The TRD Sport Tacoma is a popular truck in Toyota’s off-road series. But how well does the entry-level off-roader do on the trails?
The TRD Sport is a respectable off-road vehicle that performs fine in most situations, especially with the 4WD model. However, it lacks skid plates and other off-road features that make the TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro superior.
In this article, we’ll go over the features of the TRD Sport trim and compare it to the TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro. We’ll cover its advantages and disadvantages and review its performance off-road.
We sourced information in this article from trusted automotive specification guides and from our own experience driving the TRD Sport off-road.
What is Toyota TRD?
TRD, or Toyota Racing Development, is a trim level used by Toyota primarily to identify vehicles with certain off-road upgrades. TRD vehicles come in different arrangements, and the trim is available across several vehicle types and models.
In the United States, the most notable vehicles that are available in the TRD trim are the Toyota Tacoma, the Toyota 4-Runner, and the Toyota Tundra. These trucks and SUVs are available in standard base-model configurations as well as upgraded, luxury, and various levels of TRD.
TRD Trim and Performance Levels
There are several different tiers of the TRD trim, and they come with varying levels of off-road upgrades and capabilities. TRD Sport is the entry-level TRD, and you can usually identify one by the body-colored fender flares on the Tacoma pickup.
The next level up is the TRD Off-Road. This is the mid-grade TRD trim and the most capable standard truck sold by Toyota. It includes everything from skid plates to upgraded Bilstein shocks. On the 4-Runner, the TRD Off-Road trim gets a manual transfer case and automatic crawl features. TRD Off-Road Tacomas can be identified by their black fender flares.
The highest trim level in the TRD series is the TRD Pro. TRD Pro vehicles are the most off-road capable offered by Toyota, and they’re only produced in limited quantities. They’re objectively better off-road than the TRD Sport and the TRD Off-Road, and they have a hefty price tag to match.
TRD Sport Off-Road Features
The TRD Sport is the entry-level off-road Tacoma. It has more off-roading features than the standard SR or SR5 4x4, and it’s more suitable for rough conditions. It’s a well-outfitted truck by most definitions, but it’s not as off-road ready as the TRD Off-Road or the TRD Pro.
The features of the TRD Sport have varied a bit over the years, but the basic theme of the trim level is the same. This model has the same horsepower and torque specs as all the other V6 Tacoma trucks in its generation and a few additional features as well.
LED daytime running lights are standard on the TRD Sport, as are upgraded 17-inch alloy wheels. It offers dual-zone climate control and a 120-volt outlet in the bed with a built-in inverter. There’s also a wireless charging pad in the interior for your phone. And of course, it comes with keyless entry and a push-button start.
Does the TRD Sport Work Off-Road?
One feature that off-roaders expect is four-wheel drive, and the TRD Sport is equipped with Toyota’s extremely durable system. When not equipped with 4x4, the TRD Sport still performs fairly well off-road, albeit with a greater chance of getting stuck.
All in all, the TRD Sport is not a bad vehicle off-road. Stock, it performs better than most base 4WD trucks on the market, thanks to its durable design and high ground clearance. It’s also smaller than most trucks sold today, which is a big benefit off-road.
The TRD Sport is designed for off-roading, just not crazy difficult trails or climbing up cliff faces. The vast majority of people who drive off-road will find it more than adequate, and the truck will handle well, provided the driver doesn’t subject it to anything too extreme.
Benefits of the TRD Sport
The benefits of the TRD Sport are numerous. For one, the TRD Sport is less expensive than the higher trim levels, and you can still outfit your truck with 4-wheel-drive for a pretty good off-road experience.
The fender flares provide protection and allow you to use larger wheels and tires. This is especially important if you plan on upgrading your truck somewhere down the line. The truck itself has a relatively high stance and good ground clearance, which is beneficial off-road.
Additionally, the TRD Sport has the same engine as the TRD Off-Road and the TRD PRO, so you can enjoy the same power and efficiency that new Toyota vehicles are known for.
Downsides of the TRD Sport
The TRD Sport lacks a few features that the higher trim levels have, particularly in the electronics and suspension department. This trim doesn’t include Crawl Control or Multi-Terrain Select, which are both features that help the TRD Off-Road excel on the trail.
Additionally, it doesn’t have factory skid plates. Skid plates protect the engine and transmission from scraping on rocks and terrain. Skid plates aren’t particularly expensive to add, so that’s a fixable issue. Additionally, the TRD Sport doesn’t come with the upgraded Bilstein (TRD Off-Road) or Fox shocks (TRD Pro).
Is the TRD Sport Worth It?
If you’re looking for a well-priced and reliable truck for on and off-road use, then it’s difficult to go wrong with the Tacoma TRD Sport. It’s a great and capable truck with lots of cool features, even though it’s not the most well-outfitted four wheel drive on the market.
However, you might want to look elsewhere if you’re planning to do serious off-roading. Any kind of competition trail will probably require more than the TRD Sport has to offer, so you may want to consider the TRD Off-Road or the TRD Pro instead.
About THE AUTHOR
Corey has been off-roading all his life, starting from a very young age on ATV's and dirt bikes. As he's grown older, his interests have focused more on larger off-roading vehicles like Jeeps and Toyotas. He lives for the slow and calculated crawl up (or down) steep terrain.Read More About Corey Brooks