A 4-Inch Taco To Go
Since They Started burning up the soil in the late '70s, Toyota pickups have been one of the most influential and heavily modified trail vehicles, known for their legendary durability and famed engine longevity. The evolution of the Toyota mini-truck into the present-day Tacoma has helped to increase the number of Toyota enthusiasts exponentially. This becomes more and more apparent each time we hit the trail. Although we're not huge fans of IFS, the coilover-strut front end combined with the flexy factory rear leaf pack and a trail-friendly wheelbase makes for an incredibly competent terra-ready package. It's safe to say that the folks at Toyota takes off-roading seriously, and definitely had their loyal wheeling fanatics in mind when they stepped up and provided each TRD model with a selectable rear locker from the factory (even though they keep forgetting to put one in the front; one is better than none, right?).
Knowing how good our '01 extended-cab TRD performed stock, we felt it was time for a little lift to open up even bigger trail destinations for the future. Since gas is still outrageous and this V-6 can get a little thirsty chugging up and down the California freeways, we went with a sleek 4-inch lift from Pro Comp Suspension to keep the center of gravity low and stable. We also tossed on a light set of Pro Comp Alloy wheels and 33-inch tires to keep the rolling mass to a minimum.
After taking a few minutes to flip through the instructions, we quickly realized that although a driveway install is possible, it would be more efficient to find a two-post lift and get this Taco in the air since removal of the entire front suspension and differential is necessary. Luckily for us, Mel Wade and his expert crew of lift technicians at Off Road Evolution were able to cut, drop, and lengthen all the right parts in just under a day, even with a few unexpected rusty surprises. So if you're ready to take your Toy to the next level and still keep the gas vultures away, maybe a few new inches for your Taco will have it feeling more grande than ever.
While two people could feasibly install this kit in your driveway, remember that you'll need to raise the truck as high and safely as you can to allow room to remove, cut, and reassemble the front portion of the lift. While we found a plasma cutter to be of great service, a Sawzall and a couple good metal cutting blades will get the job done. Plan on spending the weekend knocking it out and be sure to have a buddy or two around to help you maneuver in the new cradle and differential unit.
With an already impressive setup from the factory, the new Pro Comp 4-inch gave our '01 the extra clearance it needed to make it up and over previously difficult obstacles. The suspension system performed consistently while climbing over rocks and hills, and other than a little rubbing on the front fender (which is easily trimmed), we continuously cycled our new suspension without so much as a clank or squeak. The tires hooked up well, and though we think we lost a little power through our automatic transmission, we felt that when mated with low range and our factory rear TRD locker, turning the 33-inch tires wasn't a problem even with the factory gear configuration.
The right tire-and-wheel combo can make all the difference and is always a critical part of any rig. We went with a set of Pro Comp Xterrains in a 305/70R16 (33x12.50 eq.) and mounted them on 16x8 1023 Pro Comp Alloy wheels to gain the benefit of having a light and aggressive overall package that could stand up to plenty of on- and off-road abuse.