Outdoor writers are a tough audience. They drive their trucks and SUVs into places that sportsmen want to read about and experience. It is their stock in trade. No wonder Toyota brought the 2015 TRD Pro Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner to the national outdoor writers conference in McAllen, TX last week.
The drive tests were held on a working ranch on shooting day and we were able to shoot a wide range of firearms in an event sponsored by the Izaak Walton League of America and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Smith & Wessen brought their full range of handguns including revolvers and semi-automatics. There were also a wide variety of rifles, shotguns and others, along with plenty of OPA (other peoples’ ammo).
At the same time, a large number of writers and photographers made time to take these very competent vehicles on the ranch trails; and when sportsmen and women take time away from a gun range to get behind the wheel, you can presume that these vehicles caught their imagination.
This was only the second time that people had a chance to drive these new trucks. The first was an event for a small number of auto writers in Las Vegas. I wasn’t included so this was my first opportunity to drive the TRD Pro-outfitted Tundra, Tacoma and (my favorite of the day) the 4Runner, which is one of the only body-on-frame SUVs in the market today. Alas, the FJ Cruiser will be driving off into the sunset after this model year.
Introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in February, the 2015 models mark the 35th year of business in U.S. and the Tundra and Tacoma are the only pickups made here. If you like them flashy, a new Inferno red is available in addition to black and white for exterior colors. I suspect that, if you opt for Inferno and yours is a daily driver, the local constabulary will be on the lookout for you.
The new TRD Pro package is available on 4×4 models direct from the factory, or — if you have the previous generation Tundra, Tacoma or 4Runner — you can add it to your existing 4X4 as an aftermarket product package.. It includes:
- TRD Bildstein shocks with remote reservoirs
- TRD-tuned front springs – 2″ lift for the Tundra and the Tacoma (which Toyota calls the ‘taco supreme’, and 1-1/2″ lift for the 4Runner.
- TRD front skid plate
- Unique front grille with special badging
- TRD floor mats
- TRD shift knobs
- Black wheels paired with Michelin ORP 18″ tires for the Tundra, 16″ BFG all-terrain for the Tacoma, and comparable 17″ tires for the 4Runner
All of the special features were selected for off-road prowess, but these are comfortable daily drivers, too, since — unlike off-road teams who have dedicated vehicles — when we make a commitment to a purchase like this, we need to know it will function as our regular transportation.
The course we drove was not hugely challenging since it had no hill climb, giant boulders or water, but it did reflect most of the conditions that off roaders encounter; of course, I would love to check out each of these vehicles at Moab. Maybe someday.