Since introducing the concept in 2014, Toyota has continued to refine the TRD Pro lineup. As a result, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro continues to be a favorite among off-road enthusiasts. Born from Toyota’s rich motorsports heritage, Toyota has gone out of its way to ensure that all TRD Pro vehicles are more than capable, utilizing tried and tested off-road performance equipment.

Some TRD Pro refinements have been more on the comfort or convenience side, like the addition of leather interior to the lineup. Or the new-for-2021 Lunar Rock paint, which replaces 2020’s Army Green. Lunar Rock is one of those colors that you either love or hate. However, with the aggressive styling of the latest Tacoma, it turns heads – and it still looks good in a coat of dust and dirt – making it a solid choice. If you fall into the “hate it” camp, other color choices include Super White, Magnetic Gray Metallic and Midnight Black Metallic.

More serious aspects of the TRD Pro evolution have been focused on suspension tuning. Changes to the springs, swaybars and shock absorbers over the years have improved the line both off and on the road. Fitted with 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass Shocks up front and paired with TRD-tuned coil springs, the 2021 Tacoma TRD Pro receives an aggressive lift for improved trail-tackling capability compared to the standard Tacoma. In the rear is another pair of 2.5-inch Fox shocks, these ones featuring piggyback-style remote reservoirs, which help ensure optimal travel and heat dissipation in the most punishing off-road terrain.

Image courtesy of Toyota

The 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels are a carryover from 2020, offering a lighter design and one-inch wider trackwidth compared to the TRD Off-Road wheels. In addition, our tester sported the very aggressive BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires. Given the tread blocks on these particular tires, we expected ample road noise and compromised ride quality – so we were delighted to be wrong. The BFGoodrich tires paired nicely with the TRD Pro suspension, providing a very reasonable ride on road, while the Tacoma’s cabin remained quiet.

Power comes in at 278hp and 265ft-lbs of torque, courtesy of a 3.5-liter V6. While this proven powerplant is plenty to motivate the Tacoma, it is on the thirsty side. As a result, we found ourselves unable to match the combined EPA rating of 20mpg.

Off road is where the TRD Pro line shines. In our limited opportunities with our tester, we were not even scratching the surface of its capabilities. Our Tacoma was far more capable than any of the terrain we offered it.

Towing presented our one minor gripe, although the issue wasn’t a showstopper. Manual mode shifting seems to be more of a suggestion than actual control, since the truck will still upshift and downshift at will. Then using only 4,000lbs of the Tacoma’s 6,400lb tow rating, we found the transmission often hunting for a more ideal ratio. Despite this, the Tacoma had no issue climbing hills or maintaining speed with a racecar in tow.

Our Tacoma came with an as-tested price tag of $50,545, which on the surface seems steep for a truck in this segment. Still, when you add up what it would cost to replicate the TRD Pro kit of parts in the aftermarket, this package makes sense for the serious weekend warrior who does everything from towing to hitting the trails. If you find yourself shopping for a truck with legitimate off-road credentials, unmatched reliability, and the ability to do work, the Tacoma TRD Pro might be right up your alley.