2018 Chicago Auto Show – 2019 Toyota Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner TRD Pro
A Switch to Fox Shocks and the Return of the Tundra TRD Pro
Toyota revealed its newly refreshed lineup of TRD Pro off-roaders, due later this year as 2019 versions of the Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner. Debuting today at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, the new trucks and SUV receive a thorough refreshing to try to keep them current among a growing list of off-road–ready pickups and sport-utes.
One of the more significant changes to the 2019 models is the addition of Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks to the 4Runner and Tundra (the Tacoma TRD Pro got the same shocks when it was redesigned for 2017). We’re not positive how we feel about that, as the outgoing Bilstein shocks used on the 2017 Tundra and 2018 4Runner TRD Pro were very, very good. However, the Fox units retain remote rear reservoirs on each model, and when matched with TRD-tuned springs, they provide added lift and wheel travel on each of Toyota’s hardest-core off-roaders.
In addition to the new shocks, each TRD Pro model will be available in Stormtrooper-chic Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, and a new TRD Pro–exclusive color, Voodoo Blue (a vivid Smurf-ish color last seen on the late and lamented FJ Cruiser). Gone is the old TRD Pro lineup’s controversial Cement color (discontinued in 2017) and unique Cavalry Blue (discontinued in 2018).
2019 Tacoma TRD ProThe Tacoma TRD Pro received Fox dampers when it was redesigned for the 2017 model year, so the big news for 2019 is an available TRD Desert Air Intake. Looking suspiciously like a snorkel for deep water crossings, the Desert Air Intake is billed as a way to ensure the Tacoma gets a supply of clean air in dusty, silty conditions. Since most air intakes are located much closer to ground level, Toyota says the Desert Air Intake’s location near the windshield header will improve air filter life and overall engine health, and we believe it.
The company stopped short of billing the Desert Air Intake as a water crossing aid, presumably as a way to limit liability. But nevertheless, it’s likely the intake would help improve the Tacoma’s maximum fording depth by relocating the air inlet from the wheelwell to the windshield. Traditional wisdom applies here: Thoroughly inspect all water crossings first before heading out into the drink.
Aside from the new snorkel—er, air intake—the 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro is pretty much the same as the 2018. A fully equipped leather interior with Entune audio, 16-inch wheels that widen the track by an inch, a 1-inch front lift, and Rigid Industries LED foglamps headline the alterations Toyota makes to the Tacoma to create the TRD Pro model.
As on the 2018 model, the new Tacoma gets standard Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P), which bundles automatic emergency braking, forward collision monitoring with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights. These safety features are shared with the next model on our list.
2019 Tundra TRD ProThe Tacoma’s biggest brother was significantly revised for 2018, and the company gave the TRD Pro model a little furlough for the model year. Thus, the off-road–ready Tundra returns for 2019, sporting those Fox 2.5-inch shock absorbers all around, with TRD Pro–specific front springs and the same rear leafs as the Tundra TRD Off-Road.
The suspension changes amount to an additional two inches of front lift (same as the 2017 Tundra TRD Pro), with front wheel travel improving by 1.5 inches. Ride height in the rear is the same, but wheel travel increases by more than 2 inches thanks to the upgraded shocks. Further improving off-road performance (and on-road ride quality) are new 18-inch wheels made by BBS. These forged-aluminum hoops reduce unsprung mass by 3.35 pounds per wheel, improving every aspect of the Tundra’s performance without sacrificing wheel strength. Plus, they look pretty dang cool.
For 2019, the Tundra TRD Pro gets the same LED foglamps as the Tacoma. Paired with the new LED headlights that are standard on every Tundra since 2018, these Rigid Industries foggers should do a good job of illuminating the road or trail in dark, dusty conditions. Those LED headlights get a unique blackout design (probably shared with the on-road TRD Sport model), and there’s a new hoodscoop, “TOYOTA”-script front grille, and TRD Pro stamping on the rear fenders to set the Tundra apart visually. And one of our favorite features from the old Tundra model returns for 2019: the TRD-tuned dual exhaust with black chrome tips. With a grumbly-rumbly sound coming from its 5.7L V-8, going full-throttle in the Tundra should be as fun as ever.
2019 4Runner TRD ProAs with the other two off-roaders, the 4Runner TRD Pro gets Fox dampers in lieu of Bilsteins. Special front and rear coil springs join the shock absorbers to provide an extra inch of front lift and wheel travel, and the 4Runner’s 17-inch wheels help widen its track by nearly an inch for improved stability off-road.
Functionally, the 4Runner TRD Pro improves for 2019 with the addition of a new roof rack. The stout cargo carrier is good for stashing “dirty gear or laundry after a weekend camping trip,” keeping the interior cargo spaces clean. Also in the interior is a newly standard Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. The infotainment system is also found in the Tacoma TRD Pro.
Outside, the front skidplate now sports red TRD Pro lettering, a jazzy styling feature shared with the pickups. There’s also a bolder front grille, new LED foglamps, and black-bezeled projector-beam headlights. Unfortunately, the 4Runner soldiers into 2019 without the active safety features of its pickup brethren, as the SUV doesn’t come with TSS-P.
Final ThoughtsWe have to cop to some disappointment that Toyota is ditching the Bilsteins on the TRD Pro versions of the Tundra and 4Runner. When we drove the Tacoma TRD Pro’s current suspension setup at high speeds over rough terrain, we found it to be a bit less composed than the previous-generation model, which used Bilstein dampers.
Still, if there’s one thing Toyota knows how to engineer, it’s off-road suspensions, and the company still touts its off-road racing heritage dating back to 1979. With such a legacy riding on their taller, broader shoulders, we doubt Toyota would willingly do anything to muck up the trucks and SUV in the TRD Pro lineup.
Regardless, the world needs more showroom-spec off-roaders, and we’re happy to see that Toyota remains committed to building TRD Pro versions of the Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel of each and give them a thorough shaking-down.