Toyota decides to give the SUV another push by making it go rough and tough 18 years after its inception

Toyota has been jacking up its trucks and SUVs and slapping them with the TRD Pro cadge for a long time now. The ’TRD Pro’ suffix is a privilege of sorts these days, and the vehicles that are honored with it go on to become big. Seeing mainstream Toyota vehicles injected with TRD DNA are a blessing. At the Chicago Auto Show, the Japanese giant decided to add one more model to its lineup that included the Tundra, Tacoma, and the 4Runner. Toyota teased the new addition to the TRD Pro family a few days before the Chicago Auto Show commenced and people took wild guesses to figure out which model had been drugged. But Toyota dropped a bomb when the vehicle happened to be the age-old Sequoia SUV. Well, the rest is history.

Background

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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Although the main purpose of "TRD Pro-ing" SUVs is to unleash their off-roading capabilities. I believe it is Toyota’s way of refreshing and giving their old models a second inning by making them prominent again. Surprisingly, the Sequoia is the youngest member of the TRD Pro lot!

The original Sequoia was launched in 2001, the Tundra in 2000, the Tacoma in 1995, and the 4Runner back in 1983!

All the TRD Pro trucks and SUVs bring forth a new vigor and helps us to see them in a new light. As Toyota describes it, "the king-size Tundra TRD Pro is as comfortable crawling through mud as it is towing your boat. 4Runner TRD Pro is built to claw through challenging terrain and help you explore those places not found on a map. And the Tacoma TRD Pro brings the action to even the coldest, most remote corners of the Earth."

The Sequoia has been very stale for years now. It has been on the market for over 18 years, and continues to be in its second-generation that was launched back in 2005 The SUV started showing its age, was not the smartest one on the market, and came with a thirsty engine. For the 2019 model, it came in four trims - SR5, TRD Sport, Limited, and Platinum. All models were powered by the same 5.7-liter mill. As such, the Sequoia is not a slouch, or does not lack in any department per se, but it is not an exciting SUV in any way. At best, it is a proven eight-seater utilitarian known for its luggage and people-hauling prowess. However, the Sequoia aims at changing that image in its new avatar - the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro.

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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The Sequoia has been clocking sales figures way less than its primary competitors.

Chevy sold 104,153 copies of the Tahoe in the U.S. last year. Dodge sold 65,947 copies of the Durango, whereas Ford sold 54,661 units of the Expedition in the same timeframe. Toyota, on the other hand, sold merely 11,121 units of the Sequoia in 2018. This shows how poor the Japanese SUV has been doing lately. So, when you look at it from this point-of-view, Toyota did a good thing by adding the Sequoia to the TRD Pro lineup. The Sequoia TRD Pro was officially unveiled at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show last week, and it is more than just a new name or a sales tactic. With the Sequoia’s addition to the TRD Pro lineup, the body-on-frame heavyweight may receive the boost it needs to avoid a midlife (or late-life) crisis.

Exterior

  • Black accents replace the chrome bits
  • New skid-plate
  • Toyota lettering instead of the logo
  • New Army Green shade
  • Fox bypass shocks at the front
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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Toyota has not made the Sequoia TRD Pro look radically different from the standard model. In fact, the automaker has not even tweaked the body, headlights, or anything in terms of shape and size.

Up front, the Sequoia TRD Pro comes with TOYOTA lettering on the black honeycomb grille instead of the logo.

It loses out on all the chrome bits on the exterior, too. The headlamps and fog lamps are LEDs. Overall, the Sequoia looks butch and intimidating but shows its age. The only thing that makes it look ready for off-road duty is the skid-plate to protect the oil pan. There’s also a set of aluminum running boards and a roof rack.

The profile is as simple as it can get and feels like a six-year-old designed it. The fenders receive TRD Pro badges while the B-pillars and the base of the wing mirrors are blacked out. The SUV rides on 18-inch BBS wheels painted in black, and it looks quite hot with the white body paint that was on display at the Chicago Auto Show. The Sequoia TRD Pro is offered in four shades -

  • Super White
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Magnetic Grey Metallic
  • Army Green (Exclusive to TRD Pro lineup)
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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When compared to the rear, the front and side profile look glamorous.

The rear is outrightly bulky, and the bulbous round taillights don't help matters either.

Toyota only added off-road equipment to the existing Sequoia, but had the Japanese giant worked on the rear looks; the Sequoia could have aged more gracefully.

TRD Pro Specific Equipment

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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Once a vehicle qualifies for the TRD Pro badge, it receives a set of Fox off-road internal bypass shocks in the front, and the Sequoia is no exception. Despite this modification, it manages to offer decent tarmac ride and handling. The shocks stiffen up in off-road conditions, and it helps enhance the surface grip and hold.

The 2.5-inch shocks feature seven compression zones, two rebound zones - each of which are increased by 18 millimeters - and a reduced spring rate.

In the rear, there’s a set of Fox monotube shocks that are installed to prevent the body from thudding on rocky surfaces. The rear shocks are two inches, but have larger 47-millimeter pistons that are 50-percent larger than those found in the standard Sequoia rear shocks. The shock rods have also gotten beefier and are 3.2 millimeters wider.

Interior

  • New black leather trimmed seats
  • Finally supports Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa
  • TRD Pro headrests and floor mats
  • Toyota Safety Sense P
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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Just like the exterior, the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro is the same on the inside as the standard model, albeit with a handful of changes.

The Sequoia TRD Pro carries over the same vertical dash from the standard model which reminds you that you should not even dare to expect anything modern inside the cabin.

It does, however, feature a set of black leather-trimmed seats with TRD Pro lettering stitched into the headrests and red contrast stitching are well bolstered and comfortable. The butch SUV also comes with TRD Pro all-weather floor mats.

A new 7.0-inch infotainment screen is added to the center console, and it supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa! This is perhaps the biggest upgrade inside the cabin as the standard Sequoia features a 6.1-inch touchscreen that is not compatible with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Talk about this 18-year old veteran getting all tech-savvy! The other things on the feature list include:

  • Power Adjustable Seats
  • Heated Mirrors
  • Sunroof
  • Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Dual-zone Climate Control
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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Safety systems, including auto-brake and adaptive cruise control, also come as standard.

Just like the standard Sequoia, this SUV also comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P which includes things like:

  • Pre-Collision Warning
  • Pedestrian Detection
  • Automatic Braking
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Dynamic Cruise Control With Full Stop
  • Automatic High Beams.

Drivetrain

  • 5.7-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 unit
  • 381 horses and 401 pound-feet of torque
  • Six-speed automatic gearbox
  • 7,100 towing capacity
2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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The mighty engine seems fairly impressive on paper, but it does not reflect the same in reality.

The Sequoia TRD Pro comes packed with the same engine under the hood as the standard model- A 5.7-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 that churns out 381 horses and 401 pound-feet of torque.

While the engine and power output has enough grunt to get this beast running from the word go, it is the six-speed automatic transmission that plays the spoilsport here. For a vehicle of this size, a system with more gears would have made a lot of sense. This also explains why the standard Sequoia delivers just 15 miles to the gallon. The official specs for the Sequoia TRD Pro are not out, but with the added equipment and extra weight, we expect the performance and the mileage to drop down a little more.

As for the towing capabilities, the Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro can tow up to 7,100 pounds and comes with a tow hitch. To make things all the more interesting, you can opt for a harmonious exhaust as an option that adds to the beefy character of the reinvigorated Sequoia’s aura.

Engine 5.7-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 unit
Power 381 horses
Torque 401 pound-feet
Transmission Six-speed gearbox
Towing Capacity 7,100 pounds
Mileage (combined) 14 miles per gallon (estimated)

Pricing

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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The standard Sequoia comes with a starting price of $48,700. So, with all the additional off-road equipment, we speculate the TRD Pro to be priced in the ballpark of $67,000.

Competition

Chevrolet Tahoe

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe High Resolution Exterior
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The Tahoe has been on the market for over 24 years now, and Chevy knows the recipe to create a perfect SUV that appeals to the masses. No wonder this American SUV is the torch-bearer of the SUV market currently. Spec-per-spec, the Tahoe beats the competition comfortably. On the outside, the Tahoe looks bulky yet proportionate. The silhouette of the SUV looks timeless and modern at the same time. While the car breaks the bulky monotony with tasteful use of chrome, the RST trim ditches ’the silver lining’ in favor of black accents, and we got to say, it looks pretty good. This is the kind of aesthetic change the Sequoia TRD Pro should have adopted - subtle, yet effective.

The cabin of the Tahoe is excellent as per segment standards. The seats are supportive and well-bolstered, and the front row is very spacious. Things get a little tighter in the second row, but there is no dearth of legroom and headroom. The third row is well-suited just for kids or the most disliked members of the family. With all seats in place, the Tahoe offers merely 15.3 cubic-feet of cargo space. In terms of features, the Chevrolet Tahoe is well-equipped right from the base trim. The top-trim with all optional packages comes with stuff like -

  • 8-inch Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Five USB Ports
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Keyless Entry
  • Power-folding Rear Seats
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • Power Moonroof
  • Rear Seat DVD Entertainment System

The Tahoe comes with two engine options - A 6.2-liter, V-8 engine that packs 420 horses in the RST and Premier Plus Special Edition trims, and a 5.3-liter V-8 engine that produces 355 horsepower in all the other trims. All Tahoes come with rear-wheel drive as standard, but can be opted with the all-wheel-drive system, irrespective of the trim. Mate it to the Z71 off-road package you can get yourself features like -

  • Off-road Suspension
  • All-terrain tires
  • Skid Plates
  • Two-speed Transfer Case for Low Range
  • Hill Descent Control
  • 3.42 Rear Axle Ratio
  • Unique Grille
  • Recovery Hooks

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe drivetrain specifications

Engine 5.3-liter, V-8 unit / 6.2-liter V-8 mill
Power 355 / 420 horses
Torque 383 / 460 pound-feet
Transmission Six-speed automatic / 10-speed automatic
Towing Capacity 6,600 pounds
Mileage (combined) 18 mpg
Cargo Space (cubic-feet) 15.3 with all seats in place / 51.7 with last row folded / 94.7 with last two rows folded
Price $48,000 onwards

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe

Ford Expedition

2018 Ford Expedition
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The Ford Expedition is like that kid in school who is greedy for attention and comes to school dressed in the most blingy avatars. For instance, brick-red clothes with chrome sunglasses. If dressed sanely, the Expedition is a decent-looking SUV. It looks intimidating and, if you spot it in your rear-view mirror, you will give way. The boxy SUV is the Blue Oval’s offering to the market since 1997. You can opt for 22-inch rollers to enhance the butchy looks.

On the inside, the Expedition is perhaps even more spacious than your bedroom. It even has Brobdingnagian doors which make access to the third row a breeze. As is with a typical Ford, you can avail the best of features, but for a price. The base trim is not as well-equipped as , say, the Tahoe’s, but you can live with it. Other features that you can avail in the top-trim include:

  • 8-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Power Handsfree Tailgate
  • 10-way Power Adjustment Seats
  • Power Running Board
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Surround-view Camera
  • Rear Seat Entertainment System
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

The Ford Expedition comes powered with a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-6 that churns out 375 horses and 470 pound-feet of torque in the base trims. The same mill packs 400 horses and 480 pound-feet of torque in the top-end trim. The engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. You can opt for the FX4 off-road package for features like:

  • All-Terrain Tires
  • Underbody Protection for the Fuel Tank
  • Skid Plates and Running Boards
  • Rotary Electronic Shifter
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Electronic Limited Slip Differential
  • Low Range Transfer Case
  • Re-tuned Off-road Shocks
  • Custom Rear Suspension

2018 Ford Expedition drivetrain specifications

Engine 3.5-liter, Twin-turbocharged V-6 unit
Power 375 / 400 horses
Torque 470 / 480 pound-feet
Transmission 10-speed Automatic Gearbox
Towing Capacity 9,400 pounds
Mileage (combined) 20 mpg
Cargo Space (cubic-feet) 20.9 with all seats in place / 63.6 with last row folded / 104.6 with last two rows folded
Price $52,130

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Expedition

Our Take

2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro
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The off-road Sequoia with the TRD Pro badge will surely interest some consumers but it’s still an old vehicle. Toyota has a loyal fan-base but did not have a solid offering that could take on the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition, and the Dodge Durango. With this new offering, Toyota might be able to see sales to rise once again. However, I feel Toyota could have played a little more with the Sequoia in this avatar. The Sequoia offers less than what the competition offers in their off-road packages. Toyota should have also added more cosmetic stuff other than just eliminating the chrome bits. Look at the Tahoe midnight edition. It looks absolutely fantastic when compared to the Sequoia TRD Pro. Even adding a snorkel in the front, for instance, would have put this mammoth SUV on a different level altogether in the looks department. The same goes for the inside as well. Seats with TRD Pro badging does not sound very appealing. The Expedition FX4 Edition is so much more different than the standard model. Hopefully, Toyota will add this equipment as an option in the future.

On a different note, now that the Sequoia TRD Pro has gone through the gym-treatment, where does this put the Land Cruiser? Toyota was already finding it tough to justify its existence, and with the launch of the Sequoia TRD Pro, Toyota is in a bigger conundrum. It’s not like Toyota is short on off-roaders and butch, macho vehicles. Not to mention, the Toyota Land Cruiser - at $85,000 - isn’t exactly cheap. Will Toyota continue to play the fans-still-love-the-SUV card and let it live for longer, or was the launch of Sequoia TRD Pro the final nail in the coffin to mark the end of a legacy? Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • Still looks dated
    • Competition excels in basically every department
    • Fuel-guzzler

Further reading

What's New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia.

What's New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Exterior
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What it’s Like to Daily Drive the 2018 Toyota Sequoia

What's New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Interior
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Inside the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Platinum

What's New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia Exterior
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What’s New on the 2018 Toyota Sequoia

Outdoor adventure for seven is about to go farther off the beaten path than ever with the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro, unveiled today at the Chicago Auto Show. With a chassis fortified by a TRD-tuned Fox shock absorber suspension, plus an array of proven off-road equipment specially designed or selected by Toyota Racing Development engineers, the full-size Sequoia TRD Pro offers room for the whole family and an affinity for thrills.

The 2020 Sequoia joins a roster of TRD Pro vehicles that includes the Tacoma mid-size and Tundra full-size pickups and 4Runner SUV. Introduced in 2014, the TRD Pro lineup emerged from Toyota’s rich off-road racing heritage. The TRD Pro badge signifies a vehicle that’s capable of going where ordinary pickups and SUVs fear to tread, while still retaining the comfort for daily driving.

With its robust body-on-frame construction, four-wheel independent suspension, generous ground clearance and powerful V8 engine, the Sequoia is already one of the most capable full-size SUVs on the market. The TRD Pro version comes standard with Multi-Mode 4WD, which is optional in other Sequoia grades.

Fox Shocks: Ready for the Rough Stuff

A preeminent maker of off-road suspension components, Fox has supplied off-road enthusiasts and racers with pavement-escaping options for decades. The aluminum-bodied internal bypass shocks employed on the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro, and all TRD Pro models, are tuned by TRD engineers specifically for each truck or SUV’s unique attributes.

Compared to external-bypass shocks used on off-road race vehicles, the Fox internal bypass shock compactly integrates bypass zones inside the shock body, which allows the shock’s fluid to bypass the piston through regulated ports as it moves through its travel. Providing a cushioned ride during typical driving, the Fox shock damping gets progressively firmer through the shock piston’s stroke to resist bottoming over rough trail surfaces.

The tuning on each TRD Pro’s shocks is unique, and the front 2.5-inch Fox shocks on Sequoia include 7 compression zones and 2 rebound zones. TRD engineers reduced the front spring rate on Sequoia TRD Pro to improve its off-road compliance. The front shocks also provide an increase in rebound travel of 18mm.

For the rear suspension, Sequoia TRD Pro employs 2-inch-diameter Fox piggyback monotube shocks that feature bottom-out-control technology, which is designed to increase damping force for improved bottoming resistance in unforgiving terrain. Compared to the standard rear Sequoia shocks, the 2-inch Fox units feature larger 47mm pistons (15mm larger than original equipment) and beefier shock rods that are 3.2 mm larger in diameter.

The Fox shock bodies are constructed of fully anodized aluminum to help reduce weight while also efficiently dissipating heat to reduce shock fade during off-road driving. A combination of high-temperature damper fluid and pressurized nitrogen gas are employed inside each Fox shock to improve bump compliance and help maximize seal life.

Standing Out on Dirt and Pavement

One could never lose the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro in the parking lot of an outdoor gear store. The TRD Pro “TOYOTA” grille leads the charge, flanked by LED headlights and, below, Rigid LED fog lights. The Sequoia TRD Pro rolls on TRD 18 x 8-in. black BBS forged aluminum wheels wearing P275/65 R18 tires.

In addition to TRD Pro-exclusive Army Green, other exterior color choices include Super White, Midnight Black Metallic and Magnetic Gray Metallic. Whichever color is chosen, black TRD Pro front door badges quickly identify this special model. A TRD front skid plate helps protect the front suspension and oil pan during trail driving, while cast aluminum running boards and a roof rack enhance function, convenience and the adventurous attitude.

Sequoia TRD Pro will also be available with a TRD cat-back exhaust. The single-outlet exhaust features a black chrome tip and TRD debossed logo, offering a bolder exhaust note that TRD engineers designed with a frequency-tuned sound cancellation device to improve in-cabin sound quality.

The TRD Pro cabin treatment mixes ready-to-get-dirty function with luxury, because there’s nothing wrong with a little comfort out on the trail. Black TRD Pro leather-trimmed seats with red contrast stitching and “TRD Pro” stitched into the front headrests are comfortable and durable, while TRD Pro all-weather floor mats add bring-it-on cabin protection.

Sequoia TRD Pro’s long roster of standard amenities include Smart Key with Push Button Start; 8-way power driver’s seat; power tilt/slide moonroof, and tri-zone automatic climate control with separate rear-seat controls. There’s no shortage of onboard music sources with the standard Premium Audio, which uses a high-resolution touchscreen display and includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility, AM/FM/HD Radio, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio, USB media port, plus Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and music streaming.

Power to Spare

Like all Sequoia models, the TRD Pro offers just one powertrain — emphasis on power. The DOHC 5.7-liter i-FORCE V8, which uses regular-grade gasoline, produces 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s teamed with a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Notably, the big V8 produces 90 percent of its peak torque at a low 2,200 rpm, a boon to towing. Compliant with the SAE J2807 towing standard, the Sequoia TRD Pro can tow up to 7,100 lbs. and features an integrated tow hitch, Driver-selectable Tow/Haul transmission mode and Trailer Sway Control.

The standard Multi-Mode 4WD system uses a lockable TORSEN limited-slip center differential to apportion torque to the front and rear wheels, and a two-speed transfer case provides a low range ratio for tackling steep off-road trails. Low range is accessible on the fly via a rotary knob, while the center differential locks at the push of a button. Room for Adventure

The 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro is available exclusively as a 7-seat model, featuring middle-row captain’s chairs and a three-across third-row seat with 60/40 split backs that also recline. And there’s plenty of room for all. Second-row legroom stretches 40.9 inches, while the third row offers adult-size 35.3 in. legroom.

Carry lots of gear? The Sequoia TRD Pro can handle it. With both third-row seat backs folded flat, there’s 66.6 cu. ft. of carrying space, enough to haul camping gear for four. With the second-row seatbacks also folded, the space increases to a cavernous 120.1 cu. ft., enough for a really long camping trip. The Sequoia can even carry objects up to 11 feet long, provided the maximum weight is not exceeded. The liftgate has a versatile separate power window, with auto up/down and jam protection.

Toyota Safety Sense-P

Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) is standard on every Sequoia grade. This advanced active safety suite bundles the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop technology, plus Automatic High Beams. Sequoia gets even more safety with Standard Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

All Sequoia models are equipped with a dual-stage, advanced front air bag system, seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger, roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three seating rows, plus driver and front passenger knee airbags.

TRD Pro Upgrades All Around for 2020

The Sequoia TRD Pro leads a lot of “new” across the TRD Pro family for 2020. All TRD Pro models feature upgraded multimedia systems that include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner TRD Pros will all rely on an 8-inch touchscreen, while the Sequoia TRD Pro will feature a 7-inch touchscreen. In addition, all grades of 2020 Sequoia, Tundra, 4Runner and Tacoma will utilize this updated audio system, though screen size may vary between models.

The Sequoia and Tundra CrewMax TRD Pro are upgraded to feature the top-level multimedia system with JBL Premium Audio and Navigation, a feature still standard in both 4Runner and Tacoma TRD Pros.

Speaking of Tundra TRD Pro, for 2020 it will be offered in both Double Cab and CrewMax configurations.

The Tacoma TRD Pro shows the world an even tougher stance with unique sequential LED/DRL headlamps and LED foglamps, along with a new 16-inch wheel design and black-insert taillamps. The driver gets a new 10-way power seat, and Smart key function is added to the passenger door.

Toyota bolstered functionality for the 2020 Tacoma TRD Pro, as well. Ever wished you could have seen a trail obstacle before it was too late? The Tacoma TRD Pro shows the way – quite literally. New for 2020, Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) + Multi Terrain Monitor (MTM) provides selectable front, side, or rear views for around and under the vehicle. An available LED bed lamp offers brighter illumination.

The 2020 4Runner TRD Pro is distinguished by a new grille design, as the lower section houses the radar sensor for Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P), which is standard for all 4Runner grades for the 2020 model year.

Just like Sequoia, Tundra and 4Runner TRD Pro models add Smart Key with Push Button Start for 2020, and the 4Runner also gains two additional rear-seat USB ports.

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