By Derek Price
After a complete redesign last year, Toyota did the one thing that could make its new midsize pickup even cooler: release a sweet looking, highly capable TRD Pro version for off-road enthusiasts.
Much more than an appearance package, the TRD Pro is built for people who take off-roading seriously. Its starting price of nearly $41,000 emphasizes the point, charging a serious premium over the base Tacoma’s $24,120 sticker.
What you get for that price, though, is virtually two trucks in one.
On the road, the TRD Pro doesn’t beat you up much more than the standard Tacoma. It benefits from the new platform’s quiet body and better refinement, making it surprisingly comfortable on the highway.
Leave the pavement, though, and you see exactly what you’re paying for in this pickup.
Long suspension travel, thick skid plates and tough, grippy tires let it easily power over terrain that would leave other stock trucks limping away with damage.
The hardware goodies include:
— Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear tires
— FOX Internal Bypass shocks
— A thick aluminum skid plate in front
— LED fog lights from Rigid Industries
— 16-inch black alloy wheels
— Specially tuned springs that give it a 1-inch lift
Overall, it feels like the kind of truck an enthusiast would build on their own, using some of the same aftermarket suppliers that are popular with hobbyists.
The difference, and the real benefit from buying it from the factory, is the engineering and tuning work that went into this truck. The TRD Pro feels so well-sorted from the factory, particular in its transition between off-road and on-road driving, that its decades of experience show through.
Toyota may be better known for its reliable Camry and Corolla cars, but it’s also built a lineage of hardcore off-roaders that rival the best in the world. If you see a truck in the deserts of Africa or the jungles of South America, there’s a good chance it’s going to have a Toyota badge.
Actually, make that a “TOYOTA” badge.
While most modern Toyotas use the brand’s planetary-looking logo, the TRD Pro spells it out in all caps just like those old-school trucks that enthusiasts love. It’s the kind of detail that shows the brand cares about the rabid 4Runner, Tacoma and Land Cruiser fans who notice that sort of thing.
Aside from the sheer capability of this machine, my favorite aspect of the TRD Pro is the way it looks. Yes, that’s superficial. But when you spend over $40,000 for a midsize pickup, you want it to look spectacular, and this truck does the part. It looks like it’s playing a role in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller.
And while I rarely mention the color of a vehicle, the Tacoma deserves an exception.
Gray is a hard color to get right. Try painting it on your walls, and you’ll see it usually ends up looking too blue or yellow or red. It’s not a simple color.
But somehow, Toyota absolutely nailed the right gray in a hue they call Concrete. It’s one of the best looking paint colors I’ve seen in years, and it’s only available on the TRD Pro for 2017.
Just like Toyota, you might be under the impression that Concrete gray is boring.
Just like the Tacoma TRD Pro, it’s not.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro ($42,760). Options: Paint protection film ($395), first aid kit ($30), emergency assistance kit ($59), bed mat ($120), deck rail camera mount ($56), mud guards ($129), mini tie down loop ($45), universal tablet holder ($99), glass breakage sensor ($299), wheel locks ($80). Price as tested (including $940 destination charge): $45,012
Wheelbase: 127.4 in.
Length: 212.3 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 70.6 in.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (278 hp, 265 ft. lbs.)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 18 city, 23 highway
Why buy it?
Its a highly capable off-road beast with the looks to match. It’s surprisingly refined on the road, too, as it benefits from the Tacoma lineup’s recent overhaul.