By Paul Strauss
A couple of months back, I had a chance to rough up the new Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport and Off-Road editions in a challenging course of dirt, gravel and mud. Now, I’ve spent a few days driving the TRD Sport 4×4 version in a more typical everyday environment in and around my hometown of Chicago. The good news? This truck is excellent no matter where you drive it.
The TRD Sport is the more aggressively styled of the two TRD Tacoma variants, riding on 17″ two-tone alloy rims, with body-colored fenders, and a big hood scoop – though that’s strictly aesthetic. In addition, the TRD Sport’s suspension is firmer and provides a bit better road feedback instead of the softness that’s preferable for rock crawling and the like. Being that it’s still a body-on-frame truck, I’d describe the ride as rugged, but not harsh. While I didn’t need its part-time 4-wheel drive capability much during my street drive, I did find it very useful for getting over some steep curbs as I headed into a field to capture some photos for this article. Naturally, its 9.4″ ground clearance didn’t hurt either. For the most part, I remained in 2WD mode this time out, which provides a little better gas mileage.
The 278 hp 3.5L V6 under the hood offers very good torque and acceleration, which served me well as I dealt with the typical stop-start traffic, as well as getting onto the highway and passing. Throughout my ride, the Tacoma offered up one of the quietest pickup truck cabins I’ve experienced, with very little road noise or vibration, and only minimal wind noise. I found the Tacoma’s steering to be spot on, offering a good balance between feedback and ease, which I can only assume would be very helpful if you’re pulling a trailer or large load in the bed.
The interior of the TRD Sport offers good comfort and utility, with up plenty of storage in the form of a large armrest console box, door pockets, hidden storage behind the rear seats, and a good spot to fit most smartphones. The cabin materials are fairly basic, with mostly plastic and fabric surfaces, making them functional, but more utilitarian than upscale. Buttons, knobs and vents are all well placed, and I had no complaints or confusion about them. The power moonroof overhead was nice to have too, especially to enjoy the last couple of Fall like days left here in the Midwest.
Up front, a 7″ touchscreen provides easy access to music, navigation, and apps, and my loaner was upgraded with an excellent JBL sound system. There are lots of other modern conveniences, including a backup camera, keyless pushbutton start and vehicle entry, a tire pressure monitor system, along with upgrades like dual zone climate control, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic headlamps. For those of you with a phone that supports wireless charging, it’s got a Qi charging pad too.
The dual cab model I drove has good legroom and headroom for up to three rear seat passengers, and the seats can be folded forward to provide a storage area. Out back, there’s lots to like about the bed. Every surface has been covered with a highly durable composite material, and there’s an adjustable tie-down rail on each side, along with storage boxes to hold small objects like tools or hardware, and a 120-volt power outlet towards the back of the bed. There’s also bright nighttime illumination for the bed area. My truck was also equipped with a folding hard tonneau cover which is easy to fold up, and can’t be opened if the liftgate is locked.
While I loved driving the Tacoma off-road, that’s an environment most of us will rarely get to play in. On the other hand, driving a pickup in the city and country, running errands, transporting items, and sitting in traffic is a much more likely scenario. I’m happy to say that the Tacoma provides a great experience in those everyday scenarios too. It’s surprisingly quiet and comfortable, while still plenty rugged to take on big work tasks. Toyota has a real winner on its hands with the new Tacoma, a vehicle which was already at the top of the KBB best resale value heap. I can only imagine the new model will be in greater demand.
While you can get into an entry level Tacoma for as little as $23,300 (USD), the fully tricked-out TRD Sport 4×4 model reviewed here had a sticker price of $38.995, and a base price of $33,730.
Source:: 95 Octane