Are you ready to get a little mud on the tires? Whether you’re a total newb to the off-road world or you’re a rock-crawling, trail-navigating veteran, there’s no doubt that you know that the Tacoma TRD is one of the best and most popular off-road trucks on the market. In fact, you’ve probably already done an online search for a used Toyota Tacoma for sale in your area and discovered dozens of used Tacoma TRDs that would look great in your garage and even better on the trail.
So, what’s all the hype surrounding the Tacoma TRD, and why does nearly every off-road warrior swear by the truck? Carrying Toyota’s reputation for reliability, the Toyota TRD is incredibly capable, especially with trims like the TRD Off-Road that’s equipped with various terrain modes and off-road components like an electronic locking rear differential that improves traction when you need it most. But do you have to buy a new Toyota to launch your off-road adventure, or can you find a used Tacoma TRD with a price tag so affordable that you won’t mind a few dents and dings from rock crawling and trail running?
Sticker Shock: Used Tacoma Pricing
There are many benefits to buying a used vehicle, especially when you’re looking to take it off-road where it will likely get scratched on the trail. When you pay anywhere between $33,000 and $44,000 for a new truck like the TRD Off-Road or the TRD Pro, those scratches can sting a little when the truck is fresh off the lot. But taking that sting out is not the only benefit to buying a used Tacoma TRD. You’ll also avoid the drastic depreciation that comes with a new vehicle. With the first owner taking the largest depreciation hit over the first few years it’s on the road, you’ll reap the benefits and pay less for a truck that has an exceptional resale value.
Speaking of resale value, have you checked the prices on a used Tacoma TRD? This is where opinions differ, and the used vs new debate gets heated. But hold that thought for a moment. In the used market, Tacomas produced between 2012 and 2015 are a hot commodity among off-roaders. During this period, Toyota gave the Tacoma a significant makeover that included an available TRD supercharger that boosted the standard V6 engine to 304 horsepower. Toyota also added the TRD Pro package that lifted the Tacoma two inches and added a TRD-exclusive exhaust, bead-lock style wheels, and Bilstein shocks.
So, what’s the catch? You’d think used Tacomas should be pretty cheap, right? Not exactly. Tacomas carry the brunt of Toyota’s reputation for reliability, and they’re built as workhorses that can withstand everything from daily commutes and carpools to off-road adventures and beyond. There’s even a joke in the industry that the Tacoma will be the only vehicle to survive a zombie apocalypse, right alongside cockroaches, of course.
Jumping on the Bandwagon: Shopping Used Tacoma TRDs
To many drivers, Toyota’s reputation for reliability is well worth paying the price for a Tacoma, even if it means paying more for a used model. Off-road warriors are huge gear-heads, and for good reason, since off-roading can require a lot of gear like tents, sleeping bags, air tanks, and extra fuel. But off-roaders are also gear-heads in the sense that they enjoy modifying their Tacomas with lifts, tires, shocks, suspension kits, and more to create an even more ruggedly capable trail-runner. These mods aren’t cheap, of course, but that’s a small price to pay for those wild weekend adventures testing the truck’s limits, from fording streams and rock crawling to climbing out of mud pits and beyond.
All of this is to say that if you’re in the market for a used Tacoma TRD and you like the idea of a truck that’s off-road-ready, then you’re definitely shopping for the right truck. If you find a used Tacoma TRD that’s heavily modified and not Toyota certified pre-owned, you’ll want to ensure that all the modifications – suspension lifts, lighting, racks, grille guards, brakes, etc. – are fully operational. It’s also a good idea to check if the Tacoma TRD is under warranty and if any modifications or future modifications can void the warranty. While this is rare, many off-roaders know firsthand that there’s a gray area around mods and what a warranty will and will not cover.
Exterior, Interior, and Under the Hood
It’s important to carefully inspect the exterior and interior of the Tacoma TRD and note any significant dents, dings, and scratches. While normal wear-and-tear is expected on any used vehicle, you’re paying a premium to get behind the wheel of a Tacoma, and the price should reflect its condition. You’ll also want to check under the hood of the truck. Remember that off-road vehicles like the Tacoma TRD are pushed to their limits and travel across harsh terrains from water crossings to crawling over boulders. This can take a toll on the engine, transmission, and other vital components that, if not protected by skid plates, can easily be damaged.
Thanks to resources like CarFax, you can get a better idea of the truck’s history by asking for a detailed vehicle history report. This report lists the number of owners as well as its maintenance, repair, and accident history. Many industry experts also encourage potential buyers to have the truck inspected by an independent technician if the truck is not certified pre-owned. While this is an out-of-pocket expense, an inspection can go a long way to giving a potential buyer peace of mind that they’re getting a capable workhorse and not a truck on its last legs.
Known Tacoma Issues
While Tacomas are known for their reliability, the model isn’t exempt from a few issues that you should be aware of as you search for a used Tacoma TRD. The second-generation models with four-wheel-drive had some issues with front wheel bearings and the front differential, while models from 2016 and 2017 had problems with faulty camshaft sensors, stalling issues, and delayed transmission shifts, all of which Toyota remedied. Models from these years are still excellent to drive; just make sure that any and all recalls have been done before you buy. A pre-purchase inspection is a great way to check for things like this.
Another minor issue that you should be mindful of when shopping for a used Tacoma TRD is paint quality. Many Tacoma owners report bubbling in the paint, which, for many, isn’t a huge deal since this is an issue that can easily be fixed. Some Tacoma owners also report problems with vibrations when traveling at low speeds between 15 mph and 25 mph. Of course, not all Tacomas are affected, which makes taking a test drive even more important. Even with these small issues, this vehicle is still going to perform well off the road, where it belongs.
So, How Much Do You Like Tacos?
There are only two questions left to ask yourself as you shop for a used Tacoma TRD. How much do you like Tacos, and are you willing to pay the price? On your search for the perfect used Tacoma TRD for your lifestyle and adventure needs, be mindful of the pricing and resale value as well as any modifications made to the vehicle. If you shop smart, you’ll find a great truck that’s more than capable of handling your every on and off-road adventure.