We're bringing you a trio of features on All-Pro Off Road's Tacomas. The first, "Soft-Shell Taco'," was about an '04 Tacoma modified to work well on- and off-road. The second is "Crispy Taco'," the brand-new '05 Tacoma you see here. The third, "Taco' Supreme," will be the '04 Tacoma with a straight-axle swap and other mods to make it 'wheel with the most extreme.
It's no secret that when Toyota rolled out the new, larger '05 Tacoma we didn't like the styling. The fenderwells looked especially strange. They still look strange, but they look much better when filled with bigger tires. The Tacoma works so well that, even if you're ambivalent about its styling, once you're inside, the truck shines.
Jon Bundrant, owner of All-Pro Off Road, has been building off-road Toyotas for a long time. Jon was the 2003 Rock Crawling champion, winning every series, and the World Supercrawl champ, which gives him even more experience in knowing what works and what doesn't for your truck. When Sarah Caler, All-Pro's manager, purchased a new '05 Tacoma, Jon went right to work designing pieces that would make the new truck work as well as their earlier offerings did. This truck is Sarah's daily driver, so she didn't want a straight-axle swap or other extreme parts. She does like to go off-road, though, so wanted the truck to be competent there. Jon likes the idea that he has an '05 Tacoma around to fabricate new parts for.
The first thing installed was All-Pro's '05 Tacoma suspension system. Up front, that includes new coilovers that lift the truck 3 inches. By the time you read this, All-Pro adjustable coilovers (0-3 inches) will be a part of the system. In back, longer All-Pro 2-inch leaf packs offer consistent arch, lift, and spring rate; shot-peened leaves reduce spring fatigue, are precycled to reduce sag, and feature antiwrap leaves, Teflon pads, and a full military wrap. A U-bolt flip kit gives more clearance under the axle and keeps the U-bolt threads up and out of the way. Bilstein 5125 Off-Road-series shocks handle dampening duties.
Even the best drivers need trail armor to keep nasty rocks from damaging their new truck. The Tacoma's wimpy front and rear bumpers were immediately removed to make way for All-Pro's front and rear bumpers. This new front bumper is built from heavy-duty 0.120-wall, 1.75-inch tubing. Like the Front Winch Bumper for earlier-model Tacomas, approach angles are greatly improved because it tucks up out of the way, providing much more clearance than the stock bumper and trim. This bumper also allowed the installation of a Warn 9.5xp winch and features an integrated steel skidplate that not only looks great, but also adds even more protection up front.
The rear bumper is also built from heavy-duty 0.120-wall, 1.75-inch tubing. It has a receiver and wraps around to protect the rear quarter panels. Rock Guards keep the rocker panels safe. Underneath, an All-Pro transfer case skidplate and electric locker solenoid skidplate protect those vital components from damage.
285/75R16LT BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrains were mounted on 16x8-inch Weld Racing alloy wheels with OMF bead locks. We noticed that OMF is now angling the washer seat on its bead locks. This removes the stress on the bolt heads when you tighten them down over the tire bead.
We knew the Crispy Taco' was going to work well on the highway, and it didn't disappoint us. The ride was comfortable and controlled, but not harsh. We think it rides better than it did stock. Off-road was where we were surprised. This is a fairly mild buildup for those who want to use their Tacomas every day as well as get off the pavement to explore the backcountry. The surprise came when the Crispy Taco' outperformed many vehicles we've taken to our photo shoot area. We had just photographed a couple of highly modified Jeeps. To get to our destination, we had to traverse some dunes. Both Jeeps made it, but it took horsepower and driving skill. The Crispy Taco' floated over the same place -- with no sweat expended at all! Once in the rocks, it had no trouble with some intermediate rockcrawling, being limited only by its fairly substantial rear overhang.
So, order up! The Crispy Taco' is a tasty, polished offering that takes Toyota's '05 Tacoma and turns it into a great all-around vehicle.