More spicy sauce for the Taco Supreme

Toyota’s 2019 updates to its trio of TRD Pro models brings some impressive upgrades to the Tacoma. Headlining the features is the new Desert Air Intake, a high-rise snorkel that not only looks awesome but sucks in cleaner air from higher above trail. The suspension is also updated Fox Racing Shocks and a handful of cosmetic changes keep the truck fresh.

The Tacoma TRD Pro has been around since 2015 and jumped to the third-generation Tacoma for 2017 after skipping the 2016 model year. Now for 2019, the truck’s updates work to better align the Tacoma TRD Pro with the new and highly impressive Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and the upcoming Ford Ranger Raptor. While the Tacoma enjoys a fat sales margin over the Colorado, its lead has been dwindling. Once Ford’s new Ranger his the streets for 2019, Toyota will have a real fight on its hands. Read on to see how the 2019 updates prepare the Tacoma for a tough battle.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

Exterior

  • New TRD Desert Air Intake option
  • New red accent color in TRD logo on front skid plate
  • 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires
  • TRD Pro-specific TOYOTA grille
2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
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The 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro’s coolest feature is its new TRD Desert Air Intake.

Getting right to the good stuff, the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro’s coolest feature is its new TRD Desert Air Intake. Most folks will just call it a snorkel, but we’re betting Toyota’s legal team put a stop on that terminology from being used in an official capacity. While a snorkel technically allows a vehicle to break while fording deep water, this air intake system is designed to grab clean air from higher off the trail and outside the engine bay where dust and dirt are typically flying around. The point is to keep the air filter cleaner for longer, and therefore preserving the engine’s breathing. A clean air filter also helps prevent small dust particles from making it into the engine where it would add prematurely wear.

Aside from the air intake, the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro gets a new from skid plate with red paint filling the stamped TRD logo. The TRD cat-back exhaust, a standard feature on the TRD Pro, now comes with a Black Chrome tip.

Beyond those changes, the 2019 model looks just like a 2017 and 2018 truck. It rides on 16-inch alloy wheels, boasts the TOYOTA block lettering on the grille, and comes with those nifty LED fog lights from Rigid Industries.

Interior

  • Black interior with red accents
  • TRD-branded floor mats and gear shifter
  • TRD logo on front seatbacks
  • Entune infotainment system with JBL Audio
2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
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The Entune system with navigation returns, as does the premium JBL Audio system

Since the Tacoma TRD Pro is the newest of Toyota’s off-roading trio, its interior didn’t really need any updates. (Not that we would have complained about them.) That means the truck still has black seats with red contrast stitching, along with TRD logos on the floor mats, seat backs, and shift knob.

The Entune system with navigation returns, as does the premium JBL Audio system. Sadly, the system is missing modern techie features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Tacoma does have a Qi wireless charging pad, however.

Drivetrain

  • 3.5-liter V-6
  • DOHC with variable valve timing
  • Otto & Atkinson combustion cycles
  • 278 horsepower & 265 pound-feet of torque
  • Six-speed manual is standard
  • Six-speed automatic is optional
  • Electronic locking rear differential
  • Available Multi-Terrain Select & Crawl Control
2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
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The peppy engine is rated at 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque.

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma retains its 3.5-liter V-6 and two transmission choices. The peppy engine is rated at 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a six-speed automatic is optional. Power is routed through an electronically controlled, two-speed transfer case that provides part-time 4WD when the driver engages the system. Under normal driving conditions, only the rear wheels receive power.

Impressively, the Tacoma TRD Pro comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. While it has longish throws, the row-your-own gearbox adds more fun to the truck. For an extra fee, a six-speed automatic is available.

The Tacoma TRD Pro comes standard with an electronically locking rear differential. When in 4WD low range, the driver simply presses a button and the rear diff locks both tires together, making them turn at the same speed regardless of traction.

The Tacoma TRD Pro also has another couple tricks up its sleeve – Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control. Multi-Terrain Select has five drive modes for various terrains including mud and snow, loose rock, rock and dirt, mogul, and rock. Each mode changes settings with the traction control, ABS, throttle response, transmission shift patterns, and more. Crawl Control is like a low-speed cruise control. The driver selects a speed, and the truck maintains it by controlling the throttle and braking on its own, leaving the driver to concentrate on steering. Crawl Control also helps divvy up power to the wheels with traction. Unfortunately but understandably, neither of these systems are available with the manual transmission.

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
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As for fuel economy, the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro with the six-speed manual gets an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 20 mpg highway

As for fuel economy, the 2018 Tacoma TRD Pro with the six-speed manual gets an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Equipped with the six-speed automatic, the numbers climb to 18 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Fuel economy is greatly aided by the V-6’s high-tech wizardry. It features variable valve timing on both dual overhead camshafts, uses both port and direct fuel injection, and seamlessly switches between the Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles. The Otto cycle is used when more power is needed, while the Atkinson cycle holds the intake valve open for a split second longer during the compression stroke, and consequently uses less fuel during light-load operation.

Suspension

  • Upgraded Fox Racing Shocks
  • 2.5-inch diameter shock bodies
  • 46mm-thick pistons
  • Rear shocks feature 2.0-inch remote reservoirs
  • TRD Pro wheels add extra inch to track width
2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
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New for 2019 are improved Fox Racing Socks with 2.5-inch diameter bodies and 46mm-thick pistons

The Tacoma rides on a ladder frame with an independent front suspension with a MacPherson strut and a rear suspension consisting of a solid axle and leaf springs. While this is a traditional setup, the TRD Pro package turns the volume up to 11.

New for 2019 are improved Fox Racing Socks with 2.5-inch diameter bodies and 46mm-thick pistons. The front shocks have eight bypass zones along its travel while the rear Fox shocks have 11. The bypass zones are divided into two camps: compression and rebound. During the compression stroke (when the wheel is getting closer to the fender) the front shocks dedicate five zones to managing the wheel’s upward travel, with each zone getting progressively firmer. As the wheel rebounds and the suspension decompresses, three bypass zones prevent when wheels from falling to the end of the suspension’s travel.

The rear Fox shocks are also 2.5 inches in diameter but get a 2.0-inch remote reservoir that holds extra fluid. The extra oil helps keep temperatures in check during extended off-road driving. The rear shocks 11 bypass zones are divided into seven compression and four rebound zones.

Aiding the suspension are the 16-inch TRD Pro alloy wheels. Their offset adds an extra inch to the Tacoma’s track width, helping add stability. Toyota’s tire of choice is the Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain sized in P265/70R16.

Pricing

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
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Toyota did not announce pricing for the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro at the 2018 Chicago Auto show where it debuted, but we’re not expecting a major change. For reference, the 2018 model carries a starting price of $41,520. For that, the Tacoma TRD Pro comes in the standard Double Cab, short bed configuration with the six-speed manual transmission. Opting for the six-speed automatic pushes the price to $43,520. Keep in mind that includes not only the transmission but also the Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control systems.

There are no separate trim levels or major option packages to choose from, so the price only increases with accessories bought at the dealership. These include things like all-weather floor mats, wheel locks, side steps, and bed accessories.

The Competition

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension High Resolution Exterior
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The Colorado ZR2 launched in 2017 and currently represents the Tacoma TRD Pro’s fiercest competitor. The truck features impressive spool-valve shocks that were previously only found on supercars and F1 racers. The shocks are complemented by unique bodywork, 31-inch tires, and 17-inch wheels specific to the ZR2.

Power comes from either the 3.6-liter V-6 making 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque or the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel with 181 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed auto comes with the V-6, while a beefy six-speed gearbox comes with the Duramax.

Pricing for the 2018 Colorado ZR2 starts at $41,395 for the V-6 in the Extended Cab configuration. On the flip side, the Crew Cab with the Duramax starts at $46,495. (Both engines and cab sizes can be had together.) Check every option box, and the ZR2 will easily crest beyond the $50,000 mark.

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

Ford Ranger Raptor

2019 Ford Ranger Raptor Exterior
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There’s even a steel front bumper, LED lighting,
Aerodynamic air curtains, tow hooks, and a bash plate up front

At the time of this writing, Ford has announced the Ranger Raptor for the Asian Pacific market but has kept quiet on availability within North America. While we’re 99 percent sure Ford will launch the truck here, there is a chance the automaker could back out. That said, the Ranger Raptor is a beastly truck that plays off the F-150 Raptor’s success. It uses 2.5-inch Fox Racing Shocks, has unique and more aggressive bodywork, has a wider track for greater stability, and comes with several drive modes designed to tailor the truck to different terrains.

Unlike the competition, the Ranger Raptor uses a multi-link coil spring suspension with a solid axle under the cargo bed. It also uses a Watt’s Link to manage the axle’s lateral movements. This setup should prove smoother on streets while providing a more compliant ride over rough terrain. The front suspension uses the traditional MacPherson strut configuration.

Power comes from an all-new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel making 210 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, or to all four wheels when in 4WD. The tires are 285/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s mounted on alloy wheels.

Pricing hasn’t been announced, so we suspect it will be competitive against the Colorado ZR2 and Tacoma TRD Pro.

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor

Conclusion

The 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro is a modest step forward for Toyota’s mid-size, off-roading pickup. Now with the competition getting hotter, Toyota had to step its game up in order to stay relevant. Isn’t a little friendly competition a great thing? While Toyota’s bean counters might disagree, the end consumer getting his pick of three impressive pickups is the ultimate winner.

  • Leave it
    • * Not too different than before
    • * Will it hang with the ZR2 and Ranger Raptor?

References

Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro
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Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro

2016 Toyota Tacoma High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Tacoma.

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Read more Chicago Auto Show news.

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Read more Toyota news.

Press Release

The pulse-pounding, heart-racing TRD Pro Series from Toyota returns for its next generation of off-road dominance. For 2019, Tundra, 4Runner and Tacoma will all feature Fox shocks and a host of impressive off-road equipment tuned and designed by the engineers at Toyota Racing Development (TRD).

First unveiled in 2014, the TRD Pro lineup was born from Toyota’s rich racing and off-road heritage. All TRD Pro vehicles offer unique styling, as well as highly capable, tried and tested performance off-road equipment, specifically tailored for when the pavement runs out.

The 2019 TRD Pro series will be available in fall of 2018, and each vehicle will be offered in three colors that include Super White, Midnight Black Metallic or Voodoo Blue (a TRD Pro exclusive color).

Wanna go places? TRD Pro is the ultimate tool to get you there and back.

Only as Good as Your Suspension

As any seasoned adventurer knows, a true off-road vehicle is only as good as its suspension. For 2019, the entire TRD Pro family rides on 2.5-inch TRD Pro-exclusive Fox Internal Bypass shocks. Tuned specifically for each vehicle by the engineers at TRD, the aluminum-bodied Fox shocks offer impressive performance and supreme damping for a wide variety of driving situations. High-speed desert running, slow-speed rock crawling, or simply driving to and from work – drivers and passengers will be as comfortable as they are confident.

Whereas off-road race vehicles traditionally have external bypass tubes on their shock bodies to fine-tune damping pressure, each high-tech Fox shock compactly incorporates bypass zones inside of the shock. These multiple bypass zones offer a cushioned, plush ride during typical operation but get progressively stiffer through the shock stroke to provide excellent bottoming resistance.

The front shocks are paired with specially-tuned TRD springs designed for excellent ride comfort and to also produce additional lift, giving each TRD Pro an aggressive, heightened stance for improved trail-conquering capability. A combination of high-temperature shock fluid and nitrogen gas pressure are employed inside each Fox shock to improve bump compliance and to help maximize seal life.

Every TRD Pro model features rear 2.5-inch Fox shocks that utilize a piggyback reservoir to house additional oil volume, which assists in maintaining peak damping performance during extreme use. Tundra relies on the beefy rear leaf springs also equipped on the TRD Off-Road grade, 4Runner utilizes the TRD Off-Road grade rear coil springs, while Tacoma features progressive-rate off-road leaf springs out back to allow more compression suspension travel to aid performance over rough terrain. TRD dust boots are utilized front and rear to offer added protection to help keep dust and dirt out, and 4Runner utilizes unique roost shields to help protect the inverted rear shock.

Tacoma TRD Pro: Civilized Commuter or Trail-Tackling Specialist

Based on the very trail-capable TRD Off-Road grade, Tacoma TRD Pro ups the ante with enhanced 2.5-inch Fox front shocks that use large 46mm pistons and feature 8 bypass zones (5 compression, 3 rebound). They are paired with TRD-tuned springs that provide an additional 1 inch of front lift. A larger front sway bar is employed to retain crisp steering and refined road manners. The Tacoma also features 2.5-inch rear shocks that use 11 bypass zones (7 compression, 4 rebound) and are paired with 2-inch piggyback reservoirs.

A host of additional TRD equipment finds its way onto the new Tacoma TRD Pro, including an updated front skid plate with TRD red lettering, while the cat-back TRD exhaust is accented with a new Black Chrome tip.

Inside, passengers are treated to standard Entune Premium JBL Audio with subwoofer amplifier and Integrated Navigation and App Suite. Tacoma is equipped with TRD Pro-branded floor mats and leather-trimmed seats with TRD Pro emblems on the front headrests. Distinguishing the exterior are unique TRD Pro badges, projector-beam headlights with black sport bezels and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), Rigid Industries LED fog lights, taillights with black sport bezels, and a black TOYOTA grille.

Thanks to the offset of the 16-inch TRD Pro black alloy wheels, Tacoma has a 1-inch wider track both front and rear for added stability. Trail and pavement traction comes in the form of P265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain tires.

TRD Desert Air Intake: Clearing Tacoma’s Sinuses, No Prescription Needed

The most eye-catching of the Tacoma upgrades, no doubt, is the available all-new TRD Desert Air Intake. Designed to sustain consistent off-road performance no matter how silty or dirty the terrain gets, the TRD Desert Air Intake takes the 278-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine’s air intake away from dust that hovers inside the wheel well (where traditional air intakes are located) during off-road operation. This allows for air ingestion to occur in a cleaner space above the windshield, therefore, helping to benefit filter longevity and, ultimately, engine health.

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