We Put the Tacoma to the Test at ‘Droptops & Dirt’
Double-duty daily driver & all-terrain conqueror offers potent one-two punch.
Strolling across a grassy knoll, I can’t help but stare. This Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is resplendent in its Calgary Blue hue. The normally high-gloss paintwork has flattened, like wallpaper, to a semi-matte finish, still beaming in the bright sunlight. Trucks are meant to get dirty, and this Tacoma already wears its hardened mud-and-dust outer layer like a coat of armor.
Behind my dusty stead for the day are the hills of Malibu. This is all a part of the Motor Press Guild’s “Droptops & Dirt” event. The dirt roads here are etched tightly into the rocky mountainside, offering an all too real reminder that any mistakes will be costly ones. No matter, this is Toyota country. I fire up the 3.5-liter V6 engine and it barks back before eventually settling into a relaxed hum.
With 278 horsepower, and 265 lb-ft of torque on tap from that engine, the Tacoma should have no problems powering its 4,400-pounds of mass through the tough stuff. Putting that power to the ground is a 6-speed automatic transmission, and, of course, four-wheel drive. That 4WD system is electronically-controlled via a rotary dial in the center console. Push that knob in and turn the dial. Couldn’t be easier, or smoother, for that matter. With the windows up I can barely hear the Tacoma kick itself into 4Lo.
This is off-roading in easy mode. The Tacoma TRD Pro may as well have driven itself through the trail.
Uphill climbs with the TRD Pro are easy going. In 4Lo, it’s just a matter of lifting off the brake, riding the torque converter in that 6-speed auto box, and steering as necessary. It’s no full-on gear reduction rock crawler, but at creeping speeds, the Tacoma seems pretty indefatigable.