2011 Toyota Tacoma TX Pro
Images by the Expedition Portal Team
Test Team: Joe Bacal and Scott Brady
It is difficult to describe how -57 degrees feels, the extreme cold of the arctic winter damaging my lungs with each successive breath. Our team had made camp at the Arctic Circle after successfully reaching the frozen Arctic Ocean via hundreds of miles of ice road. There was no power available so the truck sat through the night without an engine heater, its battery and oil slowly forming a solid mass. Quite literally, our lives depended on the vehicle we were driving – that vehicle was a Toyota Tacoma.
The Toyota Tacoma is the North American version of the famed Hilux, which has served farmer, family and fighters around the world for nearly four decades. The Tacoma is designed for the US consumer and built within our borders. This US model brings some welcome refinements but keeps the diesel motors and metric ton units outside of our grasp. The Tacoma is a serious truck designed to offer class-leading reliability and in the TRD/TX Pro variant, class-leading 4wd performance.
Given that I had driven Tacomas and Hiluxes on five continents, I was particularly interested in the evolution of the generation two Tacoma and how Toyota had addressed the deficiencies of the 1996-2004 units while hopefully improving road performance and driver comfort. With this being the first review in the new Expedition Portal comprehensive testing lineup, it seemed appropriate that the Tacoma would be the opening act.
The arrival of the 2011 Tacoma 4wd TX Pro marks the pinnacle of evolution for the generation two Tacoma. No doubt the 2014 Tacoma will be an all-new unit, so further refinement or enhancement of the Gen2 is unlikely. This makes the TX Pro notable and caught the attention of our test team. Toyota essentially took the TRD Tacoma and added a few performance enhancements and a few purely cosmetic changes. Being most interested in the performance improvements, we found that the TX Pro package provides little 4wd advantage over the TRD, but does include a stainless steel exhaust, fake bead locks and a few stickers – more on that later. However, the bones of this truck are the 'real deal' and include a rear, driver-selectable locking differential and driver-selectable traction control (A-TRAC). This is also our first time testing the Access Cab configuration with a six-foot bed.
1. Legendary Toyota reliability and durability
2. Driver-selectable rear locking differential and A-TRAC
3. 1,200lb Payload
4. TX Pro Package which includes cast wheels and stainless steel performance exhaust
The Toyota Tacoma TX Pro compares with the Nissan Frontier NISMO (also available as a rebadged Suzuki) and little else. In recent years the Nissan has become a legitimate competitor with the Tacoma, offering nearly 30 more HP and rear disc brakes.
Chevrolet also carries a mid-sized truck, the Colorado, which over the past 12 months has been upgraded with new hardware – primary of which is the 5.3L V8 engine and available Z71 package. With the death of HUMMER, GM seems to be paying attention to the 4wd performance of their trucks again, which makes this a somewhat unproven, but interesting option to consider. Offerings from both Ford and Dodge are legacy products in their last year of production, and have seen little refinement or innovation in the last decade.
This review is technical to a fault and intended for consumers that desire maximum detail and critical evaluation. All pros and cons are laid to bare, with nothing spared the pen. This review also favors performance over cup holders, so it will serve the enthusiast better than the commuter. Additional information about the reviewers, criteria and results is located in the evaluator’s notes on the conclusion page of this document.
1,112 miles over 42 days with the Access Cab. 640 miles over 33 days with the Double Cab. 880 miles over 64 days with a 2005 Double Cab (modified by ARB).
2010 Toyota Tacoma Double-Cab Test Vehicle
2005 Tacoma: ARB test vehicle with Old Man Emu suspension, bull bar and Demello rock sliders