Toyota takes on the desert

Toyota has a long history with desert racing. In fact, Toyota started back in 1979 as a marketing tool to help advertise the trucks’ durability to a country completely dominated by domestic branded trucks. Fast-forward to today, and Toyota is still using desert racing as a way to attract attention to its brand and trucks. More specifically, this truck is build to herald the attributes of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro.

This truck started life as a factory Tacoma TRD Pro, but got tons of upgrades in preparation for its entry into “The Great American Off-Road Race,” the Mint 400. Held March 1-5, 2017 in Las Vegas, the Mint 400 is one of the longest and most grueling off-road races in the U.S.

The truck is modified to help it better handle the rigors of long-distance off-road racing, but the majority of its parts are factory. “The Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck is the most badass Tacoma we’ve developed,” says John Myers, National Trucks Vehicle Marketing and Communications Manager at Toyota Motor Sales. “The Mint 400 represents the most robust example of desert racing. It’s an excellent proving ground for this special build.”

So, does the Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck have what it takes to last 400 miles in the roughest and fastest terrain this side of the Mexican border? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck.

Exterior

The truck’s most obvious change is its matt black wrap job filled with sponsorship logos. The bodywork all remains factory, even down to the TRD Pro fender flares. Not stock are the aggressive General Grabber X3 Mud-Terrain tires and XD beadlock wheels finished in an anodized red aluminum color.

The truck’s most obvious change is its matt black wrap job filled with sponsorship logos.

Up front, Toyota added a skid plate bumper that doubles as a light bar for the four amber off-road lights. Down low, the TRD Pro’s skid plate is clearly visible. The truck also features an antenna on the roof for long-range, two-way communications – essential during a race.

Out back, the cargo bed is full of tools and equipment. A spare tire takes up the majority of the space. Its carrier is tied into the bed walls to help support the truck, along with the safety cage the runs throughout the cabin. A radiator and electric fan help keep components cool. There’s also a fire extinguisher, sand tracks, and a race jack for emergencies. There’s even an extra drive shaft should the worst happen. Hidden below the sand tracks are the massive Fox shock absorbers Toyota added to help take the desert’s abuse. The bypass shocks are three inches in diameter and feature piggyback reservoirs with extra shock fluid.

Interior

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck High Resolution Interior
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Toyota kept the factory dashboard, but swapped in a racing steering wheel, safety roll cage, racing seats with five point harnesses, and window netting in order to meet safety regulations.

Inside the truck, Toyota kept the factory dashboard, but swapped in a racing steering wheel, safety roll cage, racing seats with five point harnesses, and window netting in order to meet safety regulations. Even the standard Entune infotainment system is present, as well as the driver’s gauge cluster. A panel of auxiliary switches to the left of the steering wheel gives the driver command of aftermarket on-board systems like the front off-road lights.

Drivetrain

The Tacoma TRD Pro’s standard 3.5-liter V-6 remains unchanged, along with the six-speed automatic transmission, and two-speed transfer case for the 4WD system. Also carrying over is the Tacoma’s Mult-Terrain Select and Crawl Control system. While the engine and drivetrain remain stock, the suspension has received a ton of changes.

The Tacoma TRD Pro’s standard 3.5-liter V-6 remains unchanged.

The front suspension has been strengthened and 2.5-inch Fox coilover shocks were added. That’s in addition to the 3.0-inch Fox shocks mentioned before. The leaf springs received a heavy dose of aftermarket parts, including reinforced hangers that look as if they came from a welding textbook. There’s also a thick safety cage and skid plate were added to protect the aftermarket fuel cell, which resides where the spare tire normally would.

Conclusion

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
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Toyota has gone all-out to make this Tacoma TRD Pro race-ready. The impressive number of modifications should help see this truck through to the finish line. The only possible chink in its arsenal of weaponry is its underwhelming 3.5-liter V-6. Many complain the engine is just too underpowered for the Tacoma – even in stock form. Hopefully it won’t be a problem for the Toyota team.

It’s also interesting to point out the number of modifications Toyota added in relation to the relatively few changes Ford made with its 2017 Raptor race truck built for the Baja 1000. Compared to the Tacoma, the Raptor has changed very little from its production form. For example, the only suspension change was a slight recalibration of the Fox shocks to account for the added weight of the safety gear. Toyota cut holes in the Tacoma’s cargo bed in order to fit upgraded rear shocks. A bit telling, don’t you think?

Regardless, the Tacoma TRD Pro race truck looks ready for the SEMA show and Mint 400.

  • Leave it
    • Lots of changes to suspension
    • Hardly available at your local dealership

Press Release

In 1979, Toyota decided that off-road racing was a good way to demonstrate the durability of its trucks. Today, the newest addition to Toyota’s TRD collection, the Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck debuts as a key showpiece at TOYOTA’s booth at the 2016 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.

Camburg Racing’s Jason Campbell took the lead in building the intrepid Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck. “This truck was built to redefine capability,” Campbell explained. “The Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck let’s you go places most other trucks would ordinarily see only on a map.”

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
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Tacoma is the best-selling midsize pickup for the past 10 years. The Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck’s rugged stock 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle Engine boasts a 4WD drivetrain with Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. A beefed up suspension with FOX 2.5” coilovers with remote DSC adjuster along with front and rear Fox 3.0” Bypass Shocks with rear piggyback reservoirs make this more than an average contender.

There is no better way to showcase the rugged durability of the Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck than by entering the “The Great American Off-Road Race”—the 2017 MINT 400.

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
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The Mint 400 is the largest and most prestigious off-road race in America and is to be held March 1-5, 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. “The Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck is the most badass Tacoma we’ve developed,” says John Myers, National Trucks Vehicle Marketing and Communications Manager at Toyota Motor Sales. “The Mint 400 represents the most robust example of desert racing. It’s an excellent proving ground for this special build.”

Name drivers are lined up to drive the Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck to victory. When asked who the drivers are, Myers responded, “We’re not ready to announce yet, but let’s just say people will recognize them. Stay tuned.”

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck High Resolution Interior
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Tacoma has also won Edmund’s best resale value award: Tacoma has the highest resale value of any vehicle on the road today.

The Tacoma TRD Pro Race Truck—along with numerous other Toyota specialty vehicles—can be found in the Toyota display booth (#24800) in Central Hall and on the Patio Annex of the Las Vegas Convention Center, November 1-4, 2016.

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