It was over a year ago when we got a chance to spend some time behind the wheel of one of the two Expedition Overland Toyota 4Runners. That truck had just completed a swift trip to Panama and back. Shortly after our review Clay Croft and his team began work on their latest project, a brand new 2016 Toyota Tacoma.
The Tacoma has long been a favored platform for overlanding. The North American alternative to Toyota’s own Hilux, it ticks most of the same boxes with regard to on and off road prowess and certainly scores equally well for reliability. The one area where the Tacoma needed to be modified to meet the long-haul demands of the Expedition Overland team was with––livability. Enter the highly anticipated Tacoma Habitat from the gurus at AT Overland Equipment.
AT Overland’s Habitat was designed to create maximum internal living space without disrupting the vehicle’s weight distribution or load capacity while providing an easy and reliable setup. The bare shell is constructed predominantly of aluminum and weighs just under 350 pounds. At a fraction of the weight of a slide-in camper, it has far more internal space than any roof top tent. Inside the bed is a cavernous opening with 7-feet of standing height and a massive 84×48 sleeping area supports up to 600 pounds. The rear-facing opening even creates a natural awning further simplifying the overall vehicle built-out and setup. It’s an ideal solution for the swift-moving travel style favored by the XO team.
Storage capacity and access to essential gear items is of paramount importance to the XO crew. They have to be able to securely store camera gear while still allowing it to be grabbed quickly. Having a couple of flat working surfaces like a tailgate or drop-down shelf, are helpful when sorting camera gear or simply preparing a meal. A National Luna refrigerator and partner stove once again serve the team on their next adventure having proven reliable on past expeditions.
Storage above the cab includes waterproof Alu-Box containers flanking two jerry cans. The locking storage boxes can be accessed without removal adding to the convenience of the storage space. Tucked cleanly under the K9 roof rack is a 40-inch Rigid Industries light bar. (Below) Easy access is the name of the game with locking side ports to the interior of the Habitat.
The sharp end of the truck was fitted with a low profile CBI all-alluminum bumper housing a Warn 9.5XP winch spooled with synthetic line and fitted with a Factor 55 Flatlink shackle. Additional Rigid Industries LED lights augment the already bright factory beams. The improvement to approach angles is evident and the weight of the all-aluminum bumper comes at no penalty of pounds.
For another season, XO’s vehicles will roll on General tires, this time on Grabber X3 286/17/16 tires mounted to Toyota’s own TRD wheels. The 100% bolt-on CBI sliders protect the lower edges and blend into the all-aluminum CBI rear bumper with swing-out.
It’s the underpinnings you can’t see that really set the XO Tacoma apart. Clay Croft has always trusted Icon suspension systems and fitted their latest truck with an Icon Stage 6 kit augmented with Old Man Emu springs. You can learn more about the Tacoma’s well planned modifications by watching the video below:
Every XO journey involves big miles. These boys are not just slipping away for a weekend romp. On their next epic, they’ll cross an entire content which will mandate lots of seat time. The new Tacoma has a more spacious interior than previous generations and that extra elbow room will be a welcome addition. Because each XO trip involves multiple vehicles, staying in constant contact requires advanced communication systems. As with the 4Runner, the radio systems are cleanly mounted, out of the way, with no wires or cables cluttering the cabin.
The final details include MaxTrax recovery boards, a Hi-Lift jack, and two more jerry cans on the swing-out.
To learn more about the Expedition Overland Tacoma, visit the XO website by clicking on the banner below:
The Grabber X3 is rated 5.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon.