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





 

Comments

@Big Al – you babbling baboon your delusions of adequacy are amusing. Al can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.

The issue with the Grand Cherokee Eco diesel is a simple one of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics, one can calculate heat addition during the towing process and heat transfer to the ambient during no load process. In the real cycle, the characteristic of an engine is the result of the measured values determined on the test run in the Grand Cherokee video various speeds for power output, torque, speed, and specific fuel consumption. Entering these measured values on a diagram versus the speed results in the characteristic curves of the Grand Cherokee engine created by the curve of the measured points. However, a distinction should be made between full load and partial load curves.

Full load is defined as the stress that an engine can overcome without a reduction in speed. In full load, the Grand Cherokee engine is stopped on a test run at operating temperature and with fully activated injection pump. In this case the largest possible quantity of fuel is made available. The values determined over the entire speed range under different loads are the basis for the curve progression of torque, speed and specific fuel consumption. Since an engine in daily use is rarely under full load, measurements under partial load are as important. Several measurements should be carried out at constant speed and under various loads of the engine. The availability of a sufficient amount of data makes it possible to establish performance characteristics for the Grand Cherokee engine.

That’s just part of the real issue with the test in the video. The question they should have asked in the test video is why is the thermal efficiency of the auto cycle is higher than Diesel engine? What is the reason for increasing use of Diesel cycle instead of Otto cycle? Any first year mechanic would know that, even one who studied in a sh$t hole like the University of the Sunshine Coast. Oh sorry Al you never went to University; Al’s got Van Gogh's ear for education…lol

Nevertheless, the good thing about Al is that he still loves nature in spite of what it did to him!

@UN LOU BC
How many brain cells did you destroy or what drugs are you on??

Good story?

So, do you want to know the reason why the diesel wasn't performing during this test.

Time.

I'll see if you can work that one out.

I'll give you a hint. If you don't own a modern diesel you will not know the answer. Or if you don't work on a modern diesel you will not know the answer.

The test was loaded.

@Big Al

First off, out need to clean out your years because this statement you made.....

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

was never said by Nathan in the video. His exact words were "We've been getting about 11.3 mpg towing UP HILL with the boat. Now granted that is not is not the Ike Gauntlet. That is UP HILL slow slogging" No where did he say he got 11mpg on level ground like you stated.


I don't know why you bring this "what takes the most energy to move at 65 mph"? Seriously, who thinks of that when they are towing? WTF says "Man, I am sure using a lot energy pulling this thing"? Really? I can bet there are people out there who are going up a hill at 45mph in an Ecodiesel or 3.2L Duratorq wishing they had more power though.

I will and have agreed with you that these small baby diesels are good for fuel mileage, but big boy towing motors they ain't. Their dyno charts make that clearly seen. If you honestly think that this Ecodiesel or your 3.2L Duratorq has more pulling power and pulling performance than a Hemi 5.7, i-Force 5.7, Ecoboost 3.5L, or Ecotec 6.2L then you are crazier then I thought.

****First off, you need to clean out your ears because this statement you made.....

@ALL1
Still trying to state that a gasser is quicker?

I've never stated to the contrary.

You can't beat a diesel for work was my comment.

Diesel is better for work than a EcoBoost.

As for the 11.3mpg. If that's the case then it would be up quite a mountainous route.

As for the speed going up the hill, what caused the speed of the Grand Cherokee to be that slow.

Hint, it wasn't the load. The load did contribute. But another important factor came into play.

I bet you don't find the answer.

@ALL1 and un-LOU BC
I'll give you some 'homework'. I 'learn' you guys. It's good and well to think you understand gearing and you have the ability to decipher power and torque graphs. But what is lacking from those graphs? FE.

In my job this would be a significant oversight.

Anyway, I'll give you some information to chew on.

First up. A Grand Cherokee weighs over 2 tonnes (in Australia). It can accelerate this weight to 60mph in just over 8 seconds.

Now, how can an engine ideally suited to towing perfrom so badly in this test. There can only be two reasons.

1. The test was 'rigged'.

2. The engine and/or drivetrain component was underperforming.

Have a read on diesel engines and you tell me.

.................................................................................................................................................

Diesel engines actually perform better at high altitudes than gasoline engines.
Why? Gasoline engines operate at a very specific ratio of fuel and air. At high altitudes, the air is thinner—literally: there are fewer molecules of air per cubic foot. In the mountains, then, gasoline engines have to add less fuel to keep the ratio perfect, which affects performance.

"But a diesel engine runs fuel-lean; you don't have to keep the ratio perfect," Ciatti said. Diesel engines have turbochargers, which are pumps driven by exhaust gas. They add more air to the combustion chamber, and more air means more fuel can be added. At altitude, it can pull in more air and more fuel, and thus gets more power than gasoline engines can. Turbochargers don't use extra energy; they run off thermodynamically "free" energy that would be lost as exhaust if not used.

"Drive a diesel at altitude and you'll see other cars struggling while you zip past," Ciatti said. "The effect is very noticeable."


Here's something to chew on as well. What to check on a diesel engine producing low power.

1-check injection pump/pressure
2-check nozzle tip/pressure
3-check turbo charger
4-check fuel filter
5-check flixeble hose all of intake connection
6-check air leak of intake manifold via from intercooler to turbocharger
7-check the engine compression
8-check if the smoke are white late of timing and water mix in fuel
9-check if the smoke are black anvance of timing.

And there is one thing which I originally mentioned that could be wrong and it's the most likely cause of 'low' power from a diesel engine.

We know a diesel will have less performance loss at altitude than a gasoline engine due to the fact is doesn't have a specific stoichiometric point.

Engines with a higher compression ratio can run leaner, ie a diesel.

Even without a turbo a diesel will not have the same efficiency losses as a gasoline engine at altitude.

Work out the rest and tell me if I'm wrong.

Go to school, I do this for a living.

I even understand the metering of fuel to specific gravity of the fuel.

Remember I'm parvenu and I specialised in engines.

@ALL1
From what I can gather there is something significantly wrong with the test to give the result it delivered.

This isn't due to the fact I'm 'diesel biased' either.

A 3 litre turbo diesel will not achieve the speed a Hemi would towing the trailer up that pass.

But looking at the engine it shouldn't be too much slower either. The diesel grand is quicker than the Pentastar Grand. The diesel will not have the same performance loss as the Pentastar or a Hemi powered Grand.

It should have been quicker than the Chev in the comparison that was linked on this site a few months ago with the Frontier towing the boat up the same hill.

Something is amiss.

As I stated the only thing I can think of is the Grand Cherokee was driven the next morning with a cold engine.

I do know that until a diesel is adequately warm it will not produce the same power as a 'hot' engine.

Even in my BT50 I do think I only have 2/3s of my power on a cold morning start.

Excuses, excuses, excuses. You are overlooking one important reason why the Grand Cherokee in the test performed the way it it did and it is an apparent downside of a diesel, horsepower. While having more torque, diesels are known for having less horsepower than their gas counterparts. Remember torque is what gets you to the speed you want quickly; horsepower is what keeps you there.

With only 240hp available at it's peak of 3,600 rpm, you will not be winning any speed races. What makes it even worse is what I stated before of how the Ecodiesel looses about 15-20% of it's peak torque by the time it gets to peak horsepower. This plays a big role as to why it was loosing speed so quickly. As Nathan said in the video and others have stated on other reviews of the very same engine, the torque will get you up to speed easier than other gasers with less torque, but loosing momentum in keeping you there is another problem.

@ALL1.. and I'd also add that I got 15-16 MPGs hand calculated with the load. The "hills" I'm talking about vary between 2% and 6% grade. Total trip was 250 miles one way on both occasions.

The greatest part of the entire trip was pulling into a Flying J truck stop for diesel fuel on the TN/KY state line and having about a dozen people come out of the store to look at my Jeep and the load I was pulling. Visually it looked ridiculous because the trailer and built Tacoma were much larger than the Liberty CRD.

That's why I have a hard time believing the video. These little diesels pull like mad and when they are worked hard that's when they really shine.

@ALL1
I think you have it assup. Torque doesn't give you acceleration. A simple way to show this is by explaining a lever.

Double the length of the lever and you double torque. How much more speed is required to maintain rpm on a lever twice it's original length? Remember a crankshaft is a lever, so is a wheel.

You need to know these basic concepts before you discuss even gear ratios as well.

What makes power? What is power? I think you'd better start with the basics.

Go to school or at a minimum use the net. But don't become a DiM on these sites.

If you really are very interested in physics and mechanics I do suggest you broaden your horizons.

Take a gamble on education. Invest in yourself.

@All1 and @Big Al

Big Al's remark may be correct in Newtonian terms but I prefer to respond in NHRA terms:

Question: When was last time a Pro Stock racer lost the race because he had too much torque?

If torque wasn't an issue those guys in Pro Stock wouldn't be spending the big bucks to hollow-out those big blocks to over 500 cubic inches.

Since drag racing is all about acceleration, my question is germane.

@papa jim
At 10 000 ft say a 400hp gas engine will lose around 1/3 of it's power or a bit over 130hp. This is now 270hp.

But another factor comes into play as the ambient air pressure drops. You will not drop your gas engine's torque at the same rate. You might lose 15% of your torque (I don't know the figure, this I plucked, but might be accurate).

So, what does the gas engines characteristics now look like?

Even though the diesel has a turbo it will lose efficiency due to altitude, but nowhere near the same rate as the naturally aspirated gas engine.

I don't know the efficiency of the VM diesel at 10 000ft.

I would think the VM diesel compared to a generic V8 would have a similar power and torque output at high altitudes. The V8 would have a small hp advantage and the diesel a small torque advantage.

So, say a modern V6 gas engine has 300hp and 300ftlb of torque would give you roughly 200hp and 250ftlb of torque.

The Nissan Frontier in the last test towing the boat would of had less than 200hp and 250ftlb of torque.

The VM will surpass this by a long shot.

@ Big Al

Wow, I thought your were smarter than this. You talk a big game, but have been found wanting.


So all these people are wrong?

This one explains it in simple terms for you to understand, and it has pictures!!
http://www.carthrottle.com/the-difference-between-torque-and-hp-explained/

http://www.autotrader.com/research/article/69310/a-simple-guide-to-horsepower-and-torque.jsp


http://www.hotrod.com/techarticles/hrdp_0401_torque_horsepower_guide/viewall.html

http://www.edmunds.com/car-technology/the-twist-on-torque.html

So I will say it again...... Torque is how quick, and horsepower is how fast. There is a difference. Learn it!

@ALL1
Torque is not quick. Torque is a measure of effort, not speed.

You can be a schmuck if you want or you can learn.

@ALL1
Here's a simpler way of describing torque.

It has nothing to do with how quick or speed. That's time and distance. What is time and distance?

Torque is effort. I can apply 300ftlb to a torque wrench. How quick am I? A Pentastar can apply 300ftlb to a crankshaft how quick is it.

Which has the most torque? Torque measures effort applied.

@big Al

"Torque is not quick. Torque is a measure of effort, not speed"

As Papa Jim said earlier you are talking in Newtonian terms. I know that torque is force applied. I am talking about torque in relation to how much an engine has. If you have two engine with the same horsepower, same Dyne peaks, but one had more torque that the other. The one with more torque will be quicker. It is that simple.

@ALL1
There is only one definition for torque.

Not some backyard jibber, or bull$hit.

This is not a debating issue.

I am talking about how torque affects vehicles and their performance, NOT it's definition. If you can't understand that and want to keep spewing things to make you feel better about yourself then yes you need to GTFO of the convo.

So.. TRD Pro in Canada soon please?!



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