2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: The killer midsize off-roader

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 08: Toyota introduces theTacoma TRD Pro at the Chicago Auto Show on February 8, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The show is the nation's largest and longest-running auto show. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 08: Toyota introduces theTacoma TRD Pro at the Chicago Auto Show on February 8, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The show is the nation's largest and longest-running auto show. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) /

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro offers killer off-road chops in a truck that’s as equally competent on the road.

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most well-loved and highly revered models in the company’s lineup. Sure people love the Camry and Corolla, but neither of those cars has the fan base that the Tacoma does. Tacoma owners love their truck, and they let you know it.

That’s why I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the truck that I got to drive show up with a Voodoo Blue paint job with a big old flat black hood scoop. The truck looked like a loud-mounted flashy hillbilly ready to find some mud, and that’s exactly the kind of person Toyota wants driving this thing.

Feels Like a Big Truck With a Lot Of Attitude

There are a lot of big trucks out there, ones that are too damned big. That’s why the midsize market is so popular. People can actually fit them in their garages. Well, that should be the case with the Toyota Tacoma. It should fit, but I’m not sure it will feel like it should.

To put it plainly, the Toyota Tacoma feels bigger than it is. It’s pumped up feeling inside the cabin is part of its charm. It’s also a problem in tight spaces. I live in a city, and the Taco felt pretty grande cruising around city streets.

Excellent Performance for Everyday and Equipment for Off-Roading

More from Art of Gears

On the road, it’s more than competent, with plenty of torque and a smooth enough ride for everyday driving. You have a commanding view of the road, and you feel tall and safe. The 3.5-liter V6 makes 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.

It’s a good engine, but you really have to mash the throttle to get the power out of it. The truck handles well, too, though it is certainly no canyon carver. Twisty roads come with a lot of body roll and some understeer when you push things hard. The Tacoma TRD Pro is built for off-roading, and I suspect that’s where it excels.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how it drives on the road, though, because that’s where it will be most of the time, let’s face it.

I did do some gravel road driving in the Tacoma and tried to find some rougher terrain, but nothing I found even came close to challenging the truck or even requiring me to switch on an anything but four-wheel drive.

I’m ashamed to admit I had no need to use four-wheel low, the locking differentials, crawl control, or hill descent mode. I guess that’s what I get for living in the flat cornfields of Indiana.

Still, there’s no denying the prowess of the Tacoma when the pavement ends. Previously, I have driven the Tacoma on some more serious off-road terrain, and I can say it’ll tackle anything you throw at it with ease.

Comparing it to the Competition

The Tacoma sets itself apart from the competition by offering killer styling, a functional and comfortable cabin and plenty of trim levels and options. The TRD Pro model sets itself apart by providing some of the best off-roading equipment you can buy in a truck for the money.

Speaking of money the Tacoma’s MSRP is $25,700, which is on par but a little more expensive than other midsize pickup trucks, like the Chevrolet Colorado or the Ford Ranger. Still, with the loyal fanbase the model has, I’m not surprised Toyota has a slightly higher price on it.

The interior is a bit behind some of the competitors. There is a lot of hard plastics, the infotainment system looks about four or five years past its prime, and it lacks features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also, the rear seats in the double cab are a little tighter than I would have expected.

Still a Killer Midsize Choice

Despite the fact that the interior could use a little modernizing, better materials, and more space for the rear seats, the Tacoma is still a smart choice. You get Toyota’s reputation for reliability and quality in a midsize pickup that will likely fit in your garage and be able to take on just about anything you can throw at it.

If you don’t plan on doing much off-roading, I’d suggest going for one of the other trim levels. The Toyota Tacoma has six different trim levels, so you should be able to find a model that works for you. Each has varying degrees of off-road, towing, and luxury features. Of course, the more features you buy, the more the price goes up.

Next. Lexus LS 500 F Sport Review. dark

My test vehicle came with a price tag of $46,410. For that price, I can get a full-size truck. It won’t have all the goodies that the TRD Pro does, but It’ll have more space inside the cabin, and perhaps a more up-to-date infotainment system, depending on the model and trim level.