Although many people swear by full-size trucks like the Ford F-150 and the Toyota Tundra, off-road fans know that mid-size pickups are where it’s at. With a great mid-size truck, you get bold performance and capability in a small package perfect for navigating through tight quarters and getting around obstacles on the trail. The Tacoma has always been a favorite among many off-roaders, but the 2023 Toyota Tacoma is bringing a fresh look to the trail with several new options that provide stunning style with robust capability.
Performance and ability are the most important things for an off-road pickup, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look good when splashing through a creek or climbing over rocks. The beauty of the 2023 Tacoma is that Toyota hasn’t removed anything from it or diminished its off-road capability in any way. Instead, they’ve added to what was already available with new packages designed to give it a fresh look that stands out among the competition. While some people might delve into the excess of something like the Ram TRX, for those of us who prefer a car payment that’s lower than our mortgage, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma is a great choice.
Bold Power and Engineering
To tackle whatever the trail throws at drivers, the Tacoma has two engines available, starting with a 2.7L four-cylinder engine that provides 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. This is plenty of power for many drivers, but I’m looking for a bit more oomph on the trail, which is why there’s an available 3.5L V6 engine that delivers 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission, though the V6 is also available with a six-speed manual for folks who prefer that extra level of control.
As you’d expect, all of the off-road focused trims for the Tacoma feature the V6 engine because, let’s be honest, you need that kind of power on the trail. The V6 engine comes standard with Toyota’s Tow Package, which lets it tow up to 6,800 lbs. This makes the Tacoma a very popular option for anyone looking to take a boat to their favorite lake or has a small camper they like to haul behind them for that weekend in the wilderness. There’s a reason so many campers and hikers love the Tacoma since it’s perfect for a weekend of enjoying the outdoors, whether you prefer hiking, kayaking, hitting the trail on a bike, or taking your truck on an adventure off the pavement.
An Off-Road Foundation
There are two different trims for the Tacoma designed for hitting the trail, one of them is appropriately called the TRD Off-Road, and the other is the TRD Pro. Strangely, the model with “Off-Road” right in its name comes with either 4×2 or 4×4; why anyone would want a 4×2 drivetrain on an off-road truck is beyond me, but I didn’t design it. Assuming you choose 4×4 on the TRD Off-Road, it’s an excellent truck for hitting the trail with Bilstein shocks and 16-inch alloy wheels, plus Crawl Control with Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select that’s perfect for low-speed navigation and maneuvering.
Although it costs a bit more, the TRD Pro is clearly designed as an off-road monster; it has 4×4 standard, as it should, along with FOX Internal bypass shocks. The TRD Pro also comes with TRD Pro skid plates, Multi-Terrain Select and Craw Control, as well as a 1.5-inch front suspension and 0.5-inch rear suspension boost. It also has a Multi-Terrain Monitor with a camera, which helps increase visibility while maneuvering through tight spaces and navigating tricky areas. All of this is in addition to the Tacoma’s high-strength steel frame and body, which ensures it won’t be easily damaged while on the trail.
The Trail Special Edition
A couple of years ago, Toyota introduced a new option for the Tacoma with the Trail Special Edition, which has been improved upon since then and remains a popular option for anyone looking to go off-road in this mid-size truck. The 2023 model features a lifted front end thanks to taller coil springs that raise it by 1.1 inches. Standard SR5 models feature a front air dam for increased efficiency and aerodynamics; however, the Trail Special Edition removes this to help improve ground clearance; between this and the lifted front suspension, the approach angle of the Trail Special Edition models reaches 34 degrees.
The rear suspension gets the 0.5-inch lift found on the TRD Pro to get a departure angle of 23.6 degrees, while the breakover angle on the Trail Edition is also improved compared to the standard Tacoma model, reaching 26.4 degrees. With the Trail Edition, the Tacoma also receives skid plates to protect its undercarriage, along with Goodyear all-terrain tires that provide excellent grip and traction while off-road. All of this comes together to create a fantastic off-road option for anyone not looking to go with one of the dedicated off-road trims but still wants a mid-size truck that can tear up the trail.
Two New Style Choices
For the 2023 model year, two new options are coming to add a touch of flair to the look of the Toyota Tacoma. The first is the SX Package, previously only available on SR models, which has unique details that create a bold first impression with its slick overall look. With the SX Package, the Tacoma gets 16-inch black wheels, black exterior badging, unique bed graphics, and black overfenders to create a comprehensive blackened aesthetic. All of these dark details create a striking contrast against whatever color you choose for the Tacoma, plus they won’t show all of the mud and dirt that’s sure to accumulate on the trail.
The second new option for 2023 is the Chrome Package, which lives up to its name and takes the look of the Tacoma in a very different direction. With the Chrome Package, the Tacoma gains 18-inch chrome-finished wheels that immediately catch the eye, along with numerous exterior chrome details such as outer door handles and an exhaust tip. Not reserved only for the exterior; however, the Chrome Package also includes a leather-wrapped shift knob that compliments the overall look and feel. Both of these packages look stunning and create bold new styles that we’ll be seeing on the trail in the next year or so.
Comfort and Technology on the Trail
While luxury might not be the first thing we think of when talking about going off-road, there’s no reason to be miserable just because you’re out on the trail. The Tacoma offers impressive comfort features and technology in its off-road models: the TRD Off-Road, for example, has fabric-trimmed seating with a 10-way power driver’s seat, plus a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter. Inside the TRD Pro, you’ll find leather-trimmed seating and an exclusive TRD Pro shift knob – both models feature a 4.2-inch driver display, wireless phone charger, and an 8-inch infotainment display.
While the TRD Off-Road trim has a 6-speaker sound system, the TRD Pro takes things to the next level with a JBL speaker system that includes a subwoofer and amp. These models also come with advanced safety technology, like a pre-collision system and dynamic radar cruise control, which helps keep drivers safe on the way to their favorite trail. It’s easy to overlook these things while focusing purely on off-road performance, but comfort and tech features make a big difference for daily driving and enjoying the great outdoors.
The Off-Road Awaits…
With all of the off-roading options available for the 2023 Toyota Tacoma, now has never been a better time to be a driver who prefers to travel off the payment. Perhaps what’s most special about these off-road-ready models is that Toyota has thought beyond just the rugged trails. It’s more than just skid plates and lifted front ends; they have put as much thought into luxury and comfort as they have off-road features. It is why they continue to stand out among their competition and remain beloved by enthusiasts. If you’re in the market for a truck that can handle the challenges of more mountainous adventures, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma just might be your next off-road companion.