Has Toyota finally built a proper Ranger Raptor rival?
As you might know by now, the all-new 2024 Toyota Tacoma debuted earlier today. Toyota will be offering an extensive range of models, but at the tippy-top of the range, you'll note two similar but completely different vehicles: The TRD Pro and the Trailhunter.
This was by design, as Toyota wanted to give the various trim levels more distinct personalities, and nowhere is this more evident than in the differences between the Trailhunter and the TRD Pro. We cover the Trailhunter in a separate article, but here are the five most important things you need to know about the TRD Pro.
Before we get to the special elements, here is a quick run-down of the basic specs.
The two top models are only available with the i-Force Max turbocharged four-cylinder, assisted by a 48-horsepower electric motor housed in the eight-speed automatic gearbox. A 1.87 kWh battery powers the electric motor.
The total system output is 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, available from just 1,700 rpm. It easily betters the 278 hp and 265 lb-ft naturally aspirated V6 in the old model, which means this hybrid is the most powerful Tacoma ever produced.
Now let's do a deep dive into those five coolest features we alluded to.
Toyota's press release explains the existence of the TRD Pro with two words: "Go Fast." As the most powerful Tacoma ever, it has that sorted. But what about the Ford Ranger Raptor? The new Taco follows shortly after the all-new Ranger made its US debut. The Ranger Raptor is the obvious target, and at first glance, Toyota missed the mark. The Ford is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 producing 405 hp.
But then you notice that Toyota's hybrid powertrain produces more torque from a lot lower down. The Ford's peak torque of 430 lb-ft only arrives at 5,650 rpm, while the Toyota already puts down 465 lb-ft at a mere 1,700 rpm.
Is Toyota serious about going after a Raptor? It's not something the Japanese brand has shown interest in before, but it will be cool to see how this obvious comparison plays out.
Toyota says the TRD Pro elevates Tacoma's "desert running attributes." which is marketing speak for jumping. Previous versions were just standard Tacos with Fox shocks, but this new model has been designed as a complete package from the start. That has always been the secret to Ford's success with its go-faster off-road models.
The TRD Pro gets red aluminum front TRD upper control arms to optimize front geometry and reduce unsprung weight. It also has Fox internal bypass, 2.5-inch, manual modal Quick Switch 3 (QS3) shocks. These shocks boast three different compression damping settings via dials on the shock bodies. This is useful for hooligan antics and when you're towing and want a firmer rear end. Fox also provided Internal Floating Piston bump stops, and we all know what those are for. It's time to go jumping!
All of this is built around the new multilink rear suspension with coil springs instead of leaf springs, which should already go a long way toward making the car more grippy and less bouncy.
The TRD Pro is two inches higher off the ground at the front and 1.5 inches taller at the rear. This obviously raises the center of gravity, but Toyota offset this by making the TRD Pro three inches wider than the standard SR5. That gives it a much bigger track for improved grip.
Toyota uses a part-time four-wheel-drive system to send the power to whatever surface you're hooning on. The 4WD system then sends the power to a set of flow-formed TRD wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T rubber.
Combined with the suspension setup, the above should result in a grippy rock crawler and a capable high-speed desert monster.
Forget the "Toyota" lettering badge at the front and the "TRD Pro" stamped into the tailgate. There are far more exciting design details to focus on.
These include the high-clearance ARB rear metal bumper with contrasting red recovery hooks and an aluminum TRD skid plate at the front. There's also a new integrated LED light bar that works in tandem with the LED headlights. For an extra flooding of light, the tuck also has Rigid white LED fog lamps.
But appearing menacing and sounding the same is a bit different, and here the TRD Pro might struggle to match the Ranger Raptor. Toyota does equip the TRD Pro with a performance air intake to make it sound a bit more fruity on the inside, while a TRD cat-back dual-tipped exhaust should make it sound nice on the outside.
The IsoDynamic Performance Seats are a segment first, and you'll love them if you have a bad back or simply like staying in place as you bounce around over the dunes.
The patent on these seats is still pending, but as you can see in the image below, they use an air-over-oil shock absorber system fitted to the seatback to dampen body movement and keep the head and neck stable. It is entirely tunable depending on the driver and front passenger's weight, or it can be shut off completely.
While the reason for these seats existing is pretty apparent, Toyota also claims they stabilize the driver's field of vision and reduce fatigue on rugged trails. Having been on the receiving end of many off-road pickups with leaf springs at the rear, we're looking forward to experiencing these magnificent seats more than anything else.
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