2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series is May delight

Now that I have given the thumbs up to the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X, lets give a shout out for Toyota’s newest Tacoma limited edition.  The Tacoma is the best selling mid-size truck in the country, and the innovation and imagination that have gone into this Baja darling make it a highly covetable sports vehicle.

 

Big enough for hauling an ATV

Two caveats before I start regaling you with a story about what makes this truck special — the first is that is due to deliver starting right about now; and the second is that the initial build (maybe, the only build) is a meager 750 units.  Move fast if this truck is going to be in your future.  Print out the photos if you lust for it but know it isn’t in the cards.

The Baja series will actually be a factory-executed addition to the TRD T/X 4×4, so this is part of the truck is basically  hand-built once the truck itself is created.  The enhancements will be done at the Toyota Logistic Services facility near the Toyota truck production plant in San  Antonio. 

A Baja racer extraordinaire

Baja and Toyota have been linked for more than 30 years, and the company holds numerous titles from both the iconic Baja 500 and 1000 races.  In fact, the desert racing program has been the force behind many of the company’s TRD off-road focus for both the Tacoma and the Tundra.

For the 2011 model, Tacoma’s Off-Road package was upgraded with the launch of the TRD T/X and TRD T/X Pro options.  The company still felt that there was more to be added for Baja racing and off-road enthusiasts.  It was always planned that these would be added as an in-house aftermarket level.

I had a chance to see this truck at the 2011 Truce Rodeo from the Texas Auto Writers Association.  Unfortunately it was look but no touch at that time but we were all itching to take it offroad.  A pre-production model (maybe even the same truck) was shown at last year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas. 

At that time, three Toyota execs talked about the Tacoma, noting its healthy reputation for quality, durability, reliability and off-road performance.  I agree with everything they said, but — alas — I have not driven the Baja Edition.  As a result, I am relying on the comments of other journalists who have, as well as Toyota’s specs and notes.

The Tacoma Baja will only be available as a V6 4×4 with either an Access Cab or Double (Crew) Cab, both with a short bed.  Choices include a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, and you can have any color you want, as long as its black or red.  Both have great Baja Series graphics on the bedside.  That is actually a lot of choices for a small build truck.

The truck features a 4.0L V6 engine delivering 236hp and 266 ft.-lb. of torque.  Fuel efficiency numbers are estimated at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

Special tires and wheels

The Baja has an electronically-controlled locking rear differential, Active Traction Control (A-Trac), hill start assist control and downhill assist control — already equipped on the current TRD Off-Road Package.  The edition adds BFGoodrich T/A KO tires (LT265/7OR16) and bead-lock style off-road wheels with an exclusive Gun Metal Gray finish, an increased front ride height of nearly 2-inches.  The TRD Cat-back exhaust is  to add a possible 10-hp to power train performance, but I can’t attest to this personally.

Other upgraded features include 60mm piston Bilstein racing shocks and red TRD coil springs with a protective zinc body and a 1-inch increase in wheel travel in the front.  The rear suspension is equipped with 50mm piston Bilstein race shocks with a remote reservoir to increase shock oil capacity for greater heat dissipation and damping sensitivity.  Rear shocks are also zinc plated and feature a 1.5-inch increase in wheel travel.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but is estimated at about $5,000 more than the regular production Tacoma TRD T/X ($32,000).  I expect the Baja to be a sellout, if it isn’t already; but, for most of us, the regular production alternative has everything we need in an outstanding mid-size sport truck.