2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road review: Rough around the edges

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

I are not able to deny it, the Toyota Tacoma is an appealing truck. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Toyota Tacoma is a secret to me. Fans of this truck are legion — it can be been the greatest-promoting midsize pickup for all over a 10 years and a 50 percent — nonetheless just about every time I exam 1 it leaves me scratching my head due to the fact the steak never ever lives up to the sizzle. 


  • Organization, managed experience
  • Smooth 3.five-liter V6
  • Interesting inside

You should not Like

  • Awkward driving situation
  • Unnecessarily heavy steering
  • Inconsistent change high quality

Indeed, I know, the Tacoma’s blue-chip resale worth and unimpeachable standing for extended-haul high quality are cornerstones of its enduring reputation. But there are some elements of this machine that fully spoil the experience for me, like the uncomfortable driving situation and ponderous on-road really feel. 

Choose a seat

If you happen to be on the taller side, you will not be terribly at ease behind this Toyota’s wheel, as both the seat and ceiling are far too very low. Even when fitted with a leather-based-trimmed, 10-way-adjustable chair, it generally feels like you happen to be plopped on the floor. With the backrest angled rearward extra than I would like, my head is still nearly touching the roof. Front and rear, a 2020 Ford Ranger is vastly extra at ease.

Tacoma engineers have been type plenty of to contain a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a little something you’d imagine would enhance points, but no dice. Considering the fact that the wheel only moves all over an inch and a 50 percent in any course, the travel is so confined it renders this function pretty much ineffective.

You should not expect a wellspring of comfort in the Tacoma’s backseat, both. In accordance to the spec sheet, my TRD Off-Road tester, which is fitted with the larger sized crew-cab human body and a five-foot-extended cargo box, has 32.6 inches of rear-seat legroom, which makes it fairly cramped for older people. The Tacoma feels noticeably snugger than a equivalent crew-cab Ranger, significantly extra than the 1.nine-inch difference amongst the two would advise. 

A sturdy, well-designed cabin

The Tacoma may be a lot less coddling than its Ford counterpart, but its inside has some rewards. This Toyota’s cabin is nicer all all over, with a extra rugged design and style, greater products and exceptional secondary controls. My truck’s squared-off dashboard is dressed up with vivid-purple trim and a swath of gentle plastic on the passenger side which is dealt with to an appealing crosshatch sample. The dual-zone climate-manage program, which on this product is provided with a number of other points in the $4,285 TRD High quality Off-Road package, is significantly extra finger-welcoming than the Ranger’s set up. On top of all that, almost everything feels sturdy and constructed for the extended haul.

Storage space is fairly fantastic inside the Tacoma. The door pockets are huge, you can find a smattering of cubbies on the centre console and the rear seat’s divided reduce cushion flips up to expose some concealed bins. This truck’s optional, $169 all-climate floor mats are hugely advised. Made of a durable rubber substance, they must hold the carpeting risk-free from mud and slop for yrs to appear.

My tester’s integrated eight-inch infotainment screen is effortless to arrive at, staying mounted at just about the great peak on the dashboard. A touch-enabled screen of this dimensions is conventional on nearly just about every version of the Tacoma except the entry-amount SR product, which makes do with a seven-incher. Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility and even Android Automobile are conventional across the assortment.

Dealing with audio, telephony and other functions is an infotainment program which is as acquainted as it is unremarkable. This arrangement moves at its personal rate (read through: it can be kinda pokey) and the menu format would not get any awards for intuitiveness or fantastic seems, but it can be at least satisfactory for the position. Pinch-to-zoom on the accessible navigation system’s map, nonetheless, is amazingly responsive. 

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

This Toyota’s inside is handsome and well designed, nevertheless comfort could be improved.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

As for other tech, Toyota Protection Sense-P is conventional on all Tacomas. This contains computerized crisis braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise manage, lane-departure warning and computerized significant beams. Blind-location checking with rear cross-site visitors notify is optional, nevertheless lane-centering is not supplied.

Toyota’s implementation of adaptive cruise manage functions as intended, matching the pace of surrounding site visitors and keeping a risk-free subsequent length. It truly is easy and quite responsive. Per common, the lane-departure-notify program is a very little annoying, reminding you just about every so typically of how bad you are at driving. Fortunately, it can be effortless plenty of to disable.

How ’bout that hardware?

Two engines are accessible in the Tacoma, but TRD Off-Road models only appear with the up-current market offering. Generally easy, this 3.five-liter device feels like any other naturally aspirated V6 accessible today, indicating you can find not a whole whole lot of very low-pace grunt (torque tops out at 265 pound-feet) but it definitely wakes up from all over 3,500 rpm and over and above. Horsepower is a course-aggressive 278.

Passing maneuvers are a breeze in this Tacoma, but I would be hesitant to tow or haul wherever near its restrictions as the engine would most likely get out of breath in a hurry. With forty five extra lb-ft of twist on tap, the Ranger’s boosted 4-cylinder feels significantly extra powerful, specially down very low.

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

This 3.five-liter V6 is easy and fairly muscular. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Talking of employing the Tacoma to do, you know, genuine do the job, my tester can drag up to 6,400 kilos. Its maximum payload rating is 1,a hundred seventy five kilos. Both of those figures are aggressive, nevertheless a lot less than that Ranger I hold bringing up can cope with.

Dependent on the trim, you can get a Tacoma with a 6-pace guide transmission, a little something that must be celebrated. Of system, an computerized gearbox, 1 with the exact same variety of ratios, is also supplied. For greater or worse, this is the transmission my exam truck is fitted with, and it can be a little bit inconsistent. Often it can be flawlessly easy, whilst other situations, particularly when you happen to be deep in the throttle, upshifts can be a little bit hammering. It truly is also hesitant to fall gears, demanding a wholesome prod to summon a downshift.

An additional weak spot is this truck’s throttle response, which is at times useless at initial idea-in. Fortunately, you can find an effortless resolve for this: Just strike the ECT Ability button on the centre stack. This places the truck in a distinctive driving manner and generally makes the accelerator pedal significantly extra linear. It also seems to hold the transmission from staying a gear far too significant most of the time.

In combined use, I averaged 19.five miles per gallon in this Tacoma. That is a fairly unspectacular rating, as I’ve completed a couple mpg greater than that in whole-dimensions vans in advance of, types that are significantly extra spacious, at ease and potent than this Toyota. At least that genuine-entire world determine is in line with the EPA’s figures. In accordance to the governing administration company, this machine must return eighteen mpg metropolis, 22 mpg highway and twenty mpg blended. 

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

That TRD-branded entrance skid plate is a $499 selection, 1 which is possibly truly worth just about every penny for the safety it presents.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

As its name indicates, the Tacoma TRD Off-Road arrives with loads of devices built to make it a gifted very little mountain goat. Obviously, this contains a element-time 4-wheel-generate program, nevertheless you can also get the Off-Road product with rear-wheel generate, which makes no sense. Even though not quite as able as the Tacoma TRD Professional, this variant still attributes particular suspension tuning with Bilstein shocks. It also arrives with a locking rear differential for additional grip in difficult disorders hill-commence assist, which keeps the truck from rolling backwards on inclines and a little something termed Crawl Management. Consider of this final product as off-road cruise manage. With five distinctive driver-selectable speeds, it keeps the truck shifting at a gradual, continuous rate so you can concentration on steering all over obstacles, not operating the pedals.

All that off-road hardware provides the Tacoma a firm on-road experience, but it can be not unbearable. The human body constantly maintains its composure, in contrast to a Ranger FX4, which nearly floats all over like a buoy in nor’easter. This Toyota’s brake-pedal really feel is also exceptional, wonderful and firm devoid of staying grabby. In comparison, the Ford’s is soggier than a wet loaf of bread. 

The Tacoma’s managing is safe but also weirdly laborious. It will take genuine arm energy to flip the steering wheel at parking-whole lot pace, like clench the rim with both hands and grunt. In modern entire world of electricity-assisted almost everything this part of the truck feels thoroughly out of put.

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

I can respect the Toyota Tacoma even nevertheless I really don’t necessarily like it.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

It ain’t cheap

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma is supplied in 6 trim levels, from the base SR product up to the top-shelf TRD Professional. In the center of this assortment is the TRD Off-Road variant. This truck commences all over 35 grand, like $1,a hundred and twenty in supply costs, but — and I hope you happen to be sitting down down — my tester checks out for a whole lot extra than that, specially $47,364. Yep, nearly 50-huge for a midsize pickup which is mediocre at greatest. For this sort of an outlay, I can imagine of at least a dozen other motor vehicles I would much fairly have than this Toyota, from a Bullitt Mustang to a Jeep Gladiator to an Audi A5.

Right after spending time in this pickup truck, I still really don’t have an understanding of why it can be so preferred. The Tacoma is ponderous and not comfortable, in addition its gas economic climate and functionality are thoroughly unremarkable. Unless you happen to be a diehard Toyota fan, for the amount they cost, you happen to be greater off having a little something else.