“2017 Toyota Tacoma expands its roster”
Joining Tacoma Ranks this year – TRD Pro model.
Just like Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma offers 31 flavors based on two cab types, the extended Access Cab and four-door Double Cab, each available in 4×2 or 4×4 configurations. Access Cab models provide under-seat rear storage space, while the fold-up seat cushions increase carrying capacity. Double Cab models feature 60/40 split rear seats with adjustable headrests and under-seat storage. Tacoma comes in six model grades, each suited to a specific purpose and with a unique appearance: a work-ready SR; a high-value / high-style, SR5; an athletic TRD Sport; an adventurous TRD Off-Road; the Top-of-the-line Limited; and the newest family member, the ultimate Off-Road Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
Last year, a lot of things changed in the Toyota Tacoma lineup, all of which seemed to be really good things. Some things on the other hand didn’t change all that much, or at least not enough to be dramatically different. The Tacoma has pretty much owned the compact pickup truck market as the Best-Selling mid-size pickup for 10 years running, since it first appeared on the scene, more than twenty years ago in 1995.
The first Tacoma came with a starting price tag of $14,678. and it was powered by a 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that yielded 11-mpg city and 9-mpg highway. Last year’s Tacoma had a starting price of $24,200 (including a $900 destination charge) for an SR trim Access Cab with the base 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder motor, six-speed automatic transmission in a rear-wheel drive configuration.
One of the most noticeable things was the seating position. My last recollection of earlier Tacomas was of nearly sitting on the floor with a relatively low seat height. The seat height has been raised, but so has the beltline, so the same sensation still exists, although to a lesser degree. Other interior improvements were more pronounced and distinctive for each of the available trim levels offered.
The base engine remains a 2.7-liter inline four-banger, with an optional 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle, Direct Injection V-6 with D4S (Direct and Port Injection) replacing the 4.0-liter V-6, which is phasing out. The 3.5-liter engine delivers 278 horsepower at 6,000 rpm for a net advantage of 42 horses, while reducing the pound feet of torque delivery by 1-lb-ft. (now 265 at 4,600 rpm) The torque and power peaks have bumped up higher in the rev range, and the V-6 redline is elevated from 5,500 to 6,200 rpm, while EPA estimated fuel economy has been slightly enhanced.
Available transmissions consist of: a 5-speed manual for the 2.7-liter four-cylinder, or a 6-speed ECT automatic; a 6-speed manual for the 3.5-liter V-6, or the same 6-speed automatic that does optional duty for the four-cylinder. Both 4×2 (rear) and 4×4 drive configurations are available in either of the two Cab styles: Access Cab (Toyota’s terminology for Extended Cab); and Double Cab (Toyota-speak for Crew Cab). There hasn’t been a Regular Cab available since 2014. Double Cabs are expected to account for roughly 80 percent of the mix.
The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 Double Cab takes its inspiration from Toyota’s legendary desert race trucks and was designed by CALTY designers in Newport Beach, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The new TRD Pro displays a bold athletic and unmistakable stylish identity, retaining the brand’s rugged functionality.
The TRD Pro adds the following features and equipment to the TRD Off-Road model: 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels; Goodyear Wrangler® All-Terrain Kevlar®-reinforced tires; TRD-tuned front springs with a 1-inch lift; TRD-tuned rear suspension with progressive-rate off-road leaf springs; FOX 2.5-inch Internal Bypass shocks tuned by TRD; TRD Pro aluminum front skid plate; Rigid Industries® LED fog lights; Projector-beam headlights with black bezels, LED Daytime Running Lights and an auto on/off feature; Taillights with black bezels; TRD Pro badge on front door with diamond-pattern knurled finish; Unique TRD Pro hood; Black TRD Pro and 4×4 rear tailgate badging; and a standard V6 Tow Package.
The Tacoma’s face is characterized by the tall muscular hood and hexagonal grille flanked by slender projection beam headlights, which may be fitted with available LED daytime running lights. The tailgate provides a damping feature for ease of opening and closing. There’s also an available factory-installed tri-fold hard tonneau for added gear security.
The fuel tank size remains at 21.1 gallons, but the fuel conscious V-6 coupled with the six-speed automatic should translate to an extended range. The power steering, which is hydraulically assisted, retains the same ratio and turns lock-to-lock so don’t expect a change in feel or response. The automatic Limited Slip Differential indicator lights up when the stability/traction control button is pressed.
The Tacoma TRD Sport’s hood scoop remains purely cosmetic and is non-functional. Tacoma’s rear brakes continue to be drums, the reasoning being that owners don’t do much towing, although the GVWR is now increased to 5,600 lbs.) and that drums are more desirable for off-road exercises. Thanks to an improved brake booster and ABS actuator, braking force is doled out precisely as needed.
The Toyota Tacoma’s bed interior is made of a sheet-molded composite, which is ten percent lighter than steel, is very durable and is resistant to corrosion. On the down side, it can prove slippery when wet. Beds are available in two lengths: short-60.5-inches and long-73.7-inches, both slightly longer than before and deeper as well, by 1.1-inch. The tailgate locks and incorporates an upper edge integrated spoiler. The interior complements the exterior’s toughness while serving up an enhanced comfort level coupled with increased functionality. Soft-touch materials and metallic trim accents. Available premium features include: Qi wireless charging; Smart key with push-button start; Leather-trimmed seats; Power tilt/slide moonroof; Dual-zone automatic climate control; Enhanced touchscreen audio; and Blind-Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
My 2017 Toyota Tacoma TDR Pro 4×4 Double Cab’s base sticker read $42,760., while the final price totaled $45,042 after adding a Glass Breakage Sensor, First Aid Kit, Bed mat, emergency assistance kit, paint protection film, Spare tire lock, universal trailer holder, mudguards, deck rail camera mount and alloy wheel locks,. My test truck wore a Cement exterior, exclusive to the TRD Pro with the interior finished in Black.
SUMMARY: The 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 Double Cab provides improvements over its predecessors, some more meaningful than others from the perspective of some current Tacoma owners. Let’s face it, some people don’t like change and can exist in a happy state with the status quo. The truck has received some positive styling enhancements without losing sight of its heritage – nothing revolutionary mind you, but rather evolutionary. The lockable, damped tailgate is a nice touch.
I found the new Tacoma TRD Pro to be a totally satisfactory hauler. The 3.5-liter V-6 is quieter, more powerful and more capable than the old 4.0-liter V-6 that it replaced, and the 6-speed transmission is considerably smoother than the old 5-speed automatic.
The truck delivers a comfortable and stable ride on road and handles well. The TRD Pro 4×4 shines in challenging off-road scenarios.
The most impressive off-road feature is the Crawl Mode, which may be set in 5 graduated levels. The Crawl Mode is ideal for exercising precise control when ascending or descending steep grades without any input from the driver other than steering and setting the appropriate mode parameters in advance. There are settings for sand and rocks, etc. to coincide with existing terrain conditions. Other manufacturers of off-road capable vehicles have similar set-ups, but none really surpass the Tacoma’s capabilities when the going gets tough.
Some of the switchgear still seems oddly placed in an overhead panel, centered above the interior rear view mirror, which really isn’t an issue for an owner familiar with the operation.
In the final analysis, the new Tacoma stable offers enough model variations, with enough improvements and enhancements to satisfy most discerning consumers. Will it continue to own the market segment, or will the ever-increasing competition and number of current satisfied owners threaten its status? Only time will tell. In the meantime, the Tacoma TRD Pro model is most impressive as the off-roading master, while also serving as a really good, all-around reliable hauler.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 Double Cab
Base Price: $42,760.
Price as Tested: $45,042.
Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle, Direct Injection V-6 with D4S (Direct and Port Injection) and TRD exhaust
Horsepower (bhp): 278 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 265 @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic electronically controlled.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Four-Wheel Drive on Demand – part time 4×4 system with 2-speed electronically controlled transfer case.
Suspension: Front – Coil spring double wishbone with 1.18-inch stabilizer bar.
Rear – Leaf spring with staggered outboard-mounted gas shocks.
Brakes: Ventilated front discs / Leading-trailing rear drum with ABS, EBD, BA, TRAC, VSC and Auto LSD.
Tires: Goodyear Wrangler All Terrain Adventure P265/70 R16 112T mounted on 8-hole/spoke black painted alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 127.4 inches
Length Overall: 212.3 inches
Width: 75.2 inches-with Overfenders
Height: 70.6 inches
Curb Weight: 4,480 lbs.
Turning Circle: 40.6 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 21.1 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 18 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.386
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.