Breathe easy, Taco fanatics—Toyota has neither killed off the TRD Pro, its hardest-core, most off-road-ready factory Tacoma pickup, nor neutered its abilities. The limited-edition truck returns for 2019 packing the same Fox Racing Shox dampers, special exterior touches, and exclusive paint-color option that have defined the breed since 2014, before the Tacoma’s heavy refresh for 2016.
Once again, you can have the TRD Pro in any color as long as it’s Super White, Midnight Black, or—replacing last year’s Cavalry Blue—Voodoo Blue. (For those not in the know, the TRD in the name refers to Toyota Racing Development, Toyota’s in-house performance arm.) Oh, and you had better like the Tacoma crew cab with the shortest available bed length. No extended-cab, long-bed options for you! The TRD Pro’s front end keeps its TRD-exclusive blacked-out grille with old-school TOYOTA lettering, although beneath it Toyota has fitted a new skid plate. Only fastidious fanboys will notice that the standard TRD cat-back exhaust wears a new black-painted tip.
The suspension is still made up of TRD front coil springs that raise the ride height by 1.0 inch, progressive-rate rear leaf springs, a larger front anti-roll bar relative to non–TRD Pro Tacomas, and 2.5-inch-diameter Fox Racing Shox internal-bypass dampers front and rear. The rear shock absorbers even have external oil reservoirs. Beyond the suspension, the TRD Pro gets a locking rear differential and the regular Tacoma’s available 278-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
Four-wheel drive is, of course, standard, as are an electronic terrain management system, a six-speed manual transmission, a JBL audio system, leather seats, 16-inch TRD black-painted wheels, and Rigid Industries fog lights. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional, but we don’t recommend it—in our test of the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro, we found the unit’s widely spaced gears and odd programming made for busier shift behavior than seemed necessary.
One new option to keep your eyes on is the TRD accessory snorkel intake, which runs from the stock intake position inside the right front wheel well to the top of the A-pillar. Toyota describes the piece as advantageous for dusty, dirty conditions, as it draws engine intake air from the cleaner environs at the windshield’s altitude, rather than near the right front wheel. It isn’t clear whether the snorkel is waterproof to enable the TRD Pro to wade into deeper water, but we’ve asked Toyota and are awaiting a response. Either way, few pickup trucks this side of Ford’s F-150 Raptor and—if it comes to the U.S.—the smaller Ranger Raptor look as purposeful and tough as this Tacoma, particularly one outfitted with that dope intake.
Don’t expect the privilege of owning one to be cheap, a potential sticking point now that Chevrolet’s Colorado ZR2 exists (and the Ranger Raptor is likely on its way to our shores). The 2018 Tacoma TRD Pro rang in at $44,565 to start. As before, Toyota will build only a limited number of them—5000, to be exact. Better line up at your local Toyota dealer for one this fall, when the TRD Pros become available.