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  5. 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Test Drive Review

 
The current Toyota Tacoma has been on the market since 2015, but this mid-size pickup has been the segment's top seller for 16 years. Now, Toyota's reputation for reliability and its fierce customer loyalty likely play a huge role in this sales trend. But one of the strongest sales points to the Tacoma is its model diversity, which spans from the work-ready Tacoma SR to the go-anywhere Tacoma TRD Pro. In total, the 2021 Tacoma can be built in 33 different configurations! 

Toyota's TRD Pro brand is applied to a line of extreme off-road trucks and SUVs, and the Tacoma TRD Pro competes against mid-size off-road trucks like the Chevy Colorado ZR2, Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, and Nissan Frontier Pro-4X. With a host of updates coming to the Tacoma TRD Pro for the 2022 model year, we recently got to spend a week in the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.


2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Exterior

 
The Toyota Tacoma's design might be getting long in the tooth, but with its boxy lines and wide stance, it remains the best-looking mid-size truck out there. Thanks to the hood scoop, the TRD Sport and TRD Pro both have a more aggressive look. But with an aluminum skid plate featuring the TRD logo, "TOYOTA" lettering in the grille, and black 16-inch TRD wheels wrapped in Goodyear All-Terrain tires, the TRD Pro truly looks the part of an off-road performance truck. 

TRD Pro models are further distinguishable thanks to blacked-out headlights with illuminated TRD Pro logos and sequential LED front signals,  Rigid Industries LED fog lights, and LED taillights with a distinctive black insert. As if the bold styling didn't make the TRD Pro stand out enough, this tester was painted in the exclusive Lunar Rock finish, and it also had optional ($699) TRD Pro graphics on the hood and rear fenders. For a little extra protection, this Tacoma also had the $120 rubber bed mat.


2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Interior

 
Being the highest-priced trim level, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro comes loaded with premium features such as leather seats, a ten-way power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control. Plus the standard cabin technology on this trim level includes the 4.2-inch color multi-information display in the gauge cluster, JBL audio system, Qi wireless smartphone charger, and an eight-inch touchscreen navigation system. 

This large, user-friendly display is also how drivers can view the Multi Terrain Monitor, which uses four cameras to display a 360-degree view of off-road obstacles. For a more exclusive appearance, the TRD Pro gets unique interior styling elements like the TRD Pro shift knob, TRD Pro logo embroidered in the front headrests, plus red stitching on the seats and rubber floor mats.

In terms of comfort, the Tacoma is notorious for having limited headroom as you step into the truck (a result of the high floor and limited-adjusting front seats), but once inside, there is plenty of space for passengers and their gear. The front and rear seats proved to be exceptionally comfortable and supportive on a long drive to some off-road trails, and once on the trails, a half day of off-road driving didn't leave me or my passengers beat up or sore. When it comes to cargo space, the rear seat bottoms fold up to expose hidden storage compartments, and the seat backs fold down to create a flat, hard-surfaced load area. There's also more hidden storage space behind the rear seat backs.


2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Powertrain

 
Under the hood, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro features Toyota's widely used 3.5-liter V6 with D-4S Injection, which combines direct and port injection for a better balance of power and efficiency. Power output is rated at 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, and paired with the TRD Pro's standard cat-back exhaust system, this V-6 has the deep rumble of a V-8! The best part about the TRD Pro's powertrain is that buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission,  with this tester being equipped with the latter.

The short front overhang and tall ground clearance make the Tacoma a great off-roader. The TRD Pro makes the truck even better, as it features 2.5-inch Fox Racing shocks and TRD-tuned front springs which add an inch of lift, along with an electronically controlled locking rear differential. Unique features like the Multi Terrain Monitor, Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control (like cruise control but for off-roading) make it get the most out of the TRD Pro, but the incredible thing about the TRD Pro is how it performs perfectly as a highway cruiser and hardcore off-roader. The TRD Pro performed flawlessly in deep sand, high-speed washboard roads and rock crawling. But the more technical off-road maneuvers are actually where the Tacoma TRD Pro was the most impressive, as it has breakover and departure angles superior to the Jeep Gladiator.

On-road driving isn't sacrificed by the performance-tuned suspension with a ride quality that is still pleasant to as a daily driver. The Goodyear tires do a great job of limiting road noise, and the use of enhanced door seals, a multi-layer acoustic windshield and sound-absorbing headliner results in an amazingly quiet cabin. And when it comes to fuel economy, the TRD Pro has EPA-rated estimates of 18 city and 22 highway, which is  more efficient than the V6 versions of the Colorado ZR2 and Gladiator Rubicon.


2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Safety

 
All 2021 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab trucks come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, which is a suite of safety features that includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruiser Control, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System and Automatic High Beams. 

The TRD Pro adds rear parking assist sonar and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert to the list of standard safety features. Thanks to all this high-tech safety, the Tacoma 4x4 Double Cab models received a four-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Overall

 
With a new breed of compact, mid-size and full-size choices, the pickup truck market is hotter than ever. But when it comes to right-sized trucks with extreme off-road capability straight from the factory, they don't get much better than the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. 

As is the case with any enthusiast vehicle, the TRD Pro is a pricey proposition. While the base 2021 Tacoma has a starting MSRP of $26,400, the TRD Pro starts at $44,325. Tack on the added options of this particular TRD Pro, and you're looking at an as-tested price of $48,774. That said, you definitely can't build a more capable Tacoma 4x4 yourself for that kind of money!

Shop Toyota Tacoma Inventory


Jeffrey N. Ross
| Sep 21, 2021 
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2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger
4x4

Engine/Transmission

3.5L I6
278 hp, 265 lb-ft
Six-speed auto

Mileage

18/22
(city/hwy)

NHTSA Rating

★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.