In Truck Trend's 2015 Pickup Truck of the Year test, the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro was considered one of the most entertaining trucks in the test, thanks to its winning off-road performance and nimble size. But its dated design didn’t seem to live up to the high sticker price of nearly $40,000, and it was loud and uncomfortable on any road with a speed limit above 40 mph. Its successor, however, likely won’t face the same criticisms. Building off of the newly redesigned (and much more refined) 2016 Tacoma, the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro looks like it could be the perfect pickup for off-roading enthusiasts.
For starters, there’s the way it looks. Stormtrooper colors have always worked best on the TRD Pro, and the new model’s Super White paint coordinates perfectly with its blacked-out grille (featuring heritage Toyota script), fender flares, and badging. Black-painted 16-inch alloy wheels, black-bezeled head- and taillights, and a reshaped hood with a (you guessed it) black hood scoop give the Tacoma some seriously sinister road presence. The Pro will also be available in Barcelona Red Metallic or Cement, a dusty grey that will also look pretty sweet.
Thankfully, Toyota engineers saw fit to back up the TRD Pro’s new appearance with some hardware updates. Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks replace the 2015 model’s Bilstein units, and TRD-tuned front springs get a 1-inch lift over other Tacoma 4x4s. A TRD-tuned rear suspension gets progressive-rate off-road leaf springs for a smoother, more stable ride over rough stuff without compromising roll stiffness on the highway. The rear differential is equipped with an electronically controlled limited-slip clutch and locker, providing good performance in a variety of off-road conditions. The limited-slip will make big, sandy drifts a cinch, while the locker will aid low-speed rock crawling quite nicely.
The TRD Pro will be available as a Double Cab only, but mercifully, Toyota will offer it with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Opting for a stick means forgoing Toyota’s cool Crawl Control, Multi-terrain Select, and Hill Start Assist Control (which are all standard on the automatic), but it adds Active Traction Control (A-TRAC). A-TRAC manages wheelspin through the anti-lock brakes without cutting throttle input. That single feature would cure one of the greatest complaints we had about the Tacoma TRD Off-Road automatic we tested in our 2016 Pickup Truck of the Year competition, as that truck’s traction and stability controls cut throttle at the slightest provocation. It was maddening in sand.
Inside, the TRD Pro gets leather seating, blind-spot monitoring, Entune audio, navigation, and a 4.2-inch screen in the instrument panel that includes an inclinometer. A leather steering wheel, TRD shift knob, and TRD Pro floor mats up the lux in the truck a little bit, too. Rigid Industries LED fog lights and a TRD Pro aluminum skidplate adorn the front end.
All told, the TRD Pro should likely follow up on the success of its immediate predecessor, with ‘roided-up looks, enhanced off-road performance, and some added refinement (we hope). Toyota will probably sell every one they can build, and by the way, those sales will begin in Fall 2016.