Bumpers have come a long way from when they were first designed. Originally, they were metal bars designed to be utilitarian. They then evolved to be more stylish but built the same way. Eventually, they became much larger and chrome. Automotive design took a major turn and “bumpers” turned into “bumper covers.” Large molded and painted plastic covers hid the small metal plate behind that was now designed to crunch and absorb impact.
Let’s face it. Our Toyota Tacomas are trucks, and trucks need more. Thankfully there is a massive aftermarket for our Tacos. There are countless style options, but also plenty of utilitarian and offroad bumpers in mind for both the front and rear of our Tacomas. What works best for you?
Let’s first cover the different types of bumpers you can come across on a Tacoma. Keep in mind that there are usually more front bumper options compared to rear, so unless otherwise specified, most of these examples will be of front bumpers and bumper covers.
A stock “bumper” these days is actually considered a bumper cover. These are the plastic pieces that offer no real protection. They are designed to crumple and be thrown away in the event of an accident. They are also made up of plenty of little parts: grills, accents, lights, brackets, and more. For example, a stock front bumper and bumper cover for a 2019 Tacoma has a total of 30 parts, and the rear has 17.
The rear bumpers have more metal construction to them. While plastic is lighter and cheaper to replace compared to metal, Toyota does recognize that a Tacoma is still a truck, and that rear bumpers need to be stepped on, yanked on, bumped into, and whatever else you can throw at a truck.
Cosmetic/Looks Aftermarket Bumpers (Front and Rear)
These are once again just bumper covers, and they offer no protection or utilitarian gains at all. They just look different. Some people don’t treat trucks like trucks. They may lower them, or just make them flashy.
One of the biggest reasons for these would be color matching and chrome delete on the rear bumpers. Let’s face it... Some people just don’t like chrome. Regardless if you think it’s too hard to clean, too old school looking, or just out of place, you can color match with Bumper Shellz by ecoological that we sell here at Empyre Off road. From $120 to $200, you can ditch the chrome by adding these colored covers right over the factory chrome. If you’re feeling extra, you can get them in different colors, including multiple types of black, or you can get them “paintable” so you can do it yourself.
Low Profile Bumpers (Front)
Now we start getting into what our trucks were made for. Low profile bumpers generally attach to your frame, and wrap over the front of your bumper cover, or replace the bottom half of your bumper cover (if applicable). They are usually a few steel tubes or sheet metal welded together that are generally painted black. They are designed to be light and visually subdued, but still offer extra protection and mounting options over stock bumper covers. Some models can come with or offer mounting options for light bars, winches, and tow hooks. Typically, these are around $550 to $2000 depending on the make, model, and options.
Off Road Bumper (Front and Rear)
When you want to treat your truck like a truck, the stock bumper covers will not last. It is unfair to dedicate just a couple paragraphs to these bumpers because there are so many different types and options, but I’ll try to sum it up.. Generally, these replace the lower half of your bumper cover and can offer some type of protection to the upper half. The lower and upper protection can vary greatly.
While some just give you the addition of a metal bumper in front of the plastic cover, some offer skid plates that help protect the expensive stuff under the truck: suspension, front-engine components and accessories, and wiring. Some also offer protection above in forms of metal grills or bars around your headlights, metal grills or bars in front of the stock grill, or both.
They allow or come with plenty of desired offroad goodies such as winches, fog lights, light bars, tow hooks, and more.
Rear bumpers are a bit more simplistic, but work the same way: plastic out, metal in. Generally, these replace the whole rear bumper and bumper cover. Like the front, they bolt to the frame to offer actual protection. They are usually visually more basic compared to stock bumper covers: one color, all metal, fewer parts, and less flash/chrome. They are robust and designed to take a beating. Generally they are solid sheet metal but sometimes are made out of tube steel for lighter weight.
While they don’t typically offer taillight protection, some more expensive models can offer storage space for fuel jugs, jacks, a spare tire, and other modular storage. Since this can take up substantial room, some offer built-in gates to hold all these extra items. To not disrupt the function of your tailgate, they can swing out of the way when needed.
There may also be optional LED lighting and tow hook attachments built into the bumpers as well.
Push/Bull Bars (Front)
While push bars (also known as “Bull Bars”) are not exactly considered “bumpers,” they mimic the same function of a lot of the other bumper types listed in this blog. These do come in all shapes and sizes depending on your needs, but they all offer more front protection over stock bumper covers. They can be for pushing (as the name suggests), or they are great to have another line of protection before something hits your plastic bumper cover.
Basic models are a simple tube that comes up to right under the grill. They wrap over the bumper cover. More protective (and more expensive models) might replace the lower half of your bumper cover and cover a bit more of the grill. There is a bit of a grey area at some point with what is just a push bar, and what becomes an offroad bumper.
There dozens and dozens of bumper options for Toyota Tacomas. Those are the main categories, but there are a bunch out there that blur the lines and become a bit of both. This will give you a better understanding of what to search for when you are looking for the type of bumper that you want.
Now that you know what type of bumpers you may encounter, let’s take a look at what some Tacoma drivers really like. This list is based off forum results, reviews, and being in the industry.
A good example of a moderately priced low profile front bumper is the Front Lo-Pro Winch Bumper by C4 Fabrications. This bumper has a base price of $670, but with options, you can get the cost up to over $1800. It does ship with no finish (bare steel), but its rugged construction and plenty of options make it a popular choice.
A popular option for full-sized off-road bumpers would be the ARB Summit Bumper. Depending on options, these are around $1500. They give the bottom of your truck full protection, and have lots of areas to attach fog lights, LED light bars, antennas, and more. Above the lower section of the bumper is a bar that surrounds both headlights and above the grill. This will help protect your ride should you slide into a tree while offroading. They do have the option to arrive powder coated.
If you need lights, winches, and good looks, all with a fully bold-on made in America flair, ADD Offroad has you covered. The ADD Offroad Stealth Fighter front bumper, which we sell here at Empyre Off-Road has everything you need, and you can leave off everything you don’t need. There are two winch options, seven center light options, and five side light options. Of course if you already have the LED lighting you want, you can put that in as well. The central universal mount is for a 30 inch light bar, or 6 cube lights. The bumper starts at $2000, but your options will change that!
After you dress up the front of your Tacoma with ADD Offroad, don’t forget about the rear. They can take care of that too with the ADD Offroad Stealth Fighter rear bumper. Starting at just over $1600, you will have your option of four different LED lights that will flank you license plate. Aside from being also begin fully bolt on and made in America like the front bumper, there are also integrated reinforced clevis mounts accept a 3/4" d-rings which will cover your extra utilitarian needs. There are cutouts for your backup sensors as well!
If you can't make up your mind about what kind of bumper you want, Southern Style Offroad can put your mind at ease with many different bumper options. From $770 to $1500, they have the spectrum covered and allow so many custom options. Just as an example, the Southern Style Offroad Slimline Tube Bumper has two different models, optional bull bar, seven different LED lighting bat cutout options, and a bare metal ot black powder coated finish. These are made to order, so you are getting something made just for you, and not something pulled off a shelf! They also offer a rear bumper option as well to be your one stop shop!
Push/bull bars are pretty inexpensive, and a good option is the Rough Country Bull Bar. At $280, they are far cheaper compared to a complete bumper, and they offer great basic protection for getting people out of your way on the highway. This brand comes painted, and with an LED light bar already installed. While more powerful light bar options are suggested for serious use, it’s hard to beat for the price.
A good, basic hybrid would be the Barricade Off Road Brush Guard. The bottom of it is all push/bull bar, but the top is all full-sized off-road. Due to the nature of the mounting, it will not offer the same serious protection as full-sized off-road bumpers, but it will get the job done if you’re driving through some overgrown paths, or if you just want something that has “the look,” but doesn’t have the high price, you can get these for about $540, powder coated, and ready to go.
A bumper, like anything on your truck, depends on the look you want, your intended use, and how much you want to spend. Our Toyota Tacomas are very popular trucks, and that leads to many options. As with your other Tacoma mods and accessories, find what works best for you, and get it on your truck!
Front and Rear Bumper Diagrams: Toyota Parts Center
Low Profile Bumper - C4 Fab: C4 Fab
Offroad Front Bumper - C4 Fab: RIGd Supply
Offroad Rear Bumper - DV8 Offroad: DV8 Offroad
Push Bar - Rough Country: Rough Country
Front and Rear ADD Bumpers - Courtesy of ADD Offroad & Empyre Off Road
Front SSO Bumper - Courtesy of SSO
BumperShellz - Courtesy of ecoological & Empyre Off Road