In this cynical, electronically anonymous world, it seems like every time we mention Toyota, we’re met with snickers and snide remarks. And look, part of what those Facebook commenters say is valid—the Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner are some of the oldest vehicles in their respective classes, and they do suffer a bit for it. But with age comes wisdom and, typical of Toyota, reliability. And although the automaker rarely completely revamps its body-on-frame pickups and SUVs, it does invest nearly continuous small improvements into the lineup, making its trucklets far more competitive than their genealogy would suggest.
To wit: the 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro and Tacoma TRD Pro. The former was updated for 2019 with a new suspension setup featuring Fox 2.5-inch internal-bypass shocks, and for 2020, the midsize SUV gets standard Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) across the trim lineup. And the Tacoma TRD Pro has been mildly retuned to take advantage of new, forged 16-inch wheels that lighten each corner by 4.2 pounds. And finally, the Taco gets a height-adjustable driver seat—at last, the lowest position offers enough thigh support (just barely) for this 6-foot driver, a vast improvement over the old helm.
Claiming notable convenience, comfort, and driveability advances over the 2019 midsize TRD Pro lineup, Toyota invited us to join in on a little off-road adventure spanning Utah and Colorado, terminating at FJ Summit. Surprisingly, the mild upgrades suit both vehicles very well.
Our first day in Moab, Utah, consisted of a relatively challenging out-and-back drive through Hell’s Revenge. We started behind the wheel of a Tacoma, eager to see if we could notice the retuned suspension and lighter wheels. And on the relatively slow, undulating, sandy trail, they did indeed seem to offer improved ride-and-handling composure, though we’d have to wait a day to see if they quelled the pogo-stick motions of the 2017- to-2019 Tacoma TRD Pro. What’s more, the Toyota’s sure-footed traction-management system and aggressive Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure tires provide plenty of grip on the red slickrock and silty dust that comprises Hell’s Revenge.
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January - February 2020