Behind the Wheel: 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Test Drive

2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Test Drive

Electric Lime Metallic. It kind of sounds (and looks) like a Gatorade flavor. This bold new color, which is limited to the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro, has already gotten a lot of attention. But after getting behind the wheel of this truck and exploring many (I repeat, many) rocky miles of Forest Service roads in Colorado, I’m happy to report that there are other notable qualities and features worth giving attention to.

 

The Route

My test drive began in Golden, Colorado, where I met up with some fellow journalists as well as our logistics crew, who had mapped out an excellent route through both new and familiar mountain terrain.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and 4Runner TRD Pro

Clean, shiny test cars, ready to hit the trail. 2022 4Runner TRD Pro and Tacoma Trail Edition.

Day one began with some city and highway miles as we made our way out of Golden, heading southwest on Highway 285. The route climbed through the foothills, eventually reaching the summit of Kenosha Pass at 10,000 feet above sea level. Taking in views of the majestic Park Range towering high over the South Park Valley, we veered off the pavement, aired down our tires, engaged 4-high, and began the off-highway section of our drive.

We started with an easy section of trail to the summit of Georgia Pass, crossing it at 11,585 feet before descending along the Middle Fork of the Swan River. Eventually, the trail became more rocky and technical and climbed again, this time to a high point of 12,600 feet on the border of the Pike and White River national forests, where we enjoyed unobstructed views in all directions. From here, we followed switchbacks as we descended along Deer Creek, eventually passing through the old mining town of Montezuma and following the Peru Creek drainage to our campsite for the evening.

Don’t mind us, just a caravan of ‘Yotas rolling through.

2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro at the summit of Georgia Pass.

 

Day two temporarily brought us through civilization as we descended from camp into the town of Silverthorne. From there, we traveled State Highway 9 to Ute Pass road which led us through the mountains and into the borough of Hot Sulphur Springs. From there, we continued into the town of Grand Lake and onward through Rocky Mountain National Park, finishing the test drive in Loveland, Colorado.

 

2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Vehicle and Driving Impressions

As always, before I share my driving impressions, I think it’s important to establish an understanding of my experience behind the wheel of the Tacoma platform.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of driving quite a few different Tacomas, all of which have been older first- and second-gen models. This is simultaneously a testament to the quality of Toyota’s construction as well as an indication of my friends’ frugal car purchasing habits. I think mostly the latter, although I haven’t met a Toyota owner yet who has criticized the vehicles’ longevity. Perhaps my best benchmark for a more modern Tacoma test drive was the Titus Adventure Co. 2019 TRD Off-Road model, which I took to the San Juan Mountains in the summer of 2020. But to be fair, that rig had an aftermarket suspension as well as many other off-highway upgrades, but I digress.

 

2022 Tacoma TRD Pro Exterior

The 2022 Tacoma’s bold new Electric Lime Metallic paint scheme caught my eye immediately, as well as a handful of my Instagram followers who responded with everything from adoration to disgust. I prefer the earthier tones, and when it comes to recent Toyota colors, Lunar Rock is my favorite in the lineup.

Left: 2022 Trail Edition Tacoma. Right: 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro.

 

The styling of the 2022 Tacoma’s exterior has a few updates this year, including the heritage-inspired front grille, stamped “TRD Pro” branding on the driver’s side rear quarter panel, and “Tacoma” door emblem (which replaces the “TRD Pro” emblem from 2021) to name a few. I’m sure that enthusiasts will notice additional details.

2022 Tacoma TRD Pro quarter panel

The truck’s bed is still pint-sized, and I’m a bit skeptical of the new wheel-well cargo compartments that offer an extremely limited amount of storage space (and, in my opinion, functionality). The good news is that one side is insulated, and both compartments offer enough room for awkward-shaped items as well as a few road sodas.

 

2022 Tacoma TRD Pro Interior

Moving on to the Tacoma’s interior, it’s almost identical to the 2021 TRD Pro model. Overall, I would describe the blacked-out cabin as more sporty than luxurious, with black leather and silver accents. On this particular test drive, I also got behind the wheel of the 4Runner TRD Pro; I felt that the SUV’s interior was more befitting of Toyota’s highest trim level than the pickup, but it also makes sense as these two vehicles are aimed at different buyers.

In terms of driving ergonomics, I appreciated the positioning of the armrests, adjustability of the seats, and steering wheel. Even after many miles on the trail, I found the seats to be supportive and comfortable. At five-foot-seven-inches, I was also delighted with the seat’s height adjustment range, which allowed me to position myself a bit higher, providing me with a more optimized field of vision for off-highway driving. Again, when it comes down to comfort, I found the seating of the 4Runner TRD Pro model to be slightly more comfortable than the Tacoma.

I really appreciated the Pro’s inclinometer, tilt gauge, and multiple cameras, which do a good job of displaying a 360-degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings. It’s important to note for newer off-highway drivers that none of these tools should be considered a replacement for a spotter and good judgment on the trail.

When it comes to some critical feedback on the interior of the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro, I’ll start by pointing out that there is no handle to be found anywhere on the driver’s side to assist with entering the vehicle or stabilizing oneself while driving. To make using the infotainment system a bit easier to navigate, I’d prefer to see larger buttons and dials accompany the screen in the center console. And speaking of the screen, I wish it was larger than 8 inches and think a higher-resolution display is in order (especially the resolution of the vehicle’s integrated cameras). I would also prefer to see the rear locker toggle button relocated next to the transfer case dial (it is currently located in the overhead center console).

 

2022 Tacoma TRD Pro Trail Performance and Updates

The most compelling details about the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro revolve around its suspension, which sees a significant update this year. Fox brand 2.5-inch internal-bypass shocks provide 1.5 inches of lift in the front and 0.5 inches in the vehicle’s rear (the truck has 9.4 inches of ground clearance). Forged TRD-red upper control arms have been utilized to accommodate the increased rebound stroke of the Fox suspension, and in addition to providing enhanced performance, they look really beautiful.

2022 Tacoma TRD Pro upper control arm

On the trail, I found the suspension to provide a very comfortable and settled driving experience. During and after significant events, there was no excessive bouncing, inspiring confidence when approaching large obstacles and allowing me to drive through moderate terrain at higher speeds.

The suspension did an acceptable job of leveling itself on off-camber terrain, and the clearance for steep breakover events was surprisingly good. All of the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro’s clearances have improved over the 2021 model and are as follows:

36.4-degree approach angle

24.7-degree departure angle

26.6-degree breakover angle

 

For drivers that enjoy utilizing all of the technology that’s been packed into the Tacoma, the vehicle’s Multi-Terrain select dial offers specific traction modes for mud/sand, moguls, loose rock, dirt/rock, and rock. For the sake of the test drive, I selected the dirt/rock setting and was pleasantly surprised with the vehicle’s performance. I didn’t experience any wheelspin with or without the rear locking differential engaged in the 2022 TRD Pro model, and only a limited amount of wheel-slip when driving the 2022 Trail Edition without the locker engaged.

Editor’s note: The 2022 Tacoma Trail Edition that I drove during this vehicle test was a pre-production vehicle, and the rear locking differential was not functioning properly.

Also in our group of test vehicles, the 4Runner TRD Pro surprised me with its capability and comfort.

In addition to the Multi-terrain select dial, the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro provides a rock-crawling/hill-descent setting (CRAWL) that allows for (almost) completely autonomous slow-speed movement. Once engaged, (only available in 4-low) the truck takes care of acceleration and braking. Of course, the driver still needs to pick a good line and steer the vehicle.

Jackson helping re-spool a winch after assisting one of the vehicles that had slid off the trail due to loose rock.

In principle, this feature is a great concept, but in my experience, it felt a bit jerky. Once in CRAWL mode, the driver uses the terrain-select dial to adjust the vehicle’s speed from one (extremely slow) to five (still pretty slow). It’s worth noting that when CRAWL mode is engaged, the Tacoma makes quite a lot of driving noise, akin to the ABS system engaging, albeit amplified in volume. It can be a bit unsettling the first time you experience it, and the noises are even louder outside the vehicle.

 

The 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro is a Solid Offering from Toyota

Between its styling and performance updates, the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro sets a high bar within the medium-sized truck category. Right from the factory, the TRD Pro can handle everything that the vast majority of owners will want to tackle, from narrow, rocky Forest Service Roads to off-camber switchbacks and everything in between. And although this particular platform has some limitations in terms of payload and towing capacity, its rear locking differential, Fox suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, armor, and all-terrain tires make it an appealing platform for fast-and-light off-highway adventuring (cue the my Tacoma can do anything your truck can do comments below).

Exception views on the border of the Pike and White River National Forests.

I will wager a guess that most Toyota enthusiasts will be pleased with this third iteration of their beloved TRD Pro Taco. Toyota will begin production of the 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro in November of 2021, with a starting MSRP of $45,935 (M/T) and $48,640 (A/T).

 

Learn more about the 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro: Toyota.com

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Matt is a paragliding pilot and adventure seeker living full-time in a 25-foot Airstream travel trailer pulled by a Ram 2500. His love of the outdoors has driven him to explore remote destinations across North and South America in search of the most aesthetic peaks and beautiful flying sites. IG: @m.b.swartz