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2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport: Eye Of The Beholder

Posted in Features on December 12, 2017
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Photographers: Deanna Scanlon

Brady Wise has been an auto enthusiast ever since he started watching British Top Gear. Wise says that living “out in the country” in Texas, he was surrounded by trucks of all shapes and sizes and liking trucks came naturally.

When thinking about what he wanted in a truck, the truck needed to be exceptional whether jumping around in the sand dunes, hauling around in the desert, rockcrawling down a dried-up creek bed, overlanding out in Colorado, or maneuvering over those annoying curbs and speed bumps at the mall. He wanted his truck to be able to do it all.

Wise had been thinking about building his existing Toyota Tundra, but decided on selling it and getting a Tacoma instead. It is the biggest Tacoma made though as he went with a four-wheel-drive ’16 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab longbed to be sure he had the room for everything he’d need on the trail.

The first thing he needed was a good suspension system. He went to Miller Offroad Design of Spring, Texas, where he and Shaun Miller decided on what was the best way to go. They ultimately chose to use a Camburg Racing Long Travel Kit for the front end. Miller added Total Chaos spindle gussets to the stock spindles and FOX 2.5 Series 8.0-inch Triple Bypasses with Remote Reservoirs. Once the Eibach springs were on the remote reservoir-equipped FOX 2.5 Series coilovers, they were installed too.

Cush is provided by FOX 2.5 Triple Bypass and Eibach springs-equipped FOX 2.5 Series coil-overs.
A Camburg Racing Long Travel system gives the Tacoma long legs while the stock spindles have been beefed up with Total Chaos spindle gussets.

With the Tacoma now having 15.5 inches of travel in the front, the rear was next. Miller used a Camburg Spring Under Axle kit with Deaver long-travel leaf springs and added FOX 3.0 Series 16-inch triple bypass shocks (with remote reservoir) along with FOX 2.45-inch bumpstops, all of which now allows the rearend to swing a total of 18.5 inches.

Wanting his truck to go anywhere requires tough rubber, so Wise cleverly went with 35-inch 35x12.5R17 General Tire Grabber X3 tires. Equally rugged Vision Wheel 398 MANX Beadlocks are the wheel of choice.

It’s tough out there, so Wise went even tougher with 35-inch General Grabber tires that have been mounted on Vision beadlock wheels.

McNeil Racing Fiberglass front fender, bedsides, and bumper caps gives the wheels plenty of room to move while the 3M Graphics Satin Thundercloud wrap, applied by Adam The Wrapper out of McKinney, Texas, gives the Toyota a stealth look. That stealth look doesn’t go with the rest of the exterior though as the longbed has been filled with things Wise will need on the trail, and a few he’s hoping he won’t need.

It was back to Miller, where an intricate bed cage was designed to hold another pair of Grabbers, a new Pro Eagle Beast big wheel jack, a few Rotopax fuel jugs, and storage units. The Generals are strapped down with Mac’s Tie Downs, umm, tie downs. Those were the “hope not to need” items, but a big need was mounting the Cascadia Vehicle Tents Mt. Rainier Summit Series tent. Miller and Wise went one better than just bolting it up though and made it pivot with the help of an electric actuator. That way it’ll be easier to get it level when nighttime comes, but the best part is that it only takes pulling three bolts to remove the tent.

There’s a host of Rigid Industries lights attached to the cage too; a 50-inch Rigid Adapt LED lightbar shines from above the windshield, while four Rigid Chase series lights shine out from below the spares. The cage was powdercoated by Advanced Powdercoat.

The 50-inch Rigid Industries Adapt LED lightbar, along with a 20-inch Radiance light bar and four Radiance series cubes that have been mounted in the Bodyguard front bumper, provide plenty of light for those dark Texas nights.

A pair of Rigid Midnight edition dualie lights are flush mounted into the custom Bodyguard rear bumper. Wise was attending the Unlimited Offroad EXPO at Texas Motor Speedway and ran into his old friend Chris Wiman of Mountain Motion Media. Wise told Wiman about the Tacoma, and it turns out he knew the folks at Bodyguard Bumpers who were considering building a line of bumpers for the new generation of Tacomas.

Bodyguard designed the A2 series rear and a custom “stretched” version of their A2L series front bumper to fit the 6-inch wider than stock McNeil fenders. There’s a bunch of Rigid lights in the front one too; four Radiance series cubes and a 20-inch Radiance lightbar have been mounted in the front bumper. Travis Carlile, owner of Lone Wolf Off-Road located in Krum, Texas, hooked Wise up with a custom set of rock sliders to keep those pesky, gigantic boulders from ruining the bottom of the cab when he goes wheeling.

After meeting with Bodyguard Bumpers, Wise had them custom make front and rear units. A pair of Rigid LED quads are flush mounted into it for plenty of backup light.

Wise wanted his truck to be comfortable as well as capable, so he swapped in four PRP Summit Elite Series seats. They have heaters and air lumbar support built-in and feature custom stitching. A set of PRP four-point harnesses keeps Wise and all passengers safely in place. A TRD PRO shifter replaces the stock unit, while he gets GPS through the stock JBL unit. Not stock, however, is the addition of a Kicker IQ 1000W amp and two Kicker 8-inch L7 subs that sit in a custom ported box between the rear two seats that was built by Pyramid Customs in Cresson, Texas. It was Daniel Haddad, owner of Pyramid Customs, who also did all the custom wiring by tying everything electrical to the sPod SE Digital Touchscreen to control it all.

With 280 horses stock, Wise figured all the stock 3.5L V-6 engine really needed was the addition of a BA Mufflers Budget Dump Exhaust system. Yes, the truck must have been red before the 3M Satin Thundercloud wrap.

Wise was fine with the stock 3.5L V-6 engine; other than adding a BA Mufflers Budget Dump Exhaust system, he left it alone. The reliability of the Toyota engine is great, and 280 hp is nothing to sneeze at.

Another good idea for overlanding is dual batteries, so Wise went with dual Odyssey’s. The sPod control center is mounted on top of the rest of the fuses.

Wise thinks that he may catch some flak from the hard-core prerunner guys or overland guys, but we’re not sure why he would think that. This Tacoma has it all for anything that Wise would like to do on any given weekend when he’s not working as an optical lab technician. His home state of Texas offers some great off-roading, and he wanted a truck that could do everything from rough overnighters to blasting down a dirt road pretty darn well.

As Wise says, “At the end of the day this is my truck, and I would like to be able to enjoy all aspects of off-roading, while retaining the comfort and amenities of a modern truck.” We’re on board with that sentiment, and we think that he has the right idea with this Tacoma.

Thanks to Miller Offroad Design’s bed cage, the Cascadia tent is adjustable thanks to an electric actuator.
A spare pair of General Grabber’s is strapped down with Mac’s Tie Downs wheel straps and share cage space with a new Pro Eagle Beast big wheel jack. A quartet of Rigid Chase series lights provides plenty of warning for anyone behind Wise.
A few Rotopax water, fuel, and storage units adorn the cage.
Other custom-made items are the rocker slides made by Lone Wolf Off-Road of Krum, Texas.
Wise and occupants will rest easy in the four PRP Summit Elite Series seats and safely thanks to the PRP four-point harnesses.
The sPod SE Digital Touchscreen controls all of the various electrical things in one easy to reach panel.
Pyramid Customs of Cresson, Texas, built this custom ported box that sits between the rear two seats and holds the Kicker IQ 1000w amp and two Kicker 8-inch L7 subs.
Looking right at home on dirt and beneath a cloud-enhanced blue sky, this Tacoma is ready to roll to parts unknown in style and substance.
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