The Tacoma’s TRD Pro program went dark for a year as Toyota prepared to the launch the all-new truck for 2016, but chief engineer for Tacoma and Tundra Mike Sweers never stopped thinking of how to thoughtfully build up the Pro model. We caught up with Sweers at the 2016 Chicago auto show and learned a bit more about this off-road machine.
1. High-speed desert driving. That’s what the Tacoma TRD Pro is all about. Forty-five percent of Tacoma owners take their trucks off-road, and a large majority will be fine crawling up rock faces or mudding in a base Tacoma with the off-road package. The guys who want to go flat out on the sand, though? That’s who Toyota truly developed the TRD Pro for and why the TRD Pro’s Fox Racing dampers are 55 percent larger than stock and have piggyback reservoirs on the rear.
2. The stock Tacoma fog lights wouldn’t work on the TRD Pro. Because Toyota raised the truck an inch, the lights were no longer within regulation. So Sweers approached Rigid Industries, and they created a unique auxiliary LED lighting system for the Tacoma TRD Pro.
3. There’s leather for function as well as fashion. Sweers asked Tacoma owners if they would want leather in a top-trim truck. They were ho-hum until Sweers reminded them that it is much easier to wipe mud off leather than fabric. That piqued their interest.
4. Exhaust development isn’t done. Sweers and his team went through 12 exhaust system variations for the base Tacoma before settling on something they thought fit the truck’s character. They haven’t yet hit 12 iterations for the TRD Pro’s performance-focused exhaust, but they’re getting there. Sweers doesn’t want any booming when TRD Pro owners are going down the highway.
5. There’s a new, oil change-friendly front skid plate. Sweers says current TRD Pro owners complained about having to remove the quarter-inch plate to change the oil. Now they don’t have to.
6. Performance accessories will be available in due course. Toyota hasn’t touched the engine or transmission, but they’ll give you the option to. One accessory owners have asked for is a factory-built snorkel, but Sweers wouldn’t comment on whether or not Toyota is developing one.