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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Review: too improved?

The first major Tacoma redesign in decades has yielded an advanced and different kind of Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road review

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road review by The Road Beat

Words and pictures: Mitchell Weitzman

Toyota has finally redesigned the aging Tacoma pickup. Literally decades since the last major overhaul, the new Tacoma has an all-new look, engine, and (unfortunately) pricing, too, in a quest to modernize this segment stalwart of midsize trucks. Faithful fans of the Tacoma may hate it, such is the departure from past popular models, but there's now reason to legitimately recommend one, too. However, through its vast revamp, some of the charming character has sadly gone missing. For those counting their beans, this TRD Off-Road model was heavily-optioned and cost a shocking $54,748.

Pricing is indeed scary on the all-new generation of Tacoma. While the starting price is still below well $40,000 for basic work transit, the desirable models have seen substantial increases in retail entry, with the top-dog Trailhunter and TRD Pro models now carrying sticker prices of, wait-for-it, over $65,000. Yes, a Tacoma can now cost over $70,000 after tax and license, not to mention the markups that dealers like to carry on the special models. These trucks sure are capable and carry an armament of impressive off-road kit, but a sticker price of $65,000, for a Tacoma? You've got to be kidding me. This particular Blue Crush example has a starting price of $42,900 before the $8,800 Premium package (SofTex heated and ventilated seats, 14" center display, JBL stereo, moon roof, power open and close tailgate), a$1,230 for a sway bar disconnect system, obligatory $1,495 destination fee, and a few other hundreds of dollars of random items creeps the price right up to below $55,000.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

Suddenly, 55 grand for this TRD Off-Road model seems like a good deal then, even if it itself has a clinically diagnosed case of sticker shock. This does beg the question: when did affordable Toyotas command such a premium? Granted, this is a significantly more capable edition than the prior model year TRD Off-Road, being more in-line with the old TRD Pro in terms of mud-running aptitude.

Okay, pricing out of the way, let's talk about the big differences you'll notice and also not notice. The look is entirely new to the Tacoma lineup and is derived from the full-size Tundra pickup. However, the new design language easily fits the proportions of the Tacoma better, though the new edgey box motif certainly isn't as timeless as the impossibly cool Tacomas of old. Inside, the cabin is heavily improved in terms of technology and quality. No longer is this a bargain basement interior of a cheap, throwaway rental car, but rather a pretty decent place to be (and more premium than the nicest Honda Ridgeline I've tested in the past). The huge screen looks nice and is easy to use, there are also a multitude of sharp and helpful cameras that can show behind, above, and in front, and there were no rattles, even when pummeling a derelict gravel and washboard-textured backroad. The faux leather seats are made from a fine synthetic, even if the seats themselves are still too flat, though not nearly as close to resembling a slab of concrete like the back seats. An unexpected positive concerning the seats? Probably the most powerful and effect ventilated seats I've ever experienced. On a hot day, these are ones you can actually feel.

2024 Toyota Tacoma review

Not devoid of disappointment, though, there are some flimsy bits such as the rotary controller for operating the electronically-controlled part-time 4WD system. It simply feels like a cheap toy and is too loose and fragile in operation; That definitely needs attention. I also didn't use the multi terrain selector because I got a warning proclaiming it to be unavailable for whatever reason. It wasn't necessary in my exploits, so didn't explore further why it would not engage.

Another thing you may notice is the large footprint, further emphasized by the TRD Off-Roads lifted ride height and large 32-inch aggressive tires. On paper, it's barely any larger, maybe an inch longer and taller than past comparable double cab models, but it looks massive in due part to the chiseled and boxy bodywork that increases surface area, not to mention the tall hood. Visually, it looks bigger than ever, yet the back seat is still only really best suited to children.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD interior

What you can't see is the addition of Toyota's 2.4L turbocharged inline-four engine, of which there is an option for a more potent (and costly) hybrid model. Paired with the newly-introduced eight-speed automatic transmission, the powertrain completely transforms the traditional Tacoma driving experience. Now (finally), you have a transmission that doesn't hunt for the correct ratio and is smart enough to know what gear you actually want, while offering quick and undetectable shifts. The engine has a wave of midrange torque that obliterates the old and weak V6 of past models. 0-60 MPH might not reveal the largest of changes, shaving off less than a second, but in the open world, having that access to power so much sooner has made for an intensely faster Tacoma in all practical and non-practical situations. Even as the standard engine option here (with no additional and instant hybrid assist), the throttle response is marvelously connected and largely devoid of turbo lag even. Well done, Toyota. Will it be as reliable as the legendary Toyota engines of the past? I certainly cannot speak for that aspect.

Because there are two less cylinders, you might expect fuel economy to also be more attractive, and you would be right! However, I wished for larger gains in this area, with this model returning 19.5 MPG in my daily routine, or only marginally (about 2 MPG) better than the old model. Honda's Ridgeline still has a big V6, and that recently returned 22 MPG during my same testing routine...Less thirsty, but still thirsty then when it comes to Tacoma gas mileage.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road interior

When pavement does run out, the Tacoma TRD Off-Road shows mountainous prowess. South of El Dorado Hills lies South Shingle Rd, a stretch of twisting asphalt that becomes strictly dirt for several miles, and is best suited to trucks and 4WD vehicles. Crawler enthusiasts have also carved out ruts and obstacles for their own enjoyment and practice, something I took advantage of. Look, it's easy to proclaim that a Corolla could cross this stretch of unfinished road, but you'll be doing at 5 MPH or less for fear of the car rattling and shaking itself to death while it shrieks and scrapes over the imperfect earth. The Tacoma? I was flying down at a fully-confident 30 MPH+ over washboard, buckling straight sections and the cabin and chassis were a bank vault; tight. 30 MPH might appear modest, but the giant cloud of dirt behind me would argue otherwise, and I didn't feel like subjecting a vehicle that isn't mine to the hard and natural speedbump-like divots in the dirt that you can't see until you're right on top of them. Advanced Bilstein dampers did a killer job absorbing and shrugging off the terrain like it wasn't even there, working so well that it begs a question of what the fancy (expensive) spool-valve Multimatic dampers in GM's AT4 and ZR.2 equivalent models are even for. I even went down some of the steep crawler trails, and the enhanced ride height and frontal clearance (note how the front bumper is sharply angled and fitted with a skid plate to aid ascending and descending) paid dividends to keep rolling without any contact or struggle, and these were sections that a new stock 4Runner would struggle with and scrape like crazy. You can also stay in 2WD for most areas and switch off the stability controls and have some RWD sliding fun in the dirt, helped by the prodigious and predictable turbocharged punch. If there's one aspect I didn't warm to, it's that the electric power steering is too light in this terrain and driving, which makes it easy to drive, but you do lose confidence, resistance, and feedback in places where you want all of that.

Yes, it's wonderful off-road, which is fitting of a vehicle with off-road literally in its name. Maybe besides wanting extra ground clearance, or fitting 33" or even 35" tires on it, this is a completely stock vehicle you can comfortably take off-road just about anywhere, which is an amazing achievement for a series production Toyota. But, some of these accomplishments don't translate as well to the road. Lateral grip is low, which should be expected, but it's less than I had hoped, wallowing in corners that are taken with increased fervor. And the steering that was too light in the dirt also lacks security on the road. Though it's more civilized than past models and therefore comfortable and easier to keep straight at speed, the lack of information is a step backward. On tightly wound stretch of backroad, the Tacoma needs lots and lots of steering input to navigate turns, and that character coupled to the light and airy nature of the steering just doesn't sit that well with me. I also hoped the off-road tuned suspension would mean soaking up bumps quite well on the street, but it actually rides unfairly firm, transmitting audible low-frequency thuds into the cabin from even minor shunts. It feels as tight and secure as always, but the barrage of intruding impact noises put me off when I was hoping for a smooth and relaxed demeanor. Reason for my optimism stems from past off-road vehicles I've driven, like a Ford Raptor or RAM TRX, which glide over pavement like a cloud. Toyota's full-size Tundra pickup also can suffer from letting low-frequency intrusions in its cabin. Despite the modernized coil-spring multi-link rear suspension, I had hoped for extra civility.

2024 Toyota Tacoma rear seats

Look at the spec sheet alone, and the Tacoma is a vast improvement over the archaic model it replaces. Lots of these upgrades translate well to the real-world experience, but in some ways, is this perhaps too much of a departure from the Tacomas of yesterday? Some of the charm of the Tacoma has always been in its simplicity and conquering durability and dependability; Its criticisms were also its strengths. There are also more than a few out there who won't trust the new turbocharged engine the same way they would trust the foolproof V6. And with so many advanced electronics onboard, it lacks the purity and old-school mentality. The resultant new Tacoma isn't so much different than other competitors like the Canyon and Colorado, and the price increases might be a real limitation to prospective (repeat) buyers. And then you also can't forget the all-important aesthetic factor, and the looks will not be for everyone. While objectively improved in countless ways and a clear step forward, the Tacoma might subjectively not be the improvement many were wanting.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

As-tested price: $54,784

Pros: Excellent engine and transmission; Proper off-road ability

Cons: Expensive price tag; Light steering; Still thirsty

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road
2024 Toyota Tacoma trd off road review | The Road Beat

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road

2024 Toyota Tacoma review | The Road Beat

2024 Toyota Tacoma Blue Crush

2024 Toyota Tacoma Blue Crush detail

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD review

2024 Toyota Tacoma off road review

2024 Toyota Tacoma softex interior

2024 Toyota Tacoma interior

2024 toyota tacoma trd off road tires

2024 toyota tacoma trd off road interior

2024 toyota tacoma off road

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road review by The Road Beat.

All images by Mitchell Weitzman and


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