opting for this ridiculously overpriced option package.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Toyota Canada.
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