The Toyota Tacoma faces tough competition as the number of mid-size trucks on the market continues to grow. Trucks are big business, but not everyone wants a big truck. The Tacoma hopes to lure those customers in its directions, especially those who want the versatility of a truck with off-road capability.
There are 32 available Tacoma configurations, including the rugged TRD Pro. It adds a long list of off-road features to you can take your Tacoma far beyond where paved roads end.
Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 with 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque paired to either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. We had the chance to drive the Tacoma TRD Pro with the manual transmission and found it a rare treat.
The number of vehicles, trucks or otherwise, offered with a manual is dwindling. That doesn’t reduce the fun of driving one for those of us who know how to manage the fancy footwork. Despite this being a truck and not a sports car, the Tacoma’s 6-speed manual transmission shifted smoothly with a light clutch that wasn’t tiresome even when we were caught in a rush hour traffic jam.
The Tacoma TRD Pro rides smoothly, but you won’t forget you’re in a truck. Although well-mannered over smooth pavement, there was plenty of bounce over uneven surfaces. It wasn’t enough to jar passengers, but make sure you keep the lid on your coffee unless you want to wear it on your shirt.
Part of that bounce is due to the fact we drove the Tacoma TRD Pro. Off-road trucks like to go off-road and their manners aren’t quite as good on the highway. So, we took it off-road and drove it through the mud and muck and rocks out in Danville, Pennsylvania as a part of the #TrailTrekTour.
The list of features that make this an off-road truck is lengthy. These include four-wheel drive, 16-inch TRD Pro black alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, TRD Pro front skid plate, electronically locking rear differential, and 2.5-inch Fox shocks.
All that capability gets backed up with unique styling cues inside and out that make the Tacoma TRD Pro look like it should be able to go off road. It has off-road looks and the capability to match.
We took the Tacoma TRD Pro through a challenging off-road course with mud, dirt, and loose rocks. The Tacoma made short work of the course and it did so with a sense of confidence. In fact, it felt like the Tacoma could have done far more given the chance.
Driving a manual transmission on a tricky off-road course is, well, tricky, but once you get a feel for the truck and how it moves, then things get easier. Don’t let the challenge a manual presents dissuade you from buying one if you plan to off-road. After all, learning how to drive a manual is a challenge. Look at learning how to off-road in one as the master class.
The 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is a capable mid-size truck. It goes easily from handling the daily commute to weekend off-road fun with the family. Pricing for the Tacoma TRD Pro starts at $42,690.