Checking Out Toyota’s New Trim Levels

By - Toyota Trucks and SUVs at 2018 Texas Auto Show

Toyota brings the 2019 Tacoma and Tundra SX models, 4Runner Limited Nightshade, and all-new RAV4 to Texas.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the state fair in Dallas. Last year’s State Fair of Texas brought in more than 2 million visitors. They were greeted by the appropriately-named Big Tex, the 55-foot-tall cowboy that towers over the fairgrounds. They took rides on the Texas Star Ferris wheel, which reaches 212 feet into the sky. In fact, the State Fair of Texas is so enormous that it has its own auto show.

The Texas Auto Show was established in 1913. This year’s event is home to approximately 400 models from a variety of manufacturers, including Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet, Ram, and Toyota. Many of them are inside giant exhibition halls. Several of the pickups and SUVs are in the “Truck Zone,” a 175,000-square-foot outdoor space packed with new and upcoming vehicles, displays, and interactive events.

During the Texas Auto Show media day, journalists get the chance to see all of the various models before the fair opens to the public. We were there to see Toyota’s new SX Packages for the Tacoma and Tundra, 4Runner Limited Nightshade, and all-new RAV4.

2019 Tacoma SX Toyota Trucks and SUVs at 2018 Texas Auto Show

Nissan offers its Midnight Edition package of black badges, wheels, and trim on several of its sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. Consider the SX Package Toyota’s version of it for the Tacoma. Toyota starts with an SR Access Cab (4X2 or 4X4) then darkens the grille, headlamps and tail lights, badges, fender flares, mirror caps, door handles, and 16-inch wheels. You can pair the SX Package with Super White, Silver Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Barcelona Red Metallic, Quicksand, or – for that “murdered out” look – Midnight Black Metallic paint.

The SX Package should prove to be popular on the Tacoma. For $560, it offers a cool, custom look for the truck’s most affordable trim level. Time will tell if it becomes a big enough hit for Toyota to spread it to other vehicles.

2019 Tundra SX Toyota Trucks and SUVs at 2018 Texas Auto Show

Toyota went a different direction with the $1,630 SX Package for the Tundra SR5 Double Cab with the 5.7-liter V8 (4X2 or 4X4). Like the bundle offered on the Tacoma, it adds black wheels (18 inches in this case), but that’s where the similarities end. Toyota differentiates the Tundra SX from other Tundras by removing its exterior badges. It also color-keys a variety of exterior components, including the grille frame and front and rear bumper end caps, to the body, which is available in Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, and Barcelona Red Metallic.

Toyota calls it the SX Package, but they could’ve just as easily called it the Sport Package because it gives the Tundra a sleek, streamlined, sporty look. It’s not hard to imagine a lot of Tundras with the SX Package rolling out of Toyota’s San Antonio truck plant.

2019 4Runner Nightshade Special Edition Toyota Trucks and SUVs at 2018 Texas Auto Show

Like its Tacoma SX sibling, the 4Runner Limited Nightshade Special Edition (available with or without four-wheel drive) goes dark. The front and rear bumper lips, mirror caps, door handles, window trim, roof rails, and badges are black. The same goes for the grille bar and 20-inch wheels. Even the exhaust tip is blacked out. Available paint colors are Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, and Blizzard Pearl. Inside, the steering wheel, center cluster and console panels, shift knob, and other parts are – you guessed it – black. The price for this endless ebony? $1,740.

Limited is Toyota’s most upscale trim level for the 4Runner and the Nightshade Special Edition gives it a clean, modern, urban vibe. In fact, it instantly makes the 4Runner look more like a luxury vehicle.

2019 RAV4 Adventure Toyota Trucks and SUVs at 2018 Texas Auto Show

Toyota has completely re-engineered and re-designed the RAV4 for 2019. Based on the TNGA K platform, it’s wider, shorter, and lower than its predecessor, but sports a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase than the outgoing model. Power will come from either a gas-only 2.5-liter I4 or a 2.5-liter I4 paired with the Toyota Hybrid System II.

Available trim levels include Limited, XSE HV, and Adventure, the most rugged and capable version of the fifth-generation RAV4. It’s equipped with Multi-terrain Select and Dynamic Torque-Vectoring AWD with Rear Driveline Disconnect to handle winding pavement and rough road surfaces, such as mud and rocks, when it needs to and save gas when it can. Those trail-focused features and the contrasting roof gave the RAV4 Adventure that Toyota had on display at the fair a Jeep Compass-esque vibe. Light surfaces and bright orange accents made tits interior look fresh and youthful.

We’ll have to wait a while until we can drive the new RAV4. The good news is that you can see it and other new Toyota models at the Texas Auto Show from now until October 21.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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