2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: First Drive

Tocoma desert II

With a strong history in desert racing, Toyota is trying to shore up its off-road credibility with the next step in its latest 4x4 package. Toyota is trying a more holistic approach, meaning it is offering the new TRD Pro package for both of its small and large pickup trucks as well as the highly capable 4Runner. This new package, available for 2015 Tacomas, Tundras and 4Runners, is a good step up from the previous TRD T/X Baja Series for the Tacoma, with better on- and off-road feel, and a more extensive and impressive complete off-road package.

We recently had the chance to get behind the wheel of some of the first 2015 Tacoma TRD Pro pickups in a remote section of the Nevada desert, where cruising through the wide-open dirt trails can push the chassis and suspension of the most fortified four wheelers to their limits. But before we talk about how the new Tacoma TRD Pro performed, let's cover a little background.

Toyota started getting serious about its off-road credibility about two years ago, when it introduced the TRD T/X Baja Series Tacoma. We had our first chance to drive the truck Texas. This package had sophisticated Bilstein shocks (the rears set up with dual reservoirs for better cooling and control) and unique front springs that offered more ride height and wheel travel. Unfortunately, that setup, although great for absorbing and swallowing ruts and holes at higher speeds (above 45 mph), tended to beat you up at lower speeds with front and rear spring and damping rates that were a bit too stiff.


New Level of Comfort

This new Tacoma TRD Pro setup takes the Baja package to the next level in several ways. First, TRD engineers have done an amazing job of creating stronger, yet softer, front springs that deliver gobs of control but don't beat you up. The front and rear shock absorbers (although similar to the Baja) have been retuned to provide much stronger and faster droop and compression capabilities to offer better performance on pavement (control) and off-road (cushion).


Tacoma rear tire II


The wheel and tire combination is essentially the same as the Baja package, with a bead-lock type of aluminum wheel with a wider offset to give the truck a more formidable stance. Tires remain the popular 265/70R16 BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO choice. TRD Pro also includes a cat-back exhaust, blacked-out exterior badging, and several unique TRD accents inside the truck (floormats and shift knob). Modified skidplating is also included.

TRD Pro will be offered in the Access and double-cab versions, with either a manual or automatic transmission mated to the 4.0-liter V-6. All TRD Pro Tacomas will have a 4x4 drivetrain and be stacked on top of the existing TRD Off-Road Package. Pricing will come in the fall, but we expect pricing to be close to the previous Baja pricing structure.


On the Trail

Most of our time behind the wheel of the Tacoma TRD Pro was on rutted and heavily graveled dirt roads through desolate rolling hills outside Jean, Nev. From slower to more enthusiastic speeds on the chattered roads, we noted few situations where the tires felt like they left the ground or lost their tracking. The front springs are definitely softer than the Baja setup and make for a much more comfortable and controlled ride. Throttle response is unchanged yet is plenty capable of making the Tacoma TRD Pro jump or snap around a dirt corner. The tires are a big standout here as well.


Tacoma front shock II


On the "slow" trail section of our drive it was like we were transported south of the border where we were cruising the Baja 1000. We ran a few miles of loose sand and rutted gullies in a dry river wash where we encountered large sand berms, brush and boulders — all with a kind of wincing trepidation. It took us a while to recalibrate our bodies and brains not to brace for the big thump or unnerving impact that never showed up. Ruts that we thought would have us smacking into the skidplates and bumper were swallowed with ease, and even when we did hit the occasional immovable object, the force was absorbed progressively with minimal effect. Likewise, the rear of the truck did a superb job of not allowing an empty bed to bounce around when the road got choppy. On a brutal section of the trail, our test truck (a jet-black double-cab short bed) absorbed rocks, ruts and desert moguls as if they weren't there (to a certain degree, the only other vehicle we've ever experienced that in was the Ford SVT Raptor). The total package is impressive and a great addition to the Tacoma lineup, but it's not perfect.


Wish List for Next TRD Pro Package

While we were impressed by the significant (albeit incremental) improvements to this new Tacoma package, but we still wish Toyota had gone just a touch further. Yes, this is a more harmonious and serious off-roading package than ever before, with better overall upgrades than we've ever seen. And, yes, with the exception of Ford's SVT Raptor, this is just about the best grouping of off-road parts and pieces in a midsize package that any truckmaker has offered. Still, small things like a simple electronic switch that offers a smarter and faster-reacting traction control algorithm (for sand, snow or mud) shouldn't be difficult to provide. It's just electronics, right? If desert running is truly what this package owns, then why not offer a heavier-duty air filter or intake design? A full-size spare tire that matches the rest of the tires would be a good option for this off-road capable setup. Or maybe highlight a heavier-duty spare tire jack. Seems like that would be obvious.

And what about some type of navigation screen integration that allows TRD Pro customers to record or keep track of how many miles are traveled off-road or in snow or on sand? The electronics on the truck simply needs to include a wider selection of traction-control parameters to give the spinning tires more choices. Those small changes would help create credibility that would put this truck in the realm of Land Rover, Jeep and (yes, of course) the Raptor.

We applaud the efforts of the TRD team that worked on this project and concentrated so much on wheel travel and overall control and comfort, but we sure hope this is just the first (OK, the second) step in a longer line of stronger off-road and on-road-capable suspension packages coming our way. Toyota has proven that the Tacoma is a wonderful canvas for creative ideas, and we're sure the next generation will offer even more, but we want to see improvements coming faster and integrated into the entire truck - not just the bolted-on parts - especially if the midsize segment continues to heat up. This is a great step in the right direction, but creativity needs to move to the next level.

To read more about the TRD Pro offerings, click here.

Manufacturer images; Cars.com photos by Mark Williams


Tacoma grille II

Tacoma front II

Tacomas wide II

Tacoma badges II

Tacoma front II

Tacoma dust



That's a really cool truck! Looks good with dirt on it too.

Mark do you know if the bump-stops have been upgraded?
How did the rear e-locker preform?

How about a totally redesigned Tacoma? It's only been 10 years Toyota. You're repackaging old crap..

Dapetik, nothing wrong with the Tacoma. Its a tuff truck, nothing new is needed.

Motor Trend just put an article out regarding the Tacoma TRD Pro, Tundra TRD Pro, and 4Runner TRD Pro. They were impressed with the Tundra package but not so much with the Tacoma and 4Runner packages. They felt that not enough was done to the Tacoma and 4Runner to make them stand out. They referenced that a Toyota engineer commented that he is ready for a comparison between the Tundra TRD Pro and the Ford F-150 S.V.T. Raptor. I would like to see this!


There are spy shots of the 2016 Toyota HiLux in the "Old World" markets. Some hint that it could be on the global platform/design that could also be our Tacoma. I'm crossing my fingers...


The link to the story

I am a Chevy Guy first, but i like this Tacoma. I hope that GM is reading about this Toyota option, because the New Chevy Colorado need it, Hell GM give us the ZR2 with a real off road option, you did it with Hummer H3T.

Joe - I have a Tacoma. They build great quality vehicles but Toyota takes their share of the market for granted. Hope the new GM will shake things up. No reason they couldn't have upgraded the 4.0 for a few more HP and dropped in a 6 Spd auto for better MPG. I could have a full-size truck for the MPG I'm getting.

Liam - I wouldn't hold my breath, Toyota loves 'bland' vehicles.

Look at the third picture of the constant velocity boot stretched out waiting to split after 25,000 miles. Love that independent front suspension...not! I'll take a Super Duty Ford or Heavy Duty Ram 4X4 with a solid front axle, thank you.

Also, if you look at that 3rd pic you will notice that rust is starting to form on the welds of the lower control arm. Toyota uses a coating on their steel suspension pieces and Frames that doesn't adhear to the welds very well. So even on a new Tacoma, Tundra, 4runner, ect, every Frame weld and steel suspension has light surface rust on it. If Toyota spent a few more $$ on their coating, we wouldn't be seeing 6 month old Toyota BoFs covered in rust after just 1 winter. You would think Toyota would have learned it's lesson with rust issues, but no.

If you go to a dealership and look under any Toyota Body on Frame vehicle, you will see that EVERY Weld on the Frame has rust on it. That is sad...

@Louis o. I think a ZR2 would be really cool. I still see tons of S10 ZR2's around. They have quite the following.

that's interesting, I've never scene OEM tires on a brand new truck come with the white walls turned to the inside.

@jack - the Ford Raptor comes with the exact same tire. Blackwall out.

@Buy American or say Bye to America That CV angle isn’t that bad. Toyota CVs can handle more angle than their domestic counter parts from my personal experience. 3” lifted Tacoma’s have worse angles than that 3rd picture and majority of those people trade the truck off before they have to replace a CV boot/shaft.

@Andy I look under brand new Fords at my local dealership and the driveshaft has surface rust on it already. Only the steering stop and lower ball-joint bolt is rusting in the 3rd picture. From what I can tell, every truck produced today has rust, whether it is on the steering stops, driveshafts, or the hub. I have yet to see a new truck that’s on the dealer’s lot that doesn’t have some surface rust underneath it.

@ John

The constant velocity joint strength was not my concern with that minimum shaft angle. The stretched boot is what I was pointing out. Spit grease when the boot splits is the issue. Not going to have that problem with a solid axle using universal joints.

Ya, because all the desert runners know solid front axles work best for hauling @ss in the woops. You know this is why the Raptor uses what now?

"Old World" refers to Europe. Noticed a huge height difference between the 2WD model and the more common 4WD

@Robert Ryan
Oh, sorry, Rob. But I knew the shots came from Australia. I still can't believe they're running 5-lug wheels on 2WD and 6-lug wheels on 4WD; I was hoping they all had the 6-lug rims. From what it looks like, even with the wraps, it already looks better than the Tacoma. It has the 2007 - 2013 Tundra look to it.

Lipstick on a pig....5 speed, poor MPG, old engine technology...shame on you toyota!

This package offers off-roaders a warrantied package that is well integrated into the total package.
Toyota does need to update their trucks but they are slow to change. The Colorado/Canyon may be enough to put pressure on Toyota.

I know it is off topic but did anyone checked out the Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel Ike Gauntlet run they just did? Wow, I know it is only a 3.45:1 ratio, but is much lighter than a Ram 1500 and it has the same engine and trans which would be a close indication of what the Ram would do. I don't think it would do the 7,400lbs Jeep has rated it to tow if it can't even pull 5,700lbs without dropping to 45 mph. But at least it got good fuel mileage for those that are concerned with that. It is just lacking on the power side. Can't wait until they do the Ram 1500 with an Ecodiesel.


20year old technology.
"Toyota is trying to shore up its off-road credibility.." Try shoreing
Up your on-road credibility.
Black painted wheels are not a substitute for a modern 6+ speed tranny and 30 mpg, REAL mpg not marketing BS mileage.

-please offer the double cab TRD toyota in Canada WITH A SHORT BOX

TRD appear to do pretty good work.

In Australia I think TRD was tried out once and it was a flop. It couldn't compete.

Toyota still sells a significant amount of 'Toyota' accessories like bullbars, driving lights, etc.

Most of our utes are modified by aftermarket companies like TJM and ARB.

That's a really cool truck, the wind blows and its cool too!

@ALL 1
The Jeep Cherokee has been overheating and showing electronic gliches . Needs a bit mire debugging.


It takes some imagination to refer to anything about the long-in-the tooth Tacoma and call it new.

Since 2004, what's new:

Drivetrain? Nope
Looks? Nope
Target market? Nope

The Tacoma pictured in this story could have been photographed at almost any time during the last 5-10 years.

Instead, Toyota has been blessed by its competitors.

Ford, GM and Mopar brought a pocket-knife (penknife?) to the gunfight during that time, and Nissan--while having a decent alternative--simply doesn't have the muscle to compete in North America with Toyota.

@Robert Ryan
I appears watching the video the tacho didn't go much above 2 500rpm.

I might watch it again.


Odd. My '05 Jeep with the 2.8L I-4 diesel towed 7,000ish lbs. on two occasions in the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky and would maintain 60 MPH in 5th gear with the 545RFE transmission.

I'm shocked that 100 lb/ft more torque and 3 more gears struggled so badly in the new EcoDiesel.


Wow, you were not over the 2005 Jeep Liberty's 5,000lb towing capacity at all. I have a had time believing your statement especially from my personal experiences towing a 4,000lb boat and trailer in a 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD. A grade 2 hill would make it loose momentum and start to loose speed. It was fine for flat land towing(although it was slow at it),but it did not like the hills.

"the 2.8L I-4 diesel towed 7,000ish lbs. on two occasions in the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky and would maintain 60 MPH in 5th gear"


I have three words for you in response: DOWN HILL ONLY

@papa jim
I have towed 3.6 tonnes behind a D20 diesel at 110kph.

The pickup had a 120hp, 200ftlb engine. A QD32.

Do you know where I live we have trucks with a pultry 600hp towing over 200 tonnes at 110kph?

200 tonnes is over 440 000lbs, this is not an error, this with only 600hp. We have the biggest road registered trucks in the world up here. Makes HDs look feeble.

That's like having 6hp for every 4 400lb.

Hmmm........????? Doh.

Kind of interesting to hear the principle Toyota design engineer speak about his motivation behind the TRD Pro package. Just happen to find this video...


@Big Al,

Yes, but everyone knows you are a super-human being and your trucks are specially modified, like the batmobile.

None of us are worthy of your greatness!

@papa jim - you don't know the half of it papa jim, here's Big Al exiting a famous Australian establishment....


@Papa Jim

You took his comment the same way I did. We have trucks that our rigged out like that too. In fact, a subsidiary of the company I work for fabricates Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks with 600+hp and 2,000+lb-ft of torque engines specially for the purpose of heavy hauling.

One f the companies we build for is is Contractors Cargo who have hauled over 700,000lbs --> http://www.contractorscargo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=108

Or Energy Transport that hauled this 1.4 million pound (yes, I said 1.4 million) shovel---> http://www.energytran.com/portfolio-items/1-4-million-pound-shovel-transport/

Also, you and I know that even a Dual Overhead Hamster Cage can tow on level ground or go 60mph down hill. It takes an engine and truck with real "cojones" (<---Balls for those that don't know) to do it up hill and keep speed.

I think I know big al problem he can't afford the 60 bucks for 30 pack of beers in oz, so he rags on us till his drunken butt can use oz welfare dayto get beer or booze and now feed his kids. Must be a bitch pay 60 bucks to think huh big al lmao.

@ALL1 Papa Jim I may hate retard from oz guts and as I said before whatS gearing? did the jeep have? A 5 hp Briggs lawn mower and pull just bout any thing with the right gearing. Yeah big gay al forgets to say want mpg he get when them stressed out 3.0L ARE PULLING THEM LOADS.

@ALL1 - One thing that is a problem with the Ecodiesel is the power band. If one looks at a dyno reading it shows a fairly narrow band.

There was on really interesting point that they made which fits several of our discussions with the Rambo clan. The tow ratings do not mean sh!t is the cargo capacity isn't there to support the weight. The Grand Cherokee was overloaded with 3 adults on board plus the tongue weight. It wasn't even at the max tow rating for the vehicle. If they had a max trailer even with an equalizer, they'd only be able to carry 2 passengers and zero gear.

@Johnny Doe

All Jeep Grand Cherokees with the Ecodiesel have a 3.45 axle ratio coupled with an 8 speed transmission. Although that is not the best rear end for towing, the 8 speed should have made up for the taller rear axle.

@Lou BC

Yeah, you are right, it is a very narrow and peaky band for a towing diesel. Soon after the torque peaks at 2,000rpm, it starts to go down fairly quickly and it dramatically drops after 3,000 rpm. By the time its horsepower peaks at 3,600 rpm, it has already lost close to 20% of it's peak torque. This is unlike the 5.9L Cummins and 7.3L Powerstrokes that had similar peak numbers 10-15 years ago. They at least had a flatter torque curve retaining most of their torque throughout the rpms making it more usable. By the time you got to peak horsepower, you may have only lost 3-5% of your peak torque at the most. This is why those engines were better towing engines and this Ecodiesel is not as good as those were even with similar peak numbers.

Looking at the dyno of the 3.2L diesel that will be going into the Transit, it seems to be the same as the Ecodiesel how it falls off quickly. The only dyno charts I could find of this engine were rear wheel dynos taken from tuners like this one http://www.kw-systems.co.za/ford-ranger/ from BT-50s and Rangers. If you look at the dyno from that page you will see torque starts to nose dive fairly quickly a few hundred rpms after peak. http://www.kw-systems.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Ford-3.2-Dyno-Report.jpg

I was actually surprised at the time, speed and FE for the Grand Cherokee. As you pointed out the final drive wasn't that great, but you can't translate that over to a Ram as the Ram has a much lower diff ratio (remember the lengths you went to arguing over diff ratios ;)

The tacho is quite fuzzy to get an accurate view. But it appears to running at quite a low rpm.

As for my engine it runs out of puff at 3 500rpm, the tacho redlines at just over 4 000rpm but that figure is optimistic.

But it will run all the way to 3 500rpm in top. I drove up to Darwin yesterday and when I overtook a road train I got up to 185kph, but it was running out of breath fast.

I have read much better reviews regarding the towing with the Grand Cherokee. The 11mpg is quite low as there is an article showing the Grand towing over it's max and returning 18mpg average. That's sitting on 65mph on the highway and a 50/50 split city. That was driving in flat country, but still a good FE result when towing over 7 000lbs.

I would like to see other tow tests with the Grand Cherokee. I've towed a 22' centre console fishing boat with 180 litres of fuel, beer and gear in the boat and personal belongings in the back of my BT50 with 4 adults in it.

With the trailer I didn't speed, I sat on 110kph and only sped up for overtaking only going up to 140kph or so then. Trailers aren't designed for high sustained speeds.

Here is the rest of my comment. I wouldn't post to well on PUTC.

Here are three tow reviews. The first show the diesel Grand is getting between 25%-33% better FE than an equivalent Hemi Durango. This one show a Grand towing an Airstream and getting 16mpg.


This link is a tow test with the Hemi powered Grand. It uses 16 litres per hundred (17mpg) on the highway (not towing) and uses up to 25 litres per hundred (11.2mpg) around town towing and towing at 55-62mph.


@Big Al

One word for today: Germane.

Look it up.

@ Big Al

I am glad you mentioned gearing. It does play a big role in the capabilities and fuel economy of a vehicle. As you know(or should know) you can multiply an engines torque output to the wheels through gearing, but you cannot multiply its horsepower.

Your BT-50 comes in only two rear axle ratios. A 3.55 or a 3.73 which the automatic transmission it would be couples with would be the 6-speed 6R80 (this is the same transmission in the F-150s BTW). Your engine output is 200hp and 350lb-ft of torque.

Ford 6R80: 1st-4.17 2nd-2.34 3rd-1.52 4th-1.14 5th-0.86 6th-0.69

The Grand Cherokee in the video has only one axle ratio available with an Ecodiesel which is a 3.45. It is hooked up to an 8-speed 8HP70 transmission with an engine power output of 240hp and 420lb-ft.

ZF 8HP70: 1st-4.696 2nd-3.130 3rd-2.104 4th-1.667 5th-1.285 6th-1.000 7th-0.839 8th-0.667

When comparing the two gear for gear, the GC 3.45 rear axle with the 8-speed is actually has more torque multiplication than a BT-50 with a 3.73 rear axle and 6-speed auto as you can see below.

---GC with a 3.45 rear axle---
1st: 16.20 x 420 lb-ft
2nd: 10.80 x 420 lb-ft
3rd: 7.25 x 420 lb-ft
4th: 5.75 x 420 lb-ft
5th: 4.43 x 420 lb-ft
6th: 3.45 x 420 lb-ft
7th: 2.89 x 420 lb-ft
8th: 2.30 x 420 lb-ft

---BT50 with a 3.73 rear axle---
1st: 15.55 x 350 lb-ft
2nd: 8.72 x 350 lb-ft
3rd: 5.66 x 350 lb-ft
4th: 4.25 x 350 lb-ft
5th: 3.20 x 350 lb-ft
6th: 2.57 x 350 lb-ft

Not only does this Ecodiesel Grand Cherokee with a 3.45 rear axle has more horsepower and torque by a good margin, it also has more torque multiplication than an automatic BT50 with a 3.73 and a 3.2L diesel. It is not just about the rear axle gear ration, but the gearing as a whole. It would be a safe assumption that an Automatic BT50 3.2L with a 3.73 rear axle would do worse going up this mountain road towing the same load than the more powerful and better geared Grand Cherokee did.

I am not saying a small diesel does not get better fuel mileage than a bigger V8 or Ecoboost. I am just saying it does not have the "cojones" that they do to which is plain to see. It all boils down to whether you want more power or fuel mileage. If you go for one then you will sacrifice the other which has just about always been the case with any engine. As I have stated before, these small diesel are tuned more for fuel mileage than to be a real towing diesel. By your standards it may get the job done just fine, but not by mine.

@ALL1 and papajim...

NOPE. UPHILL on the interstate and the state highways of TN and KY. With a grown man in the passenger seat. Item towed was a double axle car hauler with a built Toyota Tacoma 4x4 strapped to it. Didn't even fall out of overdrive.

I did this with two of these Jeeps...first one was a Sport CRD that was bone stock. Second was with a Limited CRD with Green Diesel Engineering tune on it and upgraded Mopar torque coverter.

And pssstt... the CRD is rated for 7,000 lbs. in Europe. It only got 5,000 lbs. in the USA because of the Feds and their requirements.

The Jeep had NO trouble with the load. I did use a trailer brake controller on both Jeeps.

There is no way the new EcoDiesel should have any trouble at all with a 6,000 lb. boat. I call B.S. on that video

I'm not asking for your storeman's knowledge on gearing and ratio's as a warehouse worker. It's great you are wanting to understand 'gearing'.

I sort of 'understand' what you are describing.

I'm also not discussing the EcoBoost in which inevitably this discussion turned towards.

I'm stating I'm surprised at the performance of the VM Grand Cherokee in both speed and FE during this test.

With your knowledge of gearing and with the available information on horsepower and torque what should the speed of this VM powered Grand Cherokee be during this test?

Or are you just having a 'shot'? ;)


Really, so I guess this guy is just making things up when he states he dropped down to 45 mph up steep hills towing just over 5,000 lbs in his Jeep Liberty CRD? And you were easily doing 60 mph towing 7,000 lbs up hills?


Sorry, but your story just doesn't seem believable to me. Either that or our ideas of what a steep incline is are completely different. As I said before, you can pull just about anything on a flat or slight incline road. It takes a truck and engine with real "cajones" to pull a trailer up a steep 3% grade or more without loosing much speed.

I totally agree with you on the video.

The video might be made by one of those 'anti diesel' types. But in all seriousness if this guy who did the test understood diesels he would have realised somethings was amiss during testing.

I'm attempting to get our current resident 'gear' guru to explain to me what the speed (roughly) the vehicle should be able to achieve going up that hill.

You are showing some 'inexperience' in your comparison.

You just explained to me in simple terms the difference in numbers regarding hp and torque.

Now what would the drag of a caravan vs drag of a boat on a trailer?

I do know the Grand Cherokee will use around 16-17mpg towing a large 26' caravan.

Now you have a 2.8 VM with less power and torque than my engine moving a CARAVAN at the same speed as the boat up apparently a 'steep' incline.

Disregarding the hill, ie, running on level ground, which load will take the most energy to move at 65mph?

What WXman and myself are stating is the test appears to be loaded or the vehicle isn't performing correctly.

Just the statement from the guy in the video that the Grand Cherokee is returning 11mpg on level ground makes this apparent.

How about Toyota finally make a decision on the wheel well? That half-round half-squared well has always been an eyesore to me.

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