2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Shows Gold Mine Hill Who’s Boss

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Even without a locking differential, the Tundra TRD Pro is able to climb its way to victory.

The last time the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro took on TFL Truck‘s Gold Mine Hill challenge, a three-stage off-road challenge, deep snow kept it from getting through.

That was a few years ago. Now the Tundra TRD Pro has updated looks and some new hardware. According to TFL Truck co-host Andre Smirnov, “I think the biggest deal for 2019 on the TRD Pro Tundra have to be the shocks. These are 2.5-inch diameter Fox shocks and … Toyota Racing Development and Fox worked together on these shocks and I’m really curious about how they’re going to perform here on an icy stretch of road.”

yotatech.com 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Gold Mine Hill

Smirnov trundles along a long, uneven path and discovers just smoothly the Tundra rides. The new shocks do an excellent job of soaking up bumps in the terrain.

Then co-host Nathlan Adlen jumps into the passenger seat. Smirnov puts the Tundra into 4L and points the pair of fake hood scoops over the carryover 5.7-liter V8 toward Stage 1 and gets moving. The 2019 Tundra TRD Pro still doesn’t have a locking rear differential, but there’s also much less snow on the trail than the last time the Tundra attempted to get through the Gold Mine Challenge. Smirnov and Adlen come out on the other end.

Despite its hardware limitations, the Tundra TRD Pro has some useful exterior design elements. Smirnov says, “Here’s the thing with the Tundra: It has a really good approach angle. … Not a big overhang. However, this is a gigantic truck. Long wheelbase. Breakover angle? Not so great.” Exhausts positioned close to the rear tires help add to the departure angle.

yotatech.com 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Gold Mine Hill

The guys put the Tundra’s design and Michelin LTX A/Ts to the test in Stage 2, a tight uphill turn covered in dirt and light snow. The Tundra powers through. Smirnov says, “A bit of slippage, but it kind of modulated my throttle and did it.”

Things don’t go quite as smoothly at Stage 3. The Tundra grunts and bumps its way up the hill. Smirnov and Adlen use up all of the truck’s breakover angle – and then some. As they make their way to the top, they hear a sound. Smirnov investigates and determines that one of the skid plates bore the brunt of the impact.

yotatech.com 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Gold Mine Hill

The Tundra may not take the most graceful path through the Gold Mine Hill challenge, but it does complete it and make up for its predecessor’s performance. Not bad for a pickup with a dated engine and transmission that Adlen calls “the most ancient truck out there … except for the [Nissan] Frontier.”

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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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