Most of the blog here at Empyre Off-Road has been dedicated to educating people on aftermarket parts Tacoma parts and options, however, there hasn't been much talk about factory options. What comes stock from Toyota? What is included in each trim? Let's take some time to dive into that. When it comes to Tacoma's there are three trim levels you can get, they are the TRD Pro, the TRD Sport, and the TRD Off-Road. What’s the difference? Which one should you get? Let’s find out a little more about them so you can decide which version of the durable and reliable Toyota Tacoma you want.
In the event you were wondering: TRD stands for “Toyota Racing Development.” This is Toyota’s in-house tuning shop for all Toyota, Lexus, and formerly Scion cars. TRD is responsible both for improving street cars for more performance and supporting Toyota's racing interests around the world.
Some Tacomas will never see dirt. Let’s face it: yes, these are durable and capable trucks, but they also look good. Some people buy them just because they want to. If you’re looking for a little extra bling for your highway commutes, the TRD Sport is probably your best option.
Ironically, there is not much sport to the TRD Sport. It is mostly cosmetic; an appearance package over the base (SR) model. The Sport offers body-colored bumpers and fender flares, a non-functional hood scoop, 17-inch wheels with street tires, a "sport-tuned" suspension, and a front air dam attached at the base of the front bumper.
The sport-tuned suspension means that it is stiffer. There is less body-roll and less flex, which makes it ideal for driving on pavement. You want your truck’s suspension to flex when you’re driving over rocks, but you don’t want that if you have to quickly change lanes on a highway.
The 2020 Tacoma TRD Sport starts at $32,745. For comparison, the SR (base) starts at $26,050.
The Off-Road package for the Toyota Tacoma is a great starting place for those weekend warriors who like to do some off-roading, hill climbing, and tackle other similar terrains. Some of the goodies you get include Bilstein shock absorbers, locking rear differential, Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select, 16-in wheels, Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Kevlar-lined off-road tires, and black plastic fender flares.
These are some pricey modifications that many would do to their truck for off-roading, and you can get them from the factory here. The shocks help absorb the bumps and rattles of the rough terrain while the locking differential keeps power going through both wheels for extra traction. Speaking of extra traction, the Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select are great features to help get the most help from your truck while off-roading, and they are not really something you can get aftermarket. The tires and fenders are more durable over the stock equivalents, and the smaller wheels assist in off-road capabilities compared to the larger 17-inch ones on the Pro.
The 2020 Tacoma TRD Off-Road starts at $34,000. That’s not much more compared to the Sport. Of course, prices will vary (for each) model based on options.
While this is the most expensive model starting at $43,960, this what you get if you want a serious off-road machine from the factory. And yes, that means you get a factory warranty on the beast! If you’re beyond the weekend warrior status when it comes to off-roading, or perhaps you just want the best money can buy for a factory Tacoma, the Pro comes with everything the Off-Road does plus tons of extras.
Fox off-road suspension with front coilovers and remote reservoir rear shock absorbers, 1-inch suspension lift, TRD ¼ inch aluminum front skid plate, 16 inch Black TRD wheels offering a 1 inch wider track, and a larger anti-sway bar are all some of the extra performance goodies you get. Let’s not forget about the TRD cat-back exhaust as well.
In addition to the performance upgrades, this model doesn’t skimp on cosmetic upgrades as well. The Off-Road package gives you a unique hood with a (non-functioning) hood scoop and "eye-black" decal, TRD Pro-specific grille, black headlight, and taillight bezels, TRD Pro badging, TRD shift knob, TRD Pro floor mats, and TRD Pro black leather seats with "TRD Pro" embroidering. There is no sunroof option for the Pro.
There is a downside though: you are limited to a double cab with a five-foot bed. You also have one engine choice, but you do get to choose between a manual and an automatic transmission. As mentioned at the start of this section, it is also very pricey. When you think of Toyota, you think of more inexpensive, yet reliable vehicles. This does stray from the “inexpensive” side and seems to be priced closer to some well specced out full-sized trucks. You do get a lot of truck for the money, so there is a reason.
TRD makes great options for our trucks. Off-roading is something a lot of people will want to upgrade their trucks to do. There is a fantastic aftermarket for that. However, if something breaks, you have to contact that manufacturer and hope they take care of it in a way that works for you. If everything comes from the factory, you’re covered! Another good reason to get an upgraded truck from the factory is that there are some electronics you can’t get installed aftermarket.
Know your needs, and buy accordingly. Have fun, and stay safe!
All images come directly from Toyota. They are all of the 2020 Tacoma TRD variants. Please note that the Pro model is a prototype. Images can be found here.