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Auto review: When the road ends, new Tacoma TRD gets busy

Barry Spyker, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

The suspension, tuned for trails, softens bumps and dips well enough around town, too. It is well controlled on corners for a body-on-frame truck weighing around 4,500 pounds, but steering is dull and mushy; The truck tends to wander on the highway.

Tacoma's cabin has the same rugged attitude. It's ready for truck stuff, with lots of washable rubber and plastics, but don't look for anything special or lavish. Kudos to Toyota for finally adding a power-adjustable driver seat.

Leather-trimmed seats are comfortable, supportive and heated. But the cabin is as cramped as an airplane cockpit -- that includes the bigger double cab that seats five. Head room is minimal even up front, and both head and leg room are relatively tight in the rear.

Infotainment appears on an 8-inch touchscreen which is user-friendly and has short-cut controls on the center stack so the driver doesn't have to mess with digital icons while driving. New this year is compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa, and it includes a JBL audio system with six speakers.

While it may be missing some high-tech elements inside, the Tacoma does come with a Toyota's Safety Sense package of features, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, pedestrian detection, roll mitigation and lane-departure warning. It also has a post-collision SOS alert.

With it all, it's safe to say what draws many to the Tacoma -- the best-selling midsize truck in the U.S. -- is it's beefy look and many variations. Its grille is bolder this year and flanked by blocky headlights and LED running lights. The TRD Pro gets a hood scoop, too.

Buyers can mix and match the cabs and cargo beds. The two-door Access cab or Double Cab each can accommodate five- or six-foot beds. Tacoma has eight trim levels and offers 10 exterior colors, from Voodoo Blue and Barcelona Red to five shades of gray.

Whatever the options, the Tacoma TRD Off Road is ready for the rugged. Even if you don't have river canyon hills to climb.

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road 4x4


With double cab, long bed

MSRP: $37,890

As tested: $44,550 (Includes TRD Off Road package, $3,815; Advanced Technology package w/multi-terrain monitor, $1,670)

What's all the excitement about? Best-selling midsize truck in U.S. is beefier, ready for trails with new technology

Powertrain: 3.5-liter V-6 engine makes 278 horsepower, 265 pound-feet of torque; mated to 6-speed automatic transmission

How's the performance? Built for trails with 9.4-inch ground clearance, locking rear differential, hill descent and crawl modes; 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds

Fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 22 highway, for 20 combined

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