After weeks of teasing us on social media, Toyota unveiled their new TRD Pro Models of the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra at the Chicago auto show. While I was not-so-secretly hoping to see these models roll out with upgrades that put them on the Ford-Raptor playing field, that’s not what Toyota had in mind.
The 2015 TRD Pro Lineup (Photo Credit: Toyota)
Instead, the 3 TRD Pro models feature the following:
Performance Enhancers (no, not those kind…):
- Mild 1.5-2” front lifts using Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs in rear as well as softer TRD springs, the combination of which provide modest ~1” increase in suspension travel
- Real (can take a beating) aluminum front skids
- New exhaust on the Tundra (not sure if it enhances anything but sound?)
TRD Pro Models feature Bilstein Shocks and TRD Springs (Photo Credit: Toyota)
Fru-Fru Stuff I’m not embarassed to say I like:
- New grills (Satoshi in the Toyota circles – guys have been making their own homegrown versions for years!)
- Black wheels (model specific on the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra)
- TRD shift knobs and floor mats
- New exterior TRD Pro badging and black accents
TRD Pro Exterior Badging (Photo Credit: Toyota)
So what do I think? What was Toyota thinking?
Here’s my take: The less-sexy (non-TRD Pro) 4Runner Trail Edition, Tacoma TRD Off-Road, and Tundra are already really capable offroaders right out of the box, except for maybe the crappy tires Toyota puts on them. I know this from my own experience offroading my 4Runner Trail when it was stock and also running trails in my brother’s Tacoma back before he began modding. Do they get the image cred that the Raptor or Wrangler Rubicon get? Not even close.
TRD Pro 4Runner and Tacoma (Photo Credit: Toyota)
To me the TRD Pro models represent Toyota playing the middle ground – the Raptor and Wrangler Rubicon have really material drivetrain, structural, and suspension upgrades versus their “normal-grade” base models. The TRD Pro models from a cynical point of view are an appearance package and a couple of basic bolt-ons.
Theoretically, you could buy a non TRD-Pro model of the 4Runner, Tacoma, or Tundra, and instead of forking out an estimated $4,500 extra for the TRD Pro package, you could buy your own aftermarket suspension, skids, and wheels/tires — there are tons of options out there — many much more exotic than what you get with TRD Pro.
2015 Toyota Tundra – No Raptor Killer, but it has its place… (Photo Credit: Toyota)
There are a small percentage of new truck buyers (like me) that do just that — at this point my 4Runner is loaded with a mish-mash of aftermarket parts built solely around my unique needs and desires for the truck. The flip side of modification is that when you start introducing aftermarket parts you have to hope your research and planning panned out and that they all work together well and don’t compromise other parts of your vehicle. And, of course, you might also have to deal with the dealer potentially giving you grief about the “mish-mash” of mods and not honoring your vehicle warranty. I personally have had some expensive trials and tribulations with the aftermarket and you have to grin and bear it when you start deviating from the factory.
The nice thing about the TRD Pro is that buyers will get some meaningful upgrades without ever having to worry about their warranty or about parts working well together. I’d venture that most people with a true interest in doing light-to-moderate offroading, or at least looking the part, would rather not fool with the aftermarket if they don’t have to. For those folks, the TRD Pro models make a ton of sense.
2015 TRD Pro Tacoma (Photo Credit: Toyota)
“Really though, aren’t you disappointed that the TRD Pro is not a bona-fide Raptor fighter?” You know what, maybe a little? But in reality I’m excited: excited that Toyota is acknowledging their 4×4/offroad heritage and the enthusiasts that have been begging for some real attention from the manufacturer. After meeting the TRD guys at the past 2 FJ Summits, seeing new TRD parts we couldn’t buy, and hearing that “things are in the making”, it sure is great to see these models come to life. I’m hoping it is the start of a renewed commitment to engage with the offroad enthusiast community and quells my fears that the days of true Toyota trucks are numbered.