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Looking for a midsize truck and not sure which brand to go with? The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most popular midsize trucks on the market, but would is it really a good truck that fits your needs? We wondered the same and looked over the Tacoma, inside and out, to try and help you out.
The current version of the Tacoma is a great truck, with fantastic off-road capabilities for its class. If you’re considering buying used, note that the first two generations of Toyota Tacoma left a lot to be desired in the off-road department. These are great trucks to drive around if you were staying on the pavement, however, the original off-road setups were clunky and prone to issues. It would appear that Toyota has worked all of the kinks out. Even the base model truck with a TRD package is rather impressive off-road.
We’re going to go deeper into the question in this post, so keep reading to learn about the Tacoma and its various features, to see if it’s the right truck for you. How does the Tacoma Stack Up? Is the Toyota Tacoma a good off-road truck? Moreover, this article also takes a look at how the Tundra – Toyota’s Full-size truck – performs. Read on with us to see what we found.
The Toyota Tacoma Comes in different configurations
The Toyota Tacoma has been around forever, or so it seems. Like its predecessors, it has always been tough. The external body design the rugged components, and the electronics packages have always commanded respect. We all know, especially with trucks, that looks aren’t everything. It may look amazing on the outside and not function worth anything. It’s easy enough to see how something performs on the street, but when it has been marketed as a great off-road truck, the expectation is there for you to perform.
To answer this question, you have to consider the different engine sizes and configurations. When it comes to off-road driving, not all trucks are created equal. This includes trucks that have four-wheel drive options when they really should not. From the outside, the design of the Tacoma looks imposing. It looks like a beast ready to pounce. However, what’s under the hood and spinning the tires. Can it live up to its reputation and expectations? That’s where the rubber meets the road no pun intended.
The 2.7-liter 4-cylinder is not going to be a good setup for off-road driving. There is not enough torque. The truck works great for driving up and down the road. The gas mileage is excellent, and the ride is smooth. You can haul small loads with it. However, it surely is not cut out for off-road driving.
Aside from the Tacoma Street package, this is the only one of the lines that have a reasonably comfortable ride on the street. There’s also extraordinarily fuel-efficient and handles well in traffic. If you’re looking to haul small loads and take care of necessary work, this is the truck for you. If you try to do anything more than that, it’s undoubtedly going to leave you wanting more. It’s a good thing that the Tacoma line has so much diversity.
3.5 6 model does come in 4-wheel drive. It certainly has more power than the smaller 4 cylinder — however, the torque difference a lot to be desired. At first, glance that power isn’t there. At least on paper. Many people that drive this particular truck report that it handles just fine off-road. The question to ask here is what type of terrain are you driving it on. It handles well in dirt and loose rock. When it comes to climbing rocks and getting out of tight situations, the standard Tacoma can run into some trouble. If handled well, though, this can hold its reputation off-road. The best advice that we found was to have an idea of what your truck can handle and how to handle it. Mechanically it is up to the task.
The 3.5 liter V6 is the first model to come with the TRD package. This set of features is known as the Toyota Racing development standard off-road package. It comes with beefed-up shocks — a higher clearance and slightly more torque than the street package. If you are going to be driving a Tacoma off-road, this is where you’re going to want to start.
This configuration can climb over rocks and get out of water. It has been said that the new Tacoma has a better off-road truck than it is a daily driver. With all of its advancements, the on-road ride quality isn’t there. If you’re looking for a truck and then this is the way to go.
The 4.0 liter V6 is the cream of the crop. This truck can do it all. This truck is well-suited for hauling small loads off-road. The TRD package in this model hosts the biggest shocks the highest clearance and the absolute most Power that you will get out of a Tacoma. Aside from just the engine models, there are some other things that Toyota development offers that have helped that corner the market. We will cover those next.
The TRD Package
This list is representative of the standard TRD package. Some of the items will vary with the year model of your truck. Toyota made 18-inch wheels standard on all models that the TRD package is offered in the new generation.
The TRD package includes the following features –
- Gear Ratio
- Upgraded suspension
- Terrain Select
- Skid Plates
- LED lights
The gear ratio in the Toyota Tacoma is second to none. The TRD package comes with genuine high and low gear. This option makes the truck much fun to drive off-road. Conversely, this also makes it not much fun to drive on the street. This ability allows the truck to provide Power when and where you need it. Can’t go wrong with that when you leave the pavement.
The TRD off-road edition comes stock with Bilstein shocks. These are the best in the business. This addition helps to balance your ride and absorb whatever terrain you happen to be driving over. They are sturdy and durable.
The Tacoma TRD Edition comes with Kevlar-reinforced tires. These tires are as tough as it gets. This is the same material that combat helmets are made out of for the military. That doesn’t mean you should go driving over glass shards or sharp rocks; you can still puncture them.
This is a very cool option. By turning the selector inside the cab, you can tune your truck to certain terrains. This includes loose gravel and rock, water, hill, and uneven. This is especially helpful if you don’t have much experience driving offroad. It precisely Tunes the truck and suspension the help compensate for changes in the terrain.
You might be thinking, what really? Yes, the new generation Tacoma can come with a snorkel. This allows it to drive through money and lucky water without sucking the water into the engine. If you take it out of the desert, it also helps cut down on the sand in the engine. This is the epitome of Awesomeness for an off-road package. It does not come stock and is only available with specific packages.
The TRD package offers skid plates that cover the fuel tank and the engine. These are designed to protect both systems from damage when’s traversing rocks and other terrains. These are a vast improvement over previous generations that did not have them.
Tundra models with the TRD package offer LED headlights. This is to lessen the risk of damage to them while being driven off-road.
Is The Toyota Tacoma a Good Truck In General?
The Tacoma is an excellent all-around truck. None of The Tacoma lines are considered to be heavy-duty trucks. Most of them are considered quarter ton trucks or light duty. They are not configured to be heavy haulers, nor should they be driven all over the place. The Toyota Tacoma is more at home off-road than it is on the street. The exceptions to this being the 4-cylinder model. There is also a street model. That makes up for all of the areas where the others in the line fall short. Even though it’s a street model, This Tacoma still has a four-wheel drive. They are robust, dependable, and versatile trucks. There is a reason that they’ve been around for over 25 years.
Toyota Tacoma vs. Tundra Off-Road Abilities
Both the Toyota Tacoma and the Toyota Tundra have a great off-road ability. This is mostly like comparing apples to even bigger apples. Both trucks have the same TRD package. The primary difference being that the Tundra is a much larger truck. The Tundra also comes with specialty LED headlights. Both trucks come with 18-inch wheels in the TRD package.
The TRD package is only available in the larger Tundras. That would be the 5.7 liter and up. The newer models of the Tacoma do not come with terrain assist. This has been reserved for the larger, more powerful Tundra. The reality of it is that the Tundra is always going to provide much more power. This makes it perfect for hauling other things off-road such as motorcycles and ATVs. Why you can do this and I took home and we don’t recommend it unless your payload is relatively light. Both of these lines come with that standard Toyota safety and dependability.
If you’re thinking about driving a pick-up truck, check out Is Driving a Pickup Truck Hard? I can definitely say that those who haven’t driven one is going to be a challenge.
Read more: Taking your Toyota Tundra off road? Here’s what you need to know
It’s hard to go wrong with a Toyota truck!