First Ride: 2015 Toyota TRD Pro Tundra, 4Runner, Tacoma
For the true off-the-trail explorer, purchasing a new truck or SUV with an “off-road” package can be something of a bad joke. Sure, it may have a slightly more aggressive tire, some added styling features and a sticker telling everyone how off-road savvy it is, but when push comes to shove and you find yourself in rocky terrain or an uphill climb with a soft dirt base, will your truck truly perform?
The off-road packages offered from manufacturers can vary greatly, with some offering a true upgrade in off-road performance and others being more of a window dressing. The Toyota Racing Development division, or TRD, has become a recognizable tag on Toyota’s Tacoma and Tundra. It’s fair to say that the TRD Off-Road packages found on its Tacoma and Tundra trucks do in fact offer upgraded features designed to improve performance off the pavement, but there is always room for improvement.
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That’s where the Toyota’s new TRD Pro vehicles enter. When Toyota invited us to test these new models just outside of Vegas, the company explained that TRD packages are equipped on about 40 percent of the Tacomas it sells. Clearly these packages have been quite popular for the manufacturer, but with increasing competition with manufacturer off-road offerings, such as Ford SRT Raptor, Toyota wanted to take its packages to the next level with its TRD Pro vehicles, which will be available on the Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner. Toyota says the move is not intended to simply offer a new model for each vehicle, but is instead a re-launch party for the TRD brand with emphasis on the TRD Pro lineup of vehicles.
With that in mind, we headed out to the Toyota event curious to see what the TRD Pros had in store, and we certainly couldn’t say no to putting these vehicles through their paces.
TRD Pro Tundra
Every 2015 TRD Pro vehicle features a host of upgrades that really take the TRD package to the next level, but the Tundra TRD Pro might be the biggest standout of the group. Available in either a Double Cab 4x4 or CrewMax 4x4 option, the TRD Pro Tundra is outfitted with TRD Bilstein 2.5-inch coilover, remote-reservoir shocks fitted with Eibach springs both front and rear. The front shocks are designed to provide 2 inches of lift for the TRD Pro Tundra to level its stance, as well as help accommodate the unique 18-inch black alloy TRD Pro wheels that are fitted with Michelin LTX AT2 tires (P275/65/R18). The Tundra will feature a 1/4-inch aluminum TRD front skid plate that provides protection under the engine bay, while the OE fuel tank skid plate is still retained. The front skid plate is thoughtfully constructed to offer oil pan access for easy service.
One of the great features on the TRD Pro Tundra is the TRD Performance Dual Exhaust System, which is designed to reduce backpressure without exceeding the legal 95-decible noise limit. It provides a unique growl to the truck while also providing an additional 5 to 8 horsepower gain. The dual exhaust is constructed of 304 stainless-steel tubing to reduce corrosion, and it is thoughtfully routed from the 5.7-liter V8 Tundra motor to send spent exhaust through two independent free-flowing stainless-steel perforated-core mufflers that then exit behind each rear tire via polished dual tips that are etched with the TRD logo for that last bit of customization.
The TRD Pro suspension found on the Tundra is what helps the truck truly shine in the dirt. The 2.5-inch Bilstein monotube shocks with remote reservoirs feature a larger 60mm piston that dwarfs the 46mm pistons found in the OE shock. The new Bilsteins also offer three-stage position-sensitive valving to provide the ideal ride whether on the highway or the dirt. The Bilstein coilovers are also designed to provide an additional 2 inches of extended wheel travel to increase the Tundra TRD Pro’s wheel travel.
The suspension at the rear of the TRD Pro Tundra also utilizes the same 2.5-inch Bilstein shocks that are found in front, and like the front, these shocks feature remote reservoirs that provide an increase in oil capacity to help dissipate heat faster to provide improve off-road performance. The rear shocks are engineered to provide an additional 1.25 inches of extended wheel travel. Although the original stabilizer bar, end links and bump stops are retained, the new TRD-tuned Eibach springs were selected to provide an improved ride in bumpy terrain while also lifting the vehicle 2 inches for additional ground clearance – something that’s immediately notable the second you enter the cab of the Tundra.
There are a number of unique TRD Pro design cues found on the Tundra as well, including TRD Pro stamping on the rear quarter panels of the truck bed, unique TRD Pro wheels, and a TRD Pro grille that is based on the FJ Cruiser but also calls on the styling of previous Toyota trucks with its bold TOYOTA nameplate. Toyota also installed black-tinted front headlights and blacked-out 5.7-liter V8 and Tundra badging. Inside, the Tundra features unique TRD Pro stitched seats with a red-and-black color scheme, red stitching throughout. TRD Pro badging can be found on the center console storage, while a TRD shift knob is featured just below it. The truck also features a unique instrumentation panel ornament insert as well. The TRD Pro Tundra, like all of the 2015 TRD Pro models, is available in Black, Super White, and an exclusive burnt-orange color Toyota calls Inferno.
TRD Pro 4Runner
The TRD Pro 4Runner offers some of the same features of the Trail 4x4 4Runner setup, though the TRD Pro will obviously offer unique design and styling cues. Much like the Tundra, the 4Runner has a bold TOYOTA front grille that proudly shouts its branding while also paying homage to the design of the first-generation 4Runner in the eighties. TRD Pro styling is carried throughout the body-on-frame SUV, including TRD Pro black badging on the exterior, TRD alloy wheels, TRD floor mats, black seating with red stitching, a TRD shift knob and unique interior red stitching.