2017 Toyota Tacoma
Review of: 2017 Toyota Tacoma 4WD Double Cab V6 Auto TRD Off Road
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Factory fun flyer at a price
By G. R. Whale
Jan. 30, 2017
The 2017 TRD Pro Tacoma is Toyota’s best off-road pickup and, where it fits, their best off-pavement vehicle in general. But high-speed pickups are often compromises, so where did Toyota balance the scales with this $50,000 mid-size?
Pros & Cons
- + Off-road performance
- + Composite pickup bed
- + Brand's reputation
- - Driving position
- - Rear seat space
- - Price
Pro arrives with obligatory badging, blackout trim and big-letter grille but the stance distinguishes it from lesser Tacomas. Rather than looking like it’ll stand on the front bumper under heavy braking, Taco Pro’s skidplated prerunner profile suggests it can barrel into depressions and divots carefree. It can’t, but it survives higher speeds than most.
And it does pickup work. A composite, short five-foot bed with floor and rail tie-downs, 120-volt outlet and storage bin carries 310 kg plus two adults, the hitch arrangement handles 2,900 kg—you supply the brake controller—and there’s a matching spare on a steel wheel.
Compact cars have more rear seat legroom than mid-size pickups so if you’re above average size only kid space exists behind…the baby seat might have to squeeze in the middle. Low front seats without cushion angle adjustments, and big wheel far away meant straight arms and bowed legs for me but my petite friends didn’t mind as much. I did like the seat heater remembering setting when I switched off.
Rear seat flexibility is excellent, from seatbelt pockets to storage behind and below (get some non-slip mats), and backrests fold whether or not you’ve tilted forward the cushions.
Simple instruments, easy-wipe panels, useful little bins and even wireless charging characterize truck utility. Other less cohesive aspects: Mirror defrost and hazard switch placement seems an afterthought and transmission “power” mode is in-dash, “sport” mode on the lever, while all other drivetrain switches are overhead.
Gripes: With 25-30 mm travel for steering tilt and telescope, why did they bother; trip computer functions are limited; and the touch-entry works only on the driver’s door.
Blind-spot warning comes only with the automatic; the remaining “assistants” are 4WD chassis controls that make novices seem seasoned until it all goes very wrong. If you want to drive off the road, no nanny will tell you otherwise.
Most Tacos include a Go-Pro mount, this TRD Pro capable of delivering the best video. Infotainment performed as desired (no CarPlay or Android) and my non-wireless charging-compatible phone’s non-skid case never stayed on the pad.
“Racing” shocks don’t mean race-car stiff. On the contrary, long front suspension travel soaks up bumps so well only the changing horizon shows how big they were, this the softest-riding Tacoma. The rear is firmer for carting or towing, and body motions are well controlled at considerable speed on pavement, farm or oil roads, or snow-covered fields. Moderate pitch under braking comes with the territory but yaw and body roll are kept in check.
Tires are the compromise, no aggressive mud-treading that generates noise. However, they’re built for strength and cold traction is such Toyota didn’t change them winter testing to the Arctic Circle. The 16-inch wheels give lots of options plus good ride quality and sidewall squish. Also helpful in slow-speed wheeling are the various chassis upgrades (locking differential, crawl control, etc.) available via the overhead console; yes, some make noise but even the best four-wheel driver can’t control each individual brake.
Hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion steering had no problems with rocks or maneuvering but it doesn’t turn any tighter than some full-sizes. It’s slow and deliberate by car standards, just as a 4WD should be. Old-school rear drum brakes they have great parking brake holding power and manage a light utility trailer.
The V6 makes all its power up the rev band while the tuning is for fuel economy. At 110 km/h it’s loafing along around 1,800 rpm; it’s good at maintaining pace on a grade, automatically slotting itself into third at 3,700 revs for an 8 per cent climb but passing requires a solid boot. On 13.2/10.7 l/100km ratings I got 14.9/11.0 averaging 13.0 in moderate conditions, the toll of aero drag, tires and weight.
Most noise—tire, wind, or exhaust (a pleasant hum, not drone) comes from behind. Visibility is fine, with camera and park sensors in back.
To many a $53,000 mid-size seems absurd. But value it against what? A larger, V8 Tundra Double Cab TRD Pro at $58,000, a less-capable Frontier Pro-4X at $40,000, the price-unknown Colorado ZR2, the faster, less truck-able Raptor $15,000-30,000 pricier, or buying a plain Tacoma and modifying it with no warranty? The TRD Pro Taco beats the last two and depreciation seems on the buyers side.
If you’ve the space and place to enjoy it the Pro Taco’s great fun, probably the first to camp and more reliable than whatever it’s towing. It’ll take anything the city dishes out but dimensions and consumption work against it. The bottom line is you can’t do this yourself with any warranty for any less.