Saturday, August 9, 2014


The first time we had the chance to see the new TRD Pro off-road package for the full-size Tundra was during its introduction at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Toyota really hyped the new package, available this fall, as providing new levels of desert-running, four-wheeling capability for the 2015 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra.
2015 Toyota 4Runner, Tundra & Tacoma TRD Pro Series First Review 5
In fact, Toyota even created a huge off-road course inside Chicago’s McCormick Place to give hair-raising rides to showgoers through water crossings, over steep hill climbs, on a giant teeter-totter, and across a nasty set of broken logs.

The new TRD Pro off-road option will replace the previous Rock Warrior 4x4 option and offers a more comprehensive (and capable) four-wheel-drive package. Like the Tacoma TRD Pro, the Tundra TRD Pro includes a unique set of interior and exterior design features, vastly upgraded suspension components, and a TRD exhaust for a little extra grunt (we’re told that each of the vehicles we recently tested—the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner—will get a 5- to 10-horsepower bump from the new exhaust). The new Tundra package will be offered only in four-wheel-drive but can be had on both double-cab and CrewMax cabs equipped with the 5.7-liter V-8. To date, the package can only be offered with the SR5 trim level. TRD Pro trucks will only be offered in black, white, and Inferno (which is sort of a burnt red).

With the exception of the new shocks and springs, our favorite details on the TRD Pro have to do with how they promote the package around the outside of the truck. Not only does the Tundra TRD Pro have a unique black center-bar grille spelling out “Toyota” across the front like the old FJ, but it also includes a special stamping in the bed sides (similar to the Tundra stamp in the tailgate) that identifies this as a TRD Pro pickup. All badging on TRD Pro vehicles is blacked out, along with door handles and mirrors. Unique 18-inch, aluminum, five-spoke wheels and Michelin 32-inch (actually 275/65R18) LTX tires round out the special dress code. The package is finished with extra aluminum in front and midsection skid plating for added protection.

The meat of this package is at the corners of the truck in the form of high-tech, specially designed, dual-reservoir Bilstein shocks, as well as a unique set of slightly longer Eibach front springs. The springs in front allow for a more balanced stance, raising the front end about two inches. Thankfully, TRD Pro Tundras will have adjustable headlights so when cargo or tongue weight is put on the rear of the truck, drivers will be able to limit any nighttime headlight issues with oncoming traffic. The Bilstein coil-over shocks are speed sensitive and have a massive 60 mm piston shaft diameter (stock sizes are 46 mm). This unique setup in front actually softens the factory ride and offers almost two inches of extra wheel travel. The extra reservoir (attached to the bottom rear of the shock) allows for better cooling.

Another favorite technology in this package is the TRD-tuned dual exhaust that emits a V-8 rumble that we’ve never heard from a factory-offered Toyota truck before. The tuning is especially fun to listen to when getting deep into the throttle with vast empty stretches of power-line road in front of you. The throaty exhaust note was accomplished by opening up the cats and reducing the back pressure, all the while making sure that it never exceeded the 95-decibel, federally mandated noise limit.

Knowing we have such massive front-axle ground clearance—and a quarter-inch-thick front skid plate—we confidently straddle certain obstacles we might otherwise have to steer around in lesser trucks, lest havoc be wreaked on their vital organs. The added wheel travel and the high-capacity shocks let us leap and bound with less risk of bottoming out, and like that of any good Baja-grade truck, the ride actually gets smoother the faster you go. The slow-off-center steering keeps us busy in the wash, and the ride—on- and off-road—is pretty brittle overall (thank you, stiff-walled light-truck tires), but in general, the jounce and rebound properties of the suspension and the grip level of the tires are exactly what they need to be for grin-inducing romps on fast trails like this.

Sadly, although the chassis twists up the fun dial to 10, the ancient V-6 and five-speed-automatic powertrain in our test vehicle remains locked in at about four. Fortunately, there’s a fix in the form of an available TRD supercharger that Toyota says adds another 59 horses and 52 lb-ft of torque. If it were our money, we’d save our pennies for that and pair it with the cheaper six-speed manual. Even better, all of that can be done without voiding the Taco’s three-year/36,000-mile warranty.

When the Tacoma TRD Pro goes on sale this fall, it will be the most exclusive of the three new TRD Pro Series models that Toyota is launching as part of a concerted effort to breathe new life into the TRD brand. Only 1500 TRD Pro Tacomas will be made during the first year. Pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date, but don’t be surprised to see it come in a bit higher than the $34,525 Toyota asks for its cheapest 2014 Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Series.

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