The Tacoma has always been the small truck golden child from Toyota. Over the years its popularity, and proportions, have grown. While the standard issue Tacoma has always been competent enough, any off-roading purist knows that the TRD package is a must-have for when the going really gets tough. Today, the same rules apply more than ever.
Unlike the American approach, Toyota tends to the Tacoma’s ability to tackle the toughest conditions first. They seem to design the Tacoma as a 4×4 first, and then removed all the expensive off-roading equipment for the rear-wheel-drive versions second. For example, to optimize ground clearance, their aren’t indentations in the footwell. The cab’s floor rides directly atop the frame and is almost completely flat. This is helpful when you find yourself carefully crawling over boulders, because it keeps the underside of the Tacoma as high as possible. Unfortunately it creates an awkward, low driving position for some. With no place for your feet to comfortably rest.
The 4×4-first approach carries over to the Tacomas suspension tuning as well. On-road, the TRD Pro feels too soft in the nose. Braking abruptly causes the the front to dive and tail to lift. The variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering is on the slow side, the 3.5L V6 is lacking any urgency, and the ride itself is always a bit stiff. Unless you plan to go off-road a lot with the new Tacoma, a less extreme version may be a better bet for more day-to-day enjoyment. You can always buy all the aesthetic upgrades separately to still achieve that rugged look if you want.
If you couldn’t care less about those daily comforts though, and just want a truck that can tackle the toughest trails with upmost confidence, than the TRD Pro Tacoma is hard to beat. It’s Multi-Terrain modes with a locking rear differential and crawl control all work together in perfect harmony. It’s no high-speed racer like the Ford F-150 Raptor, but rather careful and calculating. The V6 offering descent low-end torque and the factory tires plenty of traction and bite.
The most important changes to the new Tacoma for 2020 aren’t on the outside or undercarriage though, they’re actually in the cabin. There, a new 8.0-inch touchscreen finds a home, finally including both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s also a helpful 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat to relieve some of the awkwardness from the Tacoma’s low driving position.
In Army Green paint with black decals, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro looks more ready to tackle the trails than ever. Especially with the big black snorkel perched up top. For the serious off-roading enthusiast, its an option worth serious consideration. Regardless of where you plan to do the most driving, Toyota will undoubtedly still sell many new Tacomas, thanks to their good looks, capable hardware and reputation for extreme reliability.
Price as tested: $50,287.00