Mighty Like a (TRD) Pro: Toyota's 2019 Off-roaders Hit the Gym

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mighty like a trd pro toyotas 2019 off roaders hit the gym

It’s leg day at the Toyota Athletic Center. As the Chicago Auto Show kicks off, Toyota has changes in store for its off-road TRD Pro lineup that should help drivers of the brawniest Tacomas, Tundras, and 4Runners keep their sunglasses perched on their nose while blasting through an arroyo.

For the 2019 model year, the same 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks found on the existing Tacoma TRD Pro make their way into the full-size Tundra and midsize 4Runner SUV, along with other suspension improvements. The net effect is a higher ride height and milder manners both on-road and off.

In the case of the Tacoma, going TRD Pro means you’ll never leave home without your snorkel.

If you’re looking for big sheetmetal changes, forget about it. 2019 brings mainly content improvements, though there’s a few minor styling tweaks coming to the Tundra. (The Tacoma gains a very conspicuous external attachment, but more on that in a bit.)

The Fox shocks found on each TRD Pro model utilize internal bypass zones to keep things calm and tranquil on the commute to your IT job, amping up the unit’s damping abilities — and stiffness —as the vehicle starts approaches the limits of its suspension travel. A piggyback reservoir brings extra oil volume to each rear shock, helping soak up extra-hard bumps (and landings) during your stress-relieving weekend excursions. As before, extra ground clearance comes by way of TRD-designed springs.

In the Tundra, which joined the TRD Pro team for 2018, the suspension upgrades amount to an extra 2 inches of lift, front and rear, when compared to lesser trims. Up front, those new Fox shocks feature 11 bypass zones (seven on the downstroke, four on the rebound), while the aft tubes offer 12 steps to a softer life (eight compression, four rebound). Wheel travel increases by 1.5 inches in the front and 2 inches in the rear.

Sharp-eyed viewers might notice new LED foglights, complimenting the model’s LED headlights and accent lights. Above them, a hood scoop opens another portal into the engine bay, and the grille adopts a black, honeycomb mesh. Five-spoke satin black 18-inch wheels from BBS help shave just over 13 pounds from the heavy package, while the model’s black chrome tailpipes will surely get some notice from neighboring Miata drivers.

In the 4Runner, one of the longest-running “true” SUVs, the big news is those Fox shocks on each corner. The front dampers offer seven bypass zones; the rears, eleven. Going TRD Pro on this model lifts your butt an extra inch from the ground. Outside, the only change is the addition of a roof rack designed to put olfactory distance between occupants and a weekend’s worth of dirty socks and drawers. You’d want to abide by the 4/60 rule (four windows down, 60 mph) on the way home.

The most recognizable TRD Pro member, the Tacoma, doesn’t enter 2019 unchanged. Upgraded Fox shocks offer eight bypass zones in the front tubes, eleven in the rear, and a beefier front sway bar should aid drivers when they hit that fork in the road. Out back, a black chrome exhaust tip lurks below the rear bumper.

Poking above the passenger-side A-pillar is something else that’s new. A TRD Desert Air Intake ensures the Tacoma’s air filter doesn’t get clogged during lengthy, high-speed blasts across dusty landscapes. It also signals to everyone that you, the driver, are primed for serious adventure.

All TRD Pro models gain a quarter-inch thick front skid plate with TRD lettering, plus badging aplenty. An Entune Premium JBL audio system with integrated navigation and a suite of apps joins the Tacoma and 4Runner equipment roster, leaving the Tundra uninvited to the dance party.

Pricing details will land closer to the trio’s fall 2018 release date. Buyers can choose from three colors: Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, or the far more eye-popping Voodoo Blue — a color unavailable to non-TRD owners.

[Images: Toyota]

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  • Bloody-Brit Bloody-Brit on Feb 09, 2018

    Cannot beat the quality of a Toyota Truck. Last truck I bought was an F150 when I wanted a Tundra and constantly regretted my choice, small things like electric windows, fuel filler door kept going wrong. Drivetrain was fine, but I had the 5.4 and knew once past 100,000 it could fail. Anyway cannot beat the small trucks, look at this guy: http://www.dashboard-light.com/are-old-trucks-better-than-new-trucks/

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Feb 11, 2018

    "the same 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks found on the existing Tacoma TRD Pro make their way into the full-size Tundra and midsize 4Runner SUV" Actually no. They might all share the same brand of shock but they will be tuned for each application. A Tacoma tuned shock would not work well on the heavier Tundra and might be too stiff for 4Runner.

  • Jeff S We have had so many article about gas wars. A lighter subject on gas wars might be the scene from Blazing Saddles where the cowboys were around the campfire and how their gas contributed to global warming or was it just natural gas.
  • Jeff S We all have issues some big and most not so big. Better to be alive and face the issues than to be dead and not have the opportunity to face them.
  • NJRide Now more than ever, the US needs a brand selling cheaper cars. I know the old adage that a "good used car" is the best affordable transportation, but there has to be someone willing to challenge the $45k average gas crossover or $60k electric one that has priced out many working and middle class people from the market. So I think Mitsu actually may be onto something. Call me crazy but I think if they came up with a decent sedan in the Civic space but maybe for $19-20k as opposed to $25 they might get some traction there's still some people who prefer a sedan.However, I just compared a Trailblazer on Edmunds to an Outlander Sport. Virtually same size, the Trailblazer has heated seats, keyless ignition and satellite radio and better fuel economy for almost same price as the Mitsu. Plus a fresher body and a normal dealer network. This has always been the challenge off brands have had. Mitsu probably would have to come in $2-3k less than the Chevy unless they can finance more readily to the subprime crowd.
  • MaintenanceCosts At least on the US West Coast, Waze is perfectly happy to send cut-through drivers down residential streets or to disregard peak-hour turn or travel restrictions. I hope if it's going to be standard equipment the company starts taking a more responsible approach.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm more curious about the effect (if any) on battery lifetime than range. Drawing current faster creates more heat and if that heat is not promptly drawn away it could affect life of the cells.I agree this sort of thing can make sense as a one-time option but is consumer-hostile as a subscription.
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