Toyota Tacoma Trail Talent
If you have a second-generation Toyota Tacoma and you want to improve its trail talents, one of the best ways is to get some lift and larger tires under it. Recently, we desired to do just that on our TRD Sport-equipped 2010 Tacoma, so we installed a kit from the folks at Skyjacker Suspension.
The '05-and-up Tacoma uses a coil-on-shock IFS front suspension and a leaf-spring rear suspension. We opted for Skyjacker's Platinum Series coilover conversion kit (p/n TC530KS-H), which replaces the factory front shocks and coils as well as the leaf springs. The front coilovers are adjustable so you can select from 2 to 3 inches of lift, and the kit includes top shock brackets that are state-of-the-art and allow each coilover to pivot smoothly without binding through the suspension cycle. Each coilover shock is equipped with a 7075 aluminum alloy rod-end fitted with Teflon-lined stainless spherical bearings to allow maximum articulation without restricting wheel travel. The Softride coil springs are preset and formed from 5160H alloy, ensuring higher tensile strength and longer life. In the rear, the new springs have one more leaf than stock and provide 1.5 to 2 inches of lift.
Matt Dinelli at Attitude Performance in Arlington Heights, Illinois, completed the install while we shot photos. Here's a rundown of the major components and how the kit works.
Our Tacoma came from the factory with P265/65R17 (30.5-inch-diameter) Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires, and we fitted the truck with LT285/70R17 (32.7-inch-diameter) Fierce Attitude M/T tires on 17x8.5 Fuel Octane wheels with 41/2 inches of backspacing. This combination, along with the lift, improved our front fascia-to-ground measurement from 17 inches to 21 inches and the rear hitch-to-ground measurement from 161/2 inches to 19 inches. That's a 24-percent and 15-percent increase, respectively. Approach and departure angles also improved. In stock form, we measured an approach angle of 33 degrees and a departure angle of 20 degrees. After the install, approach angle jumped to 42 degrees and departure angle to 25 degrees. That's a 27-percent and 25-percent increase, respectively.
We also saw a modest improvement on the RTI ramp. Before the install, the Tacoma traveled 54.5 inches up our 20-degree ramp to earn a score of 388 points. After the install, it traveled 57 inches to earn a score of 405 points, which is a 5-percent improvement.
Ride and handling were very impressive. The truck rode incredibly well with the combination of the Skyjacker suspension and the Fierce Attitude tires. We drove it to the Four Wheeler Midwest Bureau from Chicago after the install and were amazed by the outstanding on-center feel of the steering, overall handling and smooth ride.
We did have to remove the front factory mudflaps and do some trimming of the inner plastic fenderwell to help create room for the front tires to travel without contact.
We like that the Platinum Series coilover shocks have a big 2.5-inch threaded body that helps to cool the units and we like that the Schrader valve is located at the top of the shock for easy accessibility and protection.
The kit we installed has a retail price of $1,270.91. Other second-gen Tacoma options from Skyjacker include a 2-inch leveling kit (Photo B, $134.25) and an adjustable strut kit (Photo A, $448.03). The adjustable strut kit reuses the factory coils and has nitrogen gas-charged shocks with 1.375-inch-diameter piston, velocity-sensitive valving, and heavy-duty electro-less nickel spherical bearings with PTFE-lined inner race.
You can get the strut kit with rear Softride add-a-leafs (as pictured in Photo B) or as a system with Softride replacement rear leaf springs.