Toyota Racing Development, also known as TRD, has been honing and enhancing cars, trucks, and SUVs from Japan’s largest automaker since 1979. With its 40th anniversary on the horizon, TRD has shifted its focus in the United States towards building rugged, off-road-ready versions of popular Toyota models under the TRD Pro variant. The Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner, and Sequoia are the lucky recipients of TRD Pro treatment, with each model equipped with new shocks, tires, and skid plates that make them exceptionally capable on any trail.
To determine which of the four TRD Pro vehicles is the toughest, a recent test was conducted at the Northwest OHV Park near Dallas, Texas. The park offered four different off-road trails with varying levels of difficulty: red, green, purple, and blue. The red trail proved to be the most extreme, featuring steep rock climbs, challenging moguls designed to test articulation, and plenty of mud. Toyota limited access to the red trail exclusively to its two most-capable off-roaders in the group – the Tacoma and 4Runner. The green trail was more moderate, with relatively steep inclines and mud puddles, suitable for all TRD Pro vehicles including the Tundra and Sequoia. The purple trail was relatively easy, featuring two semi-steep inclines and an undulating section, while the blue trail acted more like a high-speed dirt track with some hill climbing.
After subjecting the vehicles to several hill climbs, high-speed runs, and mud baths, the results were in. The Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro landed in fourth place. While it offered several rugged features like beefy 2.5-inch Fox shocks, a front skid plate, running boards, and grippy Michelin tires, it lacked two key features found in the other models – Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select. Toyota limited access for the Sequoia exclusively to the green, purple, and blue trails while granting the Tacoma and 4Runner the advanced red trail. Additionally, its sheer size and weight compared to the other models made it less refined and harder to navigate on the tighter sections of the trails.
The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro claimed third place, even though it shared the same platform and off-road components as the Sequoia. The Tundra boasted a better approach angle than any other TRD Pro model, as well as higher ground clearance. Despite its dimensions matching that of the Sequoia, its slightly lighter weight provided an advantage on the trail. However, it still lacked Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select settings, similar to the second-place Tacoma TRD Pro.
Speaking of the Tacoma TRD Pro, it secured the second spot despite being one of the oldest trucks in its class. The Tacoma still possesses excellent off-road capabilities, with the 2020 model receiving some upgrades to enhance its performance. It comes equipped with Fox shocks, skid plates, a two-speed transfer case, and the addition of a low-speed trail camera for easier navigation. Its V6 engine delivers solid power, but the torque might feel a bit insufficient in certain situations. The Tacoma’s smaller dimensions, better ground clearance, and approach angle make it a force to be reckoned with on the trails.
The first-place goes to the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, which offers the best off-road capabilities among the TRD Pro lineup. It shares most of its equipment with the Tacoma, including Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select, Fox shocks, skid plates, and a locking rear differential. The 4Runner’s dimensions, including shorter front and rear overhangs, contribute to its success on challenging terrains. Its V6 engine may be the least powerful, but the 4Runner’s overall design and proportions make it the most compact and nimble of the group, ensuring optimum performance on any trail.
Although the 2020 improvements on the 4Runner TRD Pro are minimal, it remains one of the best off-roaders Toyota offers. The addition of an 8.0-inch infotainment screen and Toyota Safety Sense P technology enhance its overall appeal. It may lack a trail camera, similar to the Tacoma, but its exceptional off-road capabilities make up for it.
In conclusion, the TRD Pro lineup from Toyota offers rugged and capable off-road vehicles, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. While the Sequoia TRD Pro lacked key features and felt less refined, the Tundra TRD Pro and Tacoma TRD Pro proved to be solid options with their unique advantages. However, it was the 4Runner TRD Pro that stood out as the best of the bunch, thanks to its compact size, excellent maneuverability, and exceptional off-road performance.