Amy Plemons is the Executive Producer of CarPro.com and a weekly contributor with exceptional car reviews.
This week I bring you the popular Toyota Tacoma: a tried-and-true old-school midsize pickup that's, as always, an easy truck to like. It's perfectly proportioned. Easy to maneuver. And throw on my test vehicle's TRD-Pro badge, and it becomes an exceptionally rugged off-roader.
The current Tacoma is in its third generation with an all-new model expected in 2024. Its redesign will follow that of the all-new 2022 Tundra, its larger sibling, as well as the just launched all-new 2023 Sequoia SUV. My test vehicle is the TRD Pro 4×4 Double Cab w/ a 5-foot bed.
The TRD Pro's look is nothing if not bold. Especially in a new look-at-me Solar Octane bright orange hue. And yes, you need to like it if you're thinking about going with the TRD Pro grade because for 2023 it's the Tacoma TRD Pro's exclusive color.
The hue really sets off the blacked-out TRD Pro hood scoop and special graphics.
Up front, the TRD Pro is distinguished by a heritage-inspired front "TOYOTA" grille with a camera. The TRD Pro is also equipped with LED headlights and Rigid Industries LED fog lights.
Other TRD-Pro distinguishing features include an aluminum TRD Pro front skid plate with red letters, black overfenders, and color-keyed outside mirrors.
The TRD Pro Bed Stamp looks great.
The truck's TRD Pro status is also denoted by a growl-inducing TRD Pro Black Cat exhaust. Its taillights also get the black sport bezel treatment.
The TRD Pro model rides on 16-inch TRD Pro black alloys, with a one-inch thicker tread width than the Off-Road trim.
Under the hood, you find a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The system delivers 278-horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. It's also equipped with four-wheel drive. The Tacoma won't sprint, but acceleration matches the TRD Pro 4X4s 4,550 pound curb weight. It delivers confident acceleration and driving on the highway.
For your towing needs up to 6,400 pounds (with a V6 Tow Prep Package), it's also equipped with a towing receiving hitch and Trailer Sway Control.
The TRD Pro's off-road equipment includes Multi-Terrain Select camera, Crawl Control, Hill Start Assist Control and TRD-tuned suspension.
I really felt at home in this Tacoma's interior. I'm a fan of the TRD-Pro's heated, cushiony yet supportive, front seats that offer some side bolstering. The front seats feature black TRD-Pro leather-trimmed heated seats with TRD logos on the headrests. The driver's seat is 10-way power with power lumbar as well.
The cabin sports a mix of soft-touch and plastic materials (more plastic than soft-touch) along with a bit of glossy black. Stitching is well done and round A/C vents give it a sporty look.
A perforated-leather steering wheel on the larger, beefier side, suits the Tacoma's rugged personality.
A slim center console houses a TRD-Pro leather-wrapped gear shift, a hand-held parking brake and four cup holders, two of them on the larger size.
Ok, so, yes, the Tacoma's tech is dated compared to Toyota's new models. There's no getting around that.
But a 4.2-inch driver's display is bright, easy to read and provides the data you need. A digital display sits between two analog dials.
This TRD Pro is outfitted with a JBL 6-speaker Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation system with a bright 8-inch touchscreen. I found voice command worked great.
The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and HD Radio. The backup camera resolution isn't great, something I hope improves with the next generation.
The Tacoma's back seat is really comfortable with cushiony seats even for the middle passenger (but no drop-down center armrest.)
There is also some nice window real estate back there. But note that the 2nd-row seats are stadium-style, so you lose some headroom which would likely be an issue for someone tall.
Two great features in my book: a power-sliding rear window and terrific TRD-Pro badged rubber floor mats.
Oh, why not make it three and add the 60/40 rear-split seat storage compartments. The extra storage space is likely to come in handy for a lot of people hitting the trail.
Other standard TRD Pro cabin features include dual-zone climate, a sunroof and three USB ports.
Ride and Drive
It's no secret I like the size of the midsize Tacoma and its drivability. It's easy to drive, maneuver and get around town in. It delivers a comfortable, truck-like ride and the suspension handles potholes well. You get a great view too thanks to its ride height. On the downside, there are no running boards, so there could be an accessibility issue for some people. The road noise level is ok.
The Tacoma's easy lower lift gate is both lockable and removable. I just wish you could lock it remotely, as the key is difficult to dislodge from the fob. (I finally managed to separate them with no harm to either party.)
The fiber-reinforced Sheet-Molded Composite inner bed with steel outer panels offers a lot of utility.
A deck rail system features eight tie-downs: four adjustable cleats and four fixed. The bed also has a 120V deck mounted outlet. There are storage compartments back there too.
Currently Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) is standard on the Tacoma. It includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams. Adaptive cruise control worked well in my highway testing.
The TRD Pro is additionally equipped with Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a rear Parking assist sonar. All grades feature Rear Seat Occupant Reminder.
What You'll Pay
Options on my test model are few: the premium paint ($425) and door sill protector ($79). So as equipped, this TRD Pro stickers for just north of $51,000. You also have to consider the exceptional resale value the Tacoma enjoys.
Can't or don't want to wait for the redesigned Tacoma? The TRD Pro won't disappoint. It's old-school charm is part of its appeal along with its exceptional mid-size pickup off-road capability.
- What I liked most: Bold looks, comfortable cabin, capability.
- What I would change: Provide a remote lock/unlock tailgate function.
- MSRP: Base price: $49,390. As equipped: $51,229.
- Fuel Economy: 18 city/ 22 highway/20 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 102 miles.
- Weight: 4,550 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 212.3” long/ 75.2” wide/ 71.6” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.1 gallons with fuel tank on the driver's side.
- Official Color: Solar Octane ($425).
- Towing Capacity: 6,400 pounds with V6 Tow Prep Package,
- Payload: 1,115 pounds.
2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Double Cab in a few words: An old-school, proven, rugged off-roader that will never go out of style.
- Warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles basic warranty; 60 months/60,000 miles powertrain.
- Final Assembly Location: Guanajuato, Mexico.
- Manufacturer's Website: Toyota