Toyota is tuning up its off-road, non-street cred with new TRD Pro packages available on 2015 Tundras, 4Runners and Tacomas, and after getting our hands on one, its obvious why this is the truck of choice from desert smugglers to U.S. Special Forces.
2015’s most significant upgrade over previous TRD models is the Bilstein shock-equipped suspension, which is tough enough for off-road terrain yet cushioned enough for highway cruising (the previous Baja models were a little tight and jerky). The truck effortlessly bounded over sand dunes, cut across wet coastlines and barreled through dirt roads without sacrificing responsive control or rider comfort.
A large portion of Tacoma’s impressive off-road capability comes from its 4×4 drivetrain (which it shifted into seamlessly, instantly increasing control) and 16-inch black beadlock-style aluminum wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires, which gave a rare slip in dry sand but never failed to bite dirt. The larger-than-average tires for a truck of its size perfectly compliment the aggressive-looking 2015.
The 4.0-liter V-6 has just the right amount of give before transitioning to serious acceleration on rough terrain, ensuring a rare spin out that never left me stuck in place. Though the five-speed automatic transmission left me yearning for the manual, it undoubtedly shifted more smartly than I would have over unexpected dips and dives.
Taking to D.C.’s busy city streets or wide beltways was no less satisfying. The acceleration is a little on the light side at first, but once the pedal’s halfway to the floor, the truck responds aptly, and never forced me out of the passing lane (nor did it keep heads from turning to find the source of the truck’s throaty cat-back exhaust).
Our truck’s metallic burnt orange finish and blacked-out bumpers, grill, badging and bed turned just as many heads, and I had no shortage of roadside compliments from downtown D.C. to the Maryland coast.
The Tacoma’s double-cab black and brushed aluminum interior is streamlined and spacious, comfortably seating a crew of four during an hours-long ride to the beach and back. The 6.1-inch touchscreen, navigation and satellite radio JBL seven-speaker stereo kept us (for the most part) on-track and entertained for the whole ride, with only minor satellite hiccups between turnoffs.
Compared to Toyota’s full-size trucks, the Tacoma’s smaller bed isn’t roomy enough to haul all the tools and materials for your house renovation, and it doesn’t have the optimal size and strength for moving serious earth if a construction site is your daily gig. You can probably haul most of your friends to your weekend outings, but packing in just one ATV will eat up the entire bed.
That being said, the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro (which prices around $38,000 for our model) is perfect for weekend urban or suburban escapes, with just enough room to throw a couple dirt bikes, surf boards, sleeping bags or coolers in the back and jet to the local lake in speedy, sporty comfort, convenience and style.
For those interested in a serious desert drive, check out The Fast Lane Truck’s video review of the Tacoma here: