TRD's New Lift Kit Keeps Toyota Tacoma's Active Safety Tech ... Active
A little bit of cool mixed with some responsible, boring safety stuff.
Know what the first thing most people don't think about when faced with news of a sweet suspension lift kit for a popular pickup truck? It's whether or not that lift kit plays nicely with the onboard safety gear. Well, fans of the Toyota Tacoma (who are legion, given its comfy 16-year reign atop the midsize pickup sales charts), the TRD lift kit designed for the 2020-present Tacoma nails those two objectives.
The TRD (Toyota Racing Development) lift kit jacks the pickup's body skyward and maintains full, accurate functionality of the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) active safety equipment included as standard on every Tacoma from the 2020 model year onward.
To those curious how a lift kit might impact features such as radar-based adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and camera-based lane-departure warning, think of some simple geometry: The relevant sensors are registering objects and their distance from the vehicle. Raise the vehicle, and suddenly the camera for detecting lane markers is "reading" road markings from a different distance, potentially throwing off its calculations for recognizing whether or not the vehicle is or has left its lane. For radar cruise, the angle of attack of the truck's front end plays a role—lift the front end more or less than the rear, and you're in effect "aiming" the radar sensor higher or lower, again messing with the algorithms that manage the truck's forward-collision warning system and its adaptive cruise control's ability to recognize the distance to the vehicle ahead.
With that in mind, Toyota provides customers of the TRD lift kit with a new retro-style grille with "TOYOTA" lettering like that offered on the hardcore, range-topping Tacoma TRD Pro model. Next to looking rad as hell, the new piece includes a new TSS millimeter-wave sensor and a new camera-support bracket optimized for the lifted pickup's new height.
The Tacoma TRD Lift Kit: What's Included
Both hardware changes are necessary because the real meat of the TRD lift kit raises the front end by 2.0 inches and the rear by 1.0 inch. Designed only for six-cylinder Tacomas with four-wheel-drive (the kit is not compatible with four-cylinder models, crew-cab models with the long bed option, any two-wheel-drive Tacoma, or the TRD Pro), the setup also includes new Bilstein shocks.
In back, the shocks have a larger diameter body than stock (2.0 inches vs. 1.5 inches) that hold more oil for better heat dissipation over rough terrain, plus the piston rod is 4 mm larger; they're joined by cast-iron spacers for accomplishing the 1.0-inch lift in back. Up front, the new Bilsteins feature an extended rebound stroke to match the new height afforded by the modified spring perch, which accomplishes the 2.0-inch nose lift.
In all, the suspension modifications result in 1.7 inches of additional ground clearance (measured to the frame), a 3.2-degree improvement in the approach angle (to 32 degrees), a 1.6-degree increase in breakover angle (to 23 degrees), and a half-degree bump in the departure angle (to 24 degrees). These figures draw close to those of the Tacoma TRD Pro, which rides on special Fox shocks, not the Bilsteins included in this kit. It also probably explains the inclusion of the TRD Pro-style grille. After all, the TRD Pro also has TSS equipment onboard.
For all of this gear (and the bragging rights for getting the only Tacoma lift kit guaranteed to maintain TSS functionality), Toyota charges $1,350. The TRD Lift Kit will only be offered as a dealer-installed option, so you'll probably be on the hook for installation, but it is backed by TRD's standard three-year or 36,000-mile warranty if installed when the vehicle is purchased new or a one year, 12,000-mile warranty if installed later. Seems like a good deal to us, particularly if you'd like your Tacoma to sit a little higher on factory bits but also like using its adaptive cruise control.