2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road review: A properly rugged midsize truck

For 16 years, the Toyota Tacoma has sat atop the midsize pickup truck gross sales charts thanks partially to its sterling popularity and glorious resale worth. Even because the midsize truck class has grown in recent times to to incorporate a reborn Ford Ranger and new Jeep Gladiator, the Toyota continues to rule the roost with a Tacoma lineup that encompasses greater than 30 configurations all providing attractiveness, loads of utility and correct on- and off-road capabilities. And after spending every week with what’s now a 6-year-old truck, I’m reminded once more of all of the issues that contribute to the Tacoma’s lasting enchantment. 

Don’t Like

  • Limited headroom
  • Not nice gasoline economic system
  • Gets expensive

Rugged appears to be like

Even although the current-generation Tacoma is getting outdated, it is nonetheless a lovely rig. The blockier appears to be like are much more beefed up on my TRD Off-Road tester with a really cool Army Green paint job and contrasting black fender trim. Throw in slick 16-inch wheels wrapped in meaty Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure tires, black tube steps and TRD skid plates, and this truck appears to be like greater than able to play within the filth.

Inside the Taco, the squared-off sprint continues the rugged design theme, and far of the cabin is constructed from acres of onerous, properly grained plastics which are simple to wash and may look good for years to come back. Don’t fear, it isn’t all onerous plastic on a regular basis, with key touchpoints just like the steering wheel and shift knob wrapped in leather-based and armrests lined in padded vinyl. The entrance seat cushions are agency and their minimal bolstering permits them to accommodate quite a lot of physique varieties.

As a shorter 5-foot, 6-inch individual, I’ve zero issues with area or discovering a cushty seating place behind the Tacoma’s wheel, nevertheless, I can see why my taller co-workers have had issues here. There’s not a ton of headroom in both row and rear legroom in my Double Cab tester is not palatial. Again, if 4 or 5 Jon Wongs must go someplace, they will be tremendous. Four or 5 Craig Coles or Andrew Kroks, nevertheless, goes to be a distinct and fewer comfy story.

Storage area is admirable with massive door pockets, middle console cubbies, a decent-sized middle armrest console, mammoth glove field compartment and a pair of hidden bins beneath the rear seat’s decrease cushions. Of course, there’s the 5-foot-long mattress out again, fitted with a molded liner and tie-down bedrail that’ll certainly come in useful for residence enchancment provide or flat pack furnishings runs.

Adequate tech

Most Tacoma fashions characteristic an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Base Tacoma SR fashions are the one ones that do not have this display and as an alternative get a 7-inch unit, whereas goodies resembling Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa are lastly customary throughout the board. In addition, my tester comes with a JBL audio setup, navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth.

Nothing particular to have a look at, but it surely’s obtained customary Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The TRD Off-Road’s 8-inch touchscreen does take a noticeable second to modify between menu screens and calculate navigation routes. The menu layouts themselves are easy to work by, however removed from visually riveting. My favourite facet of the system is that Toyota maintains the bodily shortcut buttons that flank each side of the display to simply get to essentially the most used menus like the house, audio and map screens.

To juice up any good gadgets, the TRD Off-Road has a 12-volt outlet and wi-fi cost pad on the base of the middle console, whereas there are USB-A and USB-C ports within the middle armrest. Unfortunately, backseat passengers have no energy ports inside simple attain.

On the protection tech entrance, the Toyota Safety Sense suite of options is customary situation on all Tacomas. That consists of automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise management, lane-departure warning and auto excessive beams. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts can be found as choices and put in on my TRD Off-Road.

The Tacoma’s cabin has quite a lot of energy factors up entrance, however nothing inside simple attain in again.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Rides like a truck

Toyota affords two engines within the Tacoma, with a base 2.7-liter I4 churning out 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque offering sufficient energy. The TRD Off-Road and different larger trims include a 3.5-liter V6 making 278 hp and 265 lb-ft. The V6 affords adequate grunt off the road however feels essentially the most energetic from roughly 3,500 rpm on up, making simple sufficient work of expressway merging and passing. And when it is time to do actual work, my check truck can pull as much as 6,400 kilos with a payload ranking of 1,155 kilos.

Traditionalists will probably be happy to know that Tacomas could be had with a six-speed handbook transmission, however my tester is outfitted with an optionally available six-speed automated that helps return a far-from-spectacular EPA-estimated 18 mpg within the metropolis and 22 mpg on the freeway. In actual world testing, I noticed 19 mpg.

For essentially the most half, the gearbox returns fluid, quick-enough and well-timed shifts becoming for a pickup. However, sometimes a rogue, clunky downshift occurs when slowing down and getting again on the throttle earlier than coming to an entire cease.

Bilstein shocks give the Tacoma TRD Off-Road a leg up when venturing off pavement.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The spotlight to the Tacoma TRD Off-Road is all of the {hardware} to make it deal with higher, properly, off-road. That listing consists of part-time four-wheel-drive (two-wheel-drive can also be obtainable), a locking rear differential, specifically tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, Goodyear tires, hill-start help and Crawl Control that is basically low-speed off-road cruise management to let drivers concentrate on steering by rock obstacles. 

Unfortunately, the extent of my off-roading includes rolling on unpaved heaps, however I can say that it’s not half unhealthy on street. Sure, issues get uneven over bumps earlier than the physique recovers and round corners the Tacoma does not noticeably flop round. The steering is direct (for a truck), the brakes are sturdy and grabby at first and there is some tire noise to talk off, however all advised, the Tacoma is  utterly affordable for every day drives. If on-road experience high quality is a prime precedence, possibly do not buy the TRD Off-Road trim. Or possibly go buy a Honda Ridgeline as an alternative.

How I’d spec it

As a lot as I really like the appears to be like of the Tacoma TRD Pro and the cool issue of realizing it may go nearly wherever off street, the $45,000 base price ticket hooked up to the king-of-the-hill mannequin is steep. Instead, I’d follow an Army Green TRD Off-Road Double Cab with four-wheel drive and a 5-foot mattress like my check truck. I’d even preserve the automated transmission since it would be a every day driver, with a value that begins at $38,705 together with vacation spot. 

This Tacoma TRD Off-Road as-tested stickers for nearly $47,000.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

From there, I’ll throw on a $2,790 Premium Audio and Navigation package deal that additionally consists of the Technology Package for must-haves resembling blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, nicer audio system and LED headlights to interchange the usual Tacoma halogen setup. To additional costume the skin and add perform, I need the $469 oval tube steps, $499 TRD entrance skid plate, $160 black emblem overlays and $129 mudguards. And lastly, inside I’ll pony up $169 for all-weather rubber flooring mats, bringing my Tacoma’s backside line to $42,921. Far from low-cost, but it surely’s cheaper than the $46,894 truck pictured right here.

True to its roots

While some on the Roadshow workers proceed to be baffled on the Tacoma’s reputation, I believe I’ve an excellent understanding of why it is so profitable. Besides reliability and resale, the Tacoma is an easy and simple truck. It appears to be like like a truck, drives like a truck and affords respectable towing and hauling capabilities, whereas packing sufficient creature comforts to make it livable. Nothing extra. Nothing much less.

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