2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Review

If Cobra Kai's John Kreese was a pickup truck


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Serious off-road capabilities get upped in TRD Pro trim, badass look, built like a tank.
Negatives: The worst driving position in the automotive industry, engine sound outdoes the actual fury, numb on-road experience, dated interior and ergonomics, infotainment blows chunks.
Bottom Line: The Tacoma, shockingly, still sells like hotcakes. Unless you off-road, there's no point in buying this truck. It's just terrible to sit in and can't manage even a mediocre driving experience. It's overdue for a redesign inside and out, post haste.
Toyota is, thankfully, on the verge of redesigning the Tacoma, and it's painfully long overdue. The current Tacoma hasn't changed since the 2016 model year, and boy does it ever show. Sitting in one amounts to an exercise in masochism, a sacrifice many are willing to make due to its tremendous off-pavement capabilities and its ridiculously good reliability. The TRD Pro is the top dog in the long trim lineup that amounts to seven versions. We drove the aging pickup in TRD Pro trim, and you can read our full impressions below.
 

Driving Experience

5.9

 

To dive a Tacoma TRD Pro on road is like driving a ship. It's floaty, vague, and almost completely without connection to the pavement. What it does off-road is the polar opposite of what it can manage on asphalt.

Ride Quality: The Tacoma's ride is on the firm side, for sure. It can handle bumps and gaps well, but competitors do a better job of feeling more composed.

Acceleration: The V6 with 278 horsepower is strong, but it gets hampered by a tepid automatic transmission that's slow to shift. It'll hit 60 mph in just over 7 seconds, but it actually feels slower.

Braking: Braking has poor pedal feel, and it's generally quite mushy. It doesn't provide much confidence under hard driving or even in normal conditions.

Steering: Steering is good and actually quite responsive, but it's pretty vague as far as feel and placement. There's a solid amount of effort involved, at least. .

Handling: The Tacoma TRD Pro's lifted suspension and bigger tires contribute to even more body roll than the other trim levels. You can feel it in the turns, but as long as you push it too hard, the Tacoma manages to hang on.

Technology

5.9

 

The Tacoma thankfully gets a decent touchscreen size, despite the fact that the actual system is still just mediocre. Of course, Toyota won't bother to put its latest hardware and software into this dinosaur, and we don't blame them. Still, it's about as rudimentary as an infotainment system can get nowadays.

Infotainment System: Toyota gave the Tacoma an 8" touchscreen, and it's fine. The graphics are dull and the screen has lag, but it works. The contrast of a newer system might just make the rest of the cabin look and feel that much older.

Controls: Controls in the Tacoma are largely physical, which is a good thing, but they're not exactly ergonomic. The climate controls dials and buttons seem very dated, and the steering wheel buttons are not intuitive at all. When advancing music is up and down and volume is side-to-side, that makes no sense whatsoever.

Styling

7.2

 

The Tacoma TRD Pro is distinct, especially in black and orange (or salmon?). The black wheels, black trim, and black hood graphics look great. It's just not all that modern looking, but apparently Tacoma buyers prefer it that way.

Front: The big black grille, black hood accents, and the black trim in the front fascia look intimidating. The headlights are a little busy for our liking, but overall the front end is a proper off-road truck fascia.

Rear: Not much has changed about the back end of the Tacoma except for the black TRD Pro trim added to the mix. The rounded taillights could use some angularity to match the headlights.

Profile: The black trim and wheels look great, but they can't hide the dated profile. The bed looks really short compared to the long hood and double cab.

Cabin: The Tacoma's interior is overly dark, but at least the shapes aren't overly blocky. We like the Tacoma's round HVAC vents and the big traditional shifter. The steering wheel is a tad too thick to be comfortable.

Comfort

5.6

 

The Tacoma is not a place to spend a lot of time because of its compromised seating position poorly telescoping steering wheel, which moves only about two inches. It's also hard to see out of over the top of the hood. We can't seem to get over how bad the seating position is.

Front Seats: The seats have ok cushioning and support, but they're situated too low. You step up too high only to have a floor that's too close to the seat cushion. The steering wheel is also far too forward even in its most extended position. This seating position is just terrible.

Rear Seats: It's tight back there in double cab configuration, and the seat cushions are flat. Legroom is tight, too.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The big off-road tires make noise at highway speeds, and the engine wheezes like it's got emphysema. The cabin is solidly built, at least.

Visibility: Visibility is compromised in tight situations, and seeing over the bulging hood is a challenge. The rear camera is a necessity for backing up.

Climate: The heated seats worked well, as did the climate system thanks to the big circular vents.

Safety

6.6

 

The Tacoma didn't fare all that well in crash testing for the 2022 model year, and it drops in the rankings. Of course, the Tacoma does come with a good set of standard safety features.

IIHS Rating: The Tacoma has been demoted in the safety rankings largely due to more stringent criteria. The Tacoma didn't do well in the Small overlap front passenger-side crash test nor in headlights in some trims. It no longer wins any awards from the IIHS.

NHTSA Rating: It earned four stars from the federal government.

Standard Tech: Toyota Safety Sense P comes with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

6.9

 

The Tacoma does a pretty good job of providing small items storage and bed storage, as expected in the midsize pickup segment. We're not wowed by the interior storage options, but they're respectable.

Storage Space: The center console has usable space an open compartments in front of the shift knob, sizable cupholders, and a medium-sized armrest. The door pockets are decently sized, too.

Cargo Room: The bed is 60.5 inches long and 41.5 inches wide, and the tailgate can be removed to accomodate longer cargo. The bed capacity is 1,175 lbs, and the Tacoma can tow up to 6,400 pounds.

Fuel Economy

5.8

 

The Tacoma's V6 is thirsty, loud, and it doesn't provide much grunt. We were disappointed by the gas mileage, as well as by its ability to deliver power when needed.

Observed: 16.0 mpg

Distance Driven: 98 miles

Audio

7.2

 

The premium audio system comes standard on the TRD Pro trim, and it's decent. It doesn't quite seem like a truly premium audio system, so perhaps the dated cabin doesn't provide for a great sound experience of room for top-notch speakers. You don't have to pay more for a system that's good but not great. It was clear but lacked bass and fullness.



Final Thoughts

The Tacoma's reputation no longer feels justified, and it's still painfully resting on its laurels. The driving experience on road is poor, the ergonomics are rough, and the seating position warrants it as one of the worst cabins to spend time in. If the merits of reliability and off-road capability are enough for you, then the Tacoma TRD Pro will suit you just fine. If you need more, look elsewhere.
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