Toyota typically grabs attention at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas with spectacular custom versions of its trucks. One of this year’s head turners is likely to be the Toyota Tacoma X-Runner RTR, which will feature the 5.7-liter V-8 from the full-size Tundra pickup stuffed under the hood of the midsize Tacoma.
RTR is short for "Ready to Race." The hero truck started life as a stock 2011 Tacoma X-Runner, the street performance version of Toyota's best-selling small truck.
The X-Runner's standard powertrain is a 236-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 with a six-speed manual transmission that can run zero to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. The 381-horsepower eight-cylinder RTR should be considerably faster, especially in the hands of professional drag racer Antron Brown, whom Toyota has brought in to test the RTR’s prowess in a straight line.
We haven't seen the Tacoma RTR yet, but we're told it will sport plenty of Toyota Racing Development's performance parts and that the 5.7 is unmodified except for relocating the exhaust to fit in the Tacoma.
At a time when Ford and GM are getting ready to ax their small rigs in the U.S., project vehicles like the Tacoma RTR show that Toyota remains focused on midsize trucks. It reminds us of the 2002 Ford Ranger SVT Lightning Bolt. That’s certainly a good thing.