2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Double Cab Review - Not a One-Trick Truck

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

3.5-liter V6 (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm)
Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
18 city / 22 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
13.8 city, 11.7 highway, 12.9 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$46,665 (U.S) / $56,735 (Canada)
As Tested
$49,708 (U.S.) / $59,581.70 (Canada)
Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $1,915 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

If trucks are tools, some are meant for just one job, while others are capable of performing multiple tasks.

Count the 2019 Toyota Tacoma among the latter.

Even the off-road-oriented TRD Pro truck I tested was more than just a one-trick truck – it handled urban commuting tasks and a long highway stint better than either the Jeep Gladiator or Chevrolet Colorado Bison I tested later (reviews forthcoming; links here are to first drives).

Changes for 2019 are minimal – all Tacomas now have Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of driver-assist tech as standard equipment, two USB ports are added to the center console, and the TRD Pro gets standard JBL audio, standard moonroof, and available desert air intake that filters out dust to keep airflow clean.

Purchase a Pro package and you get 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass shocks for all four wheels, as well. Other goodies include a blacked-out hood scoop, front springs with a one-inch lift, rear leaf springs tuned for off-roading, front skid plate, LED fog lamps, LED daytime running lights, projector-beam headlights, black bezels for the headlights and taillights, 16-inch wheels, Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, and TRD Pro badging.

Frustratingly, I never had the chance to off-road the truck, despite being at an off-road park to work on this story. Due to time constraints and the fact I was there to test another OEM’s product, it sat forlornly on the sidelines, a few hundred yards from the fun.

Which is fine, as it turned out that unlike other off-road-ready rigs (hi, Gladiator and Bison) the Tacoma TRD Pro shines fairly well in commuting duty. The highway ride down to the off-road park in west-central Indiana was as smooth as could be expected with that all-terrain rubber. Not quite car-like, but not exactly truckish, either. Steering corrections weren’t needed much – wandering was kept to a minimum. When the wheel must be turned, steering feel is a bit heavy and artificial, but not unusually so for a modern vehicle.

Under my test rig’s hood was the 3.5-liter V6 that makes 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. It does the trick for around-town driving and highway passing, but don’t expect blazing acceleration, especially from an off-roader of this type.

The TRD Tacoma has the rugged looks that one expects, and even as the third generation of this truck ages, it still looks handsome enough. However, the outside is aging far more gracefully than the interior, which looks out of place here in 2019.

Old as the cabin may look, it’s not austere. Not feature-wise, anyway. Standard equipment on my test truck included leather heated front seats, premium audio, nav, Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, wireless cell-phone charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Base price: $46,665.

Just about every option was off-road-oriented. Desert air intake: $725. TRD air filter: $90. Paint protection film: $395. Bed mat: $120. Door sill protector: $79. Camera mount for the deck rail: $56. D-rings: $55. Mudguards: $129. And so on. Only a glass-breakage sensor seemed to be not strictly an off-road option, since that’s more of a security item. That sensor will run you $299.

After all was said and done, the sticker, including D and D, hit $49,708.

It’s frustrating to take temporary possession of such a boulder-basher and have it climb nothing more challenging that a driveway curb, but at least this truck doesn’t punish you too much while on-road. The ride is acceptable, the steering mostly tracks straight, and while the interior looks old, it still coddles well enough.

That may just be enough to make up for the lack of the Gladiator’s cool factor. Certainly, it’s a stronger on-road wheeler than the Bison.

Tacoma has been at or near the top of its class for a while now, so it’s no shock that Toyota has been hesitant to mess with success. Even the Tacoma’s dedicated off-roader can multitask well.

It’s less interesting than a Gladiator and less slick on-road than the excellent Honda Ridgeline. But so what? The Tacoma – both overall and this particular trim – cover the bases so well that it doesn’t matter.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 72 comments
  • GoNavy99 GoNavy99 on Nov 04, 2019

    Going to put myself out there and make the unpopular call that these things are even bigger "poser vehicles" than any garishly chrome-clad short-box put out by the Big 3. I'd go as far as to say "cult of personality," but only direct it to a small subset of Toyota owners (I personally own a Lexus). Target audience probably includes those who wished they were Eagle Scouts; "Veterans" who served on the USS NeverDock out of Guam; People who won't stop talking about Crossfit, and; Guys who wear fat beards to cover up weak jawlines. What...does this thing..."do?" Well, if you need to get out to the remote logging camp, but don't need to tow much back and don't need a heck of a lot of storage, then you've got things covered. If you want to race in some Baja competition, again it looks like you've covered most bases. But when you're doing what most people do with trucks (towing on the freeway, carrying lots of stuff), you're already behind the 8-ball having paid a huge premium for this thing. Not particularly comfortable, fast, powerful, etc. At least when you sell it to another Toyota fanboy, the resales will be high.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Nov 04, 2019

    Since it still looks a lot like the Tacoma my brother had in 2002, I'll pass. Especially for anywhere near 40k, let alone above it. I like this size of truck, my family had multiple Rangers and my Dad had a '78 Toyota Hi Lux until it rotted out (and was replaced with an 88 Ranger). Sadly, everything is so expensive now, even adjusted for inflation and added equipment that used to be more money in options. Plus, the new "mid-size" trucks aren't *that* much smaller than the big ones. I had to rent a Uhaul recently and was blessed with a 2019 F-150 XL regular cab 2wd with an 8 foot bed and the V8 with the 10 speed(?). Priced out on Fords website, it was about 32k. I have kids, so the extended cab is all I really would add, because it still had cruise, power windows and locks and air plus some other stuff. But in my mind, a truck like that should be 25k, not 32k. Gun to my head, go buy a truck tomorrow that fits my needs, which is 80% car and 20% truck? Honda Ridgeline. I really like the Gladiator, but too much money too. And I just don't want to deal with the bulk of the big trucks in the day to day world. It can be done, obviously, but its a PITA that I can afford not to deal with. 49k rents a lifetime of pickups for when I really need a truck.

  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.
  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern
  • Tsarcasm No, Japan only. Life costs by Rank:#1 - House (150k+)#2 - Education (30k+)#3 - Automobile (30k+) why waste hard earned money in inferior crap => Korean, Chinese, and American cars are trash. a toyota or honda will last twice as long.
  • Tassos In the 90s we hired a former PhD student and friend of mine, who 'worked' at GM "Research" labs, to come work for us as a 'temp' lecturer and get paid extra. He had no objection from GM, came during the day (around 2 PM), two hours drive round trip, plus the 1.5 hour lecture, twice weekly. (basically he goofed off two entire afternoons out of the five) He told me they gave him a different model new car every month, everything (even gas) paid. Instead of him paying parking, I told him to give me the cars and I drove them for those 90 mins, did my shopping etc. Almost ALL sucked, except the Eldo coupe with the Northstar. That was a nice engine with plenty of power (by 90s standards). One time they gave him the accursed Caddy Catera, which was as fun driving as having sex with a fish, AND to make it worse, the driver's door handle broke and my friend told me GM had to pay an arm and a leg to fix it, needed to replace almost the whole damned door!