Toyota’s TRD Pro Off-Road Packages Offer Rugged Good Looks

Toyota’s TRD Pro Off-Road Packages Offer Rugged Good Looks

Story and photos by Russell Purcell

It’s a well known fact that pickup trucks sell well in Canada, so it should come as no surprise that the various manufacturers strive to equip these once-utilitarian vehicles with a wide variety of equipment and upgrades to further broaden their appeal.

The Toyota Motor Company. in particular, has a long history of selling trucks in our market, so the members of both the product planning  and marketing teams have accumulated a tremendous wealth of knowledge of what truck buyers are seeking from the brand when it comes to the production of the trucks themselves, as well as accessories and equipment.

In an effort to appeal to the off-road enthusiast, Toyota has called upon its in-house tuning arm – Toyota Racing Development (TRD) – to help make its popular Tacoma and Tundra four-wheel-drive pickups even more capable when the going gets rough and the pavement comes to an end.

The folks at TRD know what they are doing, as their firm has been responsible for improving the performance of Toyota’s automobiles and supporting the company’s various racing interests since 1979. A variety of TRD-engineered parts are available through Toyota dealers including performance suspension components, superchargers, and wheels. By creating special TRD and TRD Pro editions of its truck offerings, Toyota is able to offer its customers turn-key, fully-warranted vehicles with enhanced performance capabilities at a package price. In short, buying a TRD model is a no muss, no fuss proposition.

Toyota is one car company that has made safety a top priority, so TRD Pro offerings are equipped with no fewer than eight airbags, a  Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) as well as rear parking assist sonar. The full Star Safety System suite of driver aides is also on board – which includes ABS brakes, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.

 

Tacoma_TRD13Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The Tacoma TRD Pro is only available in a five-passenger Double Cab Short Bed (5-foot) configuration,  but there are three colour choices – Cement, Barcelona Red Metallic, and Super White. These special edition trucks further stand out, as they  come equipped with a heritage-inspired TOYOTA front grille with colour-keyed surround, blacked out hood scoop and graphic, colour-keyed power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, colour-keyed door handles, black over fenders, and a colour-keyed rear bumper.

Exterior modifications include 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels wrapped with Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Kevlar-reinforced tires,  a special 1/4-inch aluminum front skid plate, and special TRD Pro badges. Lighting is also unique, as the TRD Pro benefits from projector-beam headlights with black bezels, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), and taillights with black bezels. Extra-robust LED fog lights sourced from off-road lighting specialist Rigid Industries are also part of the TRD Pro upgrade.

On the inside, Toyota has dressed up the truck with a host of standard features which include black TRD Pro leather-trimmed heated front seats (with a bold TRD Pro logo stitched into the head restraint), a TRD shift knob, TRD floor mats, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel outfitted with accessory controls. A premium audio system complete with integrated navigation will help keep you entertained and help track your route.

Tacoma_TRD8Under the hood resides a 3.5-litre V6 engine that produces 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, but a six-speed automatic is available as an option. I found power to be more than sufficient for a truck of this size, and acceleration was brisk and controlled whether from a standstill or when the engine was tasked with delivering a surge for passing.

The Tacoma TRD Pro features Toyota’s 4WDemand part-time four-wheel drive system with an electronically controlled transfer case and an automatic rear limited-slip differential for more grip on low-traction surfaces. It also benefits from an upgraded TRD-tuned suspension which includes Fox 2.5 internal bypass shocks, 1.0-inch front lift springs, and progressive-rate off-road rear leaf springs. Automatic models also benefit from the addition of Crawl Control. During an afternoon of off-road exploration I found the TRD-equipped Tacoma to be up to any and all tasks I asked it to tackle.

The Tacoma’s gauge cluster features a 4.2-inch colour Multi-Information Display (MID) with an integrated inclinometer and tilt gauge to help keep the driver informed of vehicle position during potential treacherous manoeuvres. This was greatly appreciated during steep descents and when traversing across a hillside or through a ditch. The off-the-showroom-floor Tacoma TRD Pro provides a 32.1 degree approach angle, and  23.5 degree departure angle.

The truck features a power rear sliding window, and as is the case with all current Tacoma models, a GoPro mount is located on the left-side of the windshield  to facilitate video documentation of your adventures. A 400 Watt (120V) power outlet is embedded in the wall of the cargo bed to help keep your gadgets charged, and an optional QI Wireless charging pad can be ordered for the cabin.

Tacoma_TRD14Technical Specifications: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Price as tested: $53,295

TRD Pro package price: $12,850.00

Engine: 3.5L V6

Power: 278 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque: 265 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto

Brakes: 4-wheel disc

Towing capacity: Up to 2,950 kg (6,500 lb) with towing package (standard on TRD)

Fuel Consumption (L/100 km): 21 City / 26 Highway

 

TRD_Tundra9Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Large pick-up trucks represent sales gold for Canadian auto dealers, especially if you are selling trucks made by the domestic stalwarts General Motors, Ford, and Ram. However, half-ton offerings from both Nissan and Toyota (interestingly both domestically produced) have been gaining traction with Canadian consumers. The Toyota Tundra SR5 TRD Pro has been geared up to compete with similar offerings like the Ram Rebel, Ford F150 FX4 and the Nissan Titan Pro 4X.

The Tundra’s overall design is currently mid-cycle, as it was last thoroughly revised in 2014. The new styling was more bold and aggressive, and now with the TRD Pro treatment, it gets kicked up a further notch.

Cloaked in Cement Gray Metallic paint, the Tundra TRD Pro looks all business, especially rolling on black wheels and adorned with a host of black trim pieces to help sell the look.

Like its Tacoma stable mate, the addition of the TRD Pro off-road package equips the Tundra with an arsenal of equipment that will allow it to tackle the harsh conditions and hazards that come with venturing off road. The truck gains underbody skid plates, a heavy-duty suspension [double-wishbone independent (front); solid axle leaf spring (rear)], more robust Bilstein shocks that offer a slight lift to ride height, more aggressive all-terrain tires, and a more raucous sounding dual exhaust system with special tips. The truck also sports badges, wheel centres  and bed-side stamping to demark the truck as a special piece.

The truck can be ordered with the DoubleCab or the larger CrewMax cab, the latter of which is a better choice if you plan to haul five adults. Don’t get me wrong, as the DoubleCab variant is quite spacious, but it looks a little odd proportionally due to the shape of the rear side windows.  The DoubleCab does allow for the truck to be fitted with the longer cargo bed (up to 6.5 feet), but long-legged adults may find the rear passenger area a little cramped.

Like its Tacoma stable mate, the Tundra TRD Pro is available cloaked in Cement, Barcelona Red Metallic, or Super White paint. The interior is adorned with TRD badges, a TRD shift knob, and embroidery in strategic locations, and features an attractive black leather seating treatment complete with red stitching that is carried into the door panels.

TRD_Tundra5You really need to scramble to get into the Tundra TRD Pro as the truck does not include steps or rock rails. Luckily, the steering wheel and lots of grab handles are within reach to lend an assist. Shorter individuals may wish to have longer arms as some interior controls and switchgear will seem very far away once you are perched in the power operated driver’s seat.

Standard niceties include a premium 7-inch Display Audio system with integrated XM Satellite Radio, built-in navigation system, clearance and backup sensors, heated front seats, an anti-theft system, and a  power sliding rear window.

Our test truck derived its power from the proven 5.7-litre iForce V8 engine which produces 381 horsepower and a prodigious 401 lb-ft of torque. This potent powerplant is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Shift Mode. To some, this may sound underpowered and under geared, but during my week long test period, I never found myself wanting of more power. Mind you, I was not towing, and for the most part the truck was running with a very light load.

The Tundra TRD Pro also features Toyota’s One-Touch part-time four-wheel drive system with an electronically-controlled transfer case and an automatic rear limited-slip differential for more grip on low-traction surfaces.

A day spent playing off-road revealed how balanced and capable the TRD Pro package makes the Tundra, and the truck has a 26-degree approach angle, and 17 degree departure angle.

Steering feel is light and communicative, even off-road, as the hydraulic power-assist rack-and-pinion allows the driver to navigate this big rig without placing too much burden on his or her arms.

 

TRD_Tundra1Technical Specifications: 2017 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Price as tested: $57,520

TRD Pro package price: $12,780.00

Engine: 5.7L V8

Power: 381 hp @ 5,600 rpm

Torque: 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Brakes: 4-wheel disc

Towing capacity: Up to 4,490 kg (9,899 lb) with towing package (standard on TRD)

Fuel Consumption (L/100 km): City 18.1 / Highway 13.9

 

Conclusion

Both Tacoma and Tundra TRD Pro models have been designed, and outfitted, to offer more aggressive looks as well as Baja-proven off-road capabilities. However, each platform will appeal to very different buyers largely due to their size difference.