2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road review: Rough around the edges

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

I are not able to deny it, the Toyota Tacoma is an desirable truck. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Toyota Tacoma is a thriller to me. Lovers of this truck are legion — it is really been the finest-promoting midsize pickup for all over a ten years and a 50 percent — nevertheless each and every time I exam just one it leaves me scratching my head simply because the steak under no circumstances lives up to the sizzle. 


  • Organization, managed journey
  • Sleek 3.5-liter V6
  • Beautiful inside

Never Like

  • Uncomfortable driving position
  • Unnecessarily major steering
  • Inconsistent shift excellent

Indeed, I know, the Tacoma’s blue-chip resale benefit and unimpeachable status for extensive-haul excellent are cornerstones of its enduring attractiveness. But there are some facets of this device that absolutely spoil the practical experience for me, like the awkward driving position and ponderous on-street really feel. 

Take a seat

If you happen to be on the taller aspect, you will not be terribly at ease driving this Toyota’s wheel, as each the seat and ceiling are far too very low. Even when equipped with a leather-trimmed, ten-way-adjustable chair, it generally feels like you happen to be plopped on the flooring. With the backrest angled rearward more than I’d like, my head is still virtually touching the roof. Front and rear, a 2020 Ford Ranger is vastly more at ease.

Tacoma engineers have been type adequate to involve a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a thing you’d feel would boost points, but no dice. Given that the wheel only moves all over an inch and a 50 percent in any way, the vacation is so limited it renders this aspect pretty much ineffective.

Never expect a wellspring of consolation in the Tacoma’s backseat, possibly. According to the spec sheet, my TRD Off-Road tester, which is equipped with the bigger crew-taxi overall body and a 5-foot-extensive cargo box, has 32.6 inches of rear-seat legroom, which tends to make it pretty cramped for grownups. The Tacoma feels noticeably snugger than a related crew-cab Ranger, considerably more than the 1.9-inch difference between the two would suggest. 

A durable, perfectly-produced cabin

The Tacoma may well be significantly less coddling than its Ford counterpart, but its inside has some positive aspects. This Toyota’s cabin is nicer all all over, with a more rugged style, superior materials and superior secondary controls. My truck’s squared-off dashboard is dressed up with bright-crimson trim and a swath of soft plastic on the passenger aspect that’s addressed to an desirable crosshatch pattern. The twin-zone climate-management system, which on this model is provided with a couple other points in the $4,285 TRD Top quality Off-Road package, is considerably more finger-welcoming than the Ranger’s setup. On major of all that, anything feels durable and constructed for the extensive haul.

Storage area is fairly superior inside the Tacoma. The door pockets are massive, there is certainly a smattering of cubbies on the heart console and the rear seat’s divided decreased cushion flips up to expose some hidden bins. This truck’s optional, $169 all-climate flooring mats are very proposed. Made of a durable rubber content, they must keep the carpeting risk-free from mud and slop for several years to appear.

My tester’s integrated eight-inch infotainment display screen is easy to attain, currently being mounted at just about the ideal height on the dashboard. A contact-enabled exhibit of this dimension is regular on almost each and every edition of the Tacoma apart from the entry-stage SR model, which tends to make do with a 7-incher. Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa compatibility and even Android Auto are regular across the range.

Managing audio, telephony and other functions is an infotainment system that’s as common as it is unremarkable. This arrangement moves at its possess pace (read: it is really kinda pokey) and the menu structure is not going to win any awards for intuitiveness or superior looks, but it is really at the very least suitable for the task. Pinch-to-zoom on the offered navigation system’s map, nonetheless, is incredibly responsive. 

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

This Toyota’s inside is handsome and perfectly produced, though consolation could be improved.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

As for other tech, Toyota Protection Feeling-P is regular on all Tacomas. This consists of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise management, lane-departure warning and automatic substantial beams. Blind-spot checking with rear cross-targeted visitors alert is optional, though lane-centering is not offered.

Toyota’s implementation of adaptive cruise management operates as intended, matching the pace of surrounding targeted visitors and sustaining a risk-free pursuing distance. It really is clean and rather responsive. Per common, the lane-departure-alert system is a minor irritating, reminding you each and every so usually of how undesirable you are at driving. Fortunately, it is really easy adequate to disable.

How ’bout that hardware?

Two engines are offered in the Tacoma, but TRD Off-Road designs only appear with the up-sector providing. Typically clean, this 3.5-liter unit feels like any other the natural way aspirated V6 offered these days, this means there is certainly not a entire ton of very low-pace grunt (torque tops out at 265 pound-feet) but it seriously wakes up from all over 3,500 rpm and outside of. Horsepower is a course-aggressive 278.

Passing maneuvers are a breeze in this Tacoma, but I’d be hesitant to tow or haul anyplace in the vicinity of its limits as the engine would very likely get out of breath in a hurry. With 45 more lb-ft of twist on faucet, the Ranger’s boosted four-cylinder feels considerably more strong, in particular down very low.

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

This 3.5-liter V6 is clean and fairly muscular. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Talking of working with the Tacoma to do, you know, true do the job, my tester can drag up to 6,four hundred lbs. Its maximum payload rating is 1,a hundred seventy five lbs. Both equally figures are aggressive, though significantly less than that Ranger I keep bringing up can manage.

Based on the trim, you can get a Tacoma with a six-pace handbook transmission, a thing that must be celebrated. Of class, an automatic gearbox, just one with the exact variety of ratios, is also offered. For superior or worse, this is the transmission my exam truck is equipped with, and it can be a bit inconsistent. In some cases it is really perfectly clean, when other occasions, particularly when you happen to be deep in the throttle, upshifts can be a bit hammering. It really is also unwilling to fall gears, demanding a nutritious prod to summon a downshift.

One more weak point is this truck’s throttle reaction, which is at times dead at preliminary idea-in. Fortunately, there is certainly an easy correct for this: Just strike the ECT Ability button on the heart stack. This puts the truck in a unique driving manner and generally tends to make the accelerator pedal considerably more linear. It also appears to keep the transmission from currently being a gear far too substantial most of the time.

In mixed use, I averaged 19.5 miles per gallon in this Tacoma. Which is a pretty unspectacular score, as I have performed a pair mpg superior than that in comprehensive-dimension vans ahead of, kinds that are considerably more spacious, at ease and highly effective than this Toyota. At the very least that true-globe determine is in line with the EPA’s numbers. According to the authorities agency, this device must return 18 mpg city, 22 mpg freeway and 20 mpg combined. 

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

That TRD-branded front skid plate is a $499 choice, just one that’s likely worth each and every penny for the protection it supplies.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

As its name implies, the Tacoma TRD Off-Road arrives with masses of devices intended to make it a proficient minor mountain goat. Naturally, this consists of a element-time four-wheel-travel system, though you can also get the Off-Road model with rear-wheel travel, which tends to make no feeling. Though not rather as capable as the Tacoma TRD Professional, this variant still functions distinctive suspension tuning with Bilstein shocks. It also arrives with a locking rear differential for additional grip in hard situations hill-get started aid, which keeps the truck from rolling backwards on inclines and a thing identified as Crawl Command. Consider of this final product as off-street cruise management. With five unique driver-selectable speeds, it keeps the truck transferring at a slow, steady pace so you can focus on steering all over road blocks, not running the pedals.

All that off-street hardware gives the Tacoma a business on-street journey, but it is really not unbearable. The overall body always maintains its composure, compared with a Ranger FX4, which virtually floats all over like a buoy in nor’easter. This Toyota’s brake-pedal really feel is also superior, wonderful and business without having currently being grabby. In comparison, the Ford’s is soggier than a damp loaf of bread. 

The Tacoma’s handling is protected but also weirdly laborious. It normally takes true arm strength to turn the steering wheel at parking-ton pace, like clench the rim with each palms and grunt. In modern globe of electric power-assisted anything this factor of the truck feels totally out of put.

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

I can respect the Toyota Tacoma even though I don’t essentially like it.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

It ain’t inexpensive

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma is offered in six trim amounts, from the base SR model up to the major-shelf TRD Professional. In the middle of this range is the TRD Off-Road variant. This truck starts all over 35 grand, which includes $1,120 in supply costs, but — and I hope you happen to be sitting down down — my tester checks out for a ton more than that, specifically $47,364. Yep, almost 50-massive for a midsize pickup that’s mediocre at finest. For these kinds of an outlay, I can feel of at the very least a dozen other autos I would considerably instead have than this Toyota, from a Bullitt Mustang to a Jeep Gladiator to an Audi A5.

Just after investing time in this pickup truck, I still don’t have an understanding of why it is really so well-known. The Tacoma is ponderous and uncomfortable, as well as its fuel economy and performance are totally unremarkable. Unless of course you happen to be a diehard Toyota admirer, for the total they demand, you happen to be superior off obtaining a thing else.

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