It's easy to ooh and aah over the custom trucks on the show floor at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. Your first thought is, "Wow, it would be really cool to add those aftermarket mods to my truck." But then reality sets in. To make your daily driver as cool-looking as the trucks on display at the show, it would cost tens of thousands of dollars, and would most likely reduce your truck's work capability.

Toyota decided that for 2011, one of the things it wanted to do was bridge that gap between SEMA irrationality and pickup truck capability. It created the T|X and T|X Pro, two new trim levels for its Tacoma. The T|X and T|X Pro came out of positive feedback from a concept Toyota Tacoma, called the TX Package, shown at SEMA in 2009. The TX had been displayed there to gauge opinion, which was so positive that the end result is the truck you see here.

The idea behind the new trucks is that Toyota has combined some of its performance packages, making them easier to buy on one pickup. Instead of bringing your ride in and having the exhaust, wheels, and tires added on, or ordering a truck with the individual components you want, you can get a Tacoma with all the goodies already in place. Not only does this eliminate the time needed to go from shop to shop to get the various items ordered and installed, but it can also save significant amounts of money. It's only available with the V-6 on either the Access Cab or Double Cab, and 4x4 or PreRunner, and are low-volume models.

Our Barcelona Red Double Cab 4x4 is powered by Toyota's tried and true 4.0-liter V-6, with the addition of a TRD performance exhaust. The exhaust is part of the T|X Pro package, which also includes 16-inch beadlock-style wheels with wheel locks and T|X Pro graphics. (The T|X includes all of the same features, except without the contents of the T|X Pro package.) Other upgrades include the TRD Off-Road Extra Value package -- off-road-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, BFGoodrich tires, locking rear differential, skidplates, foglamps -- and T|X Pro styling cues. The truck we tested also came with a tow package and a few other goodies, bringing the price to $34,581.

This Tacoma is a lot like other Double Cabs we've driven. It's easy to forget that the size of this truck is about where half-tons were not that long ago, when six cylinders were a more than adequate source of power. The Tacoma's V-6 offers plenty of power, and has the added bonus of the TRD exhaust. Throttle response is excellent, and the exhaust rumble sounds cool off the line, but at midrange and around town, the note drones. Fortunately, the drone essentially disappears at freeway speeds, making it much more tolerable on long highway drives -- something that most SEMA trucks can't boast. Also an advantage over the typical SEMA truck is the Tacoma's ride. This pickup is comfortable and lends itself well to high-mileage jaunts.

The last time we tested a Tacoma, it was a 2008 TRD with the supercharged 4.0-liter V-6, a setup that offered 304 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque, a lot more than the T|X Pro's 236 and 266. Therefore it's like comparing apples to oranges. The S/C hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and had a 14.3:1 weight to power ratio. A closer comparison would be to our long-term 2005 Tacoma PreRunner, which got to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 15.2 seconds at 90.1 mph. Yet, unfortunately, that's also apples to oranges, as that was the last year the 4.0-liter V-6 put out 245 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque. With six fewer horses and 16 fewer pound-feet under the hood, plus 400 pounds more weight than in the '05 PreRunner, the T|X Pro was slower, going from 0-60 in 7.4 seconds and completing the quarter mile in 15.8 seconds at 86.0 mph, with a weight to power ratio of 18.0:1. Braking was comparable to that of past tested Tacomas, stopping in 128 feet from 60 mph. The brakes responded very well to driver input, as one staffer found out when he had to make an emergency stop on the freeway when someone else did something silly. The Tacoma's brakes proved to inspire confidence, and what could've been an accident was easily avoided.

The style of the T|X Pro adds enough aftermarket flair to make it stand out from a standard Tacoma, and the packages don't add so much to the bottom line to make these Toyotas prohibitively expensive. In addition, that the modifications come from Toyota means that they're covered by the company's three-year/36,000-mile warranty. Comfortable ride, reasonable price, and aftermarket style -- it may not be for everyone, but for those who want to drive a truck that has its roots in SEMA, this is definitely a good one to consider.


2011 Toyota Tacoma T|X Pro Double Cab 4x4
Base price $27,835
Price as Tested $34,581
Vehicle layout Front engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door pickup
Engine 4.0L/236-hp/266-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4256 lb (56/44%)
Wheelbase 127.4 in
Length x width x height 208.1 x 74.6 x 70.1 in
0-60 mph 7.4 sec
Quarter mile 15.8 sec @ 86.0 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.73 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 29.0 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/20 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.10 lb/mile
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