When we look at the 2024 Toyota Tacoma design, its body lines protrude and provide significant profiling and vehicle styling. Where does that design language and character visualization come from? Well, like most Toyota vehicles, it comes from the folks at Calty Design Research, Toyota’s famous design studio established in the early 1970s to help create automobiles more appealing to the American market. So where did the designers of the new 2024 Toyota Tacoma, which won the 2023 SEMA Best Midsize Truck of the Year award, draw inspiration from? We only have to look back to the 1990s and the heyday of Toyota’s involvement with off-road racing.
Toyota Tacoma Heritage
What we know about the Toyota Tacoma is that it is a reliable little truck that can do it all very well. A multi-purpose, swill army knife. The defensive lineman who moonlights as an Olympic pole vaulter. It’s the professional wrestler who can paint a landscape on a grain of rice. It’s the compact pickup that became a 326 horsepower, 465 lb-ft, go anywhere, crawl over anything, do it all, respected truck.
Introduced to the market in 1995, the Tacoma was the small truck thrown in with the already inflated domestic trucks. While the Tacoma at its’ largest was barely 200 inches long, the Silverado of the same year was nearly 40 inches longer. Even Toyota’s full-size truck at the time, the T100 was only 10 inches longer than the Tacoma. Well under what US buyers were expecting at the time. By all accounts, and by US standards, the Tacoma was a mini truck. But despite the size, or perhaps because of it, the Tacoma quickly found a following and forged a legacy. Now, the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, with no small thanks to the TRD development team, a successful motorsports campaign, and perhaps a little thanks to an arcade game, the truck’s legacy has become legendary.
2024 Toyota Tacoma Design Inspired By Off-Road Racing
For 2024, Toyota is throwing a ton of technology into a totally redesigned Tacoma platform. Perhaps the most interesting of which is the i-Force MAX hybrid engine. The Tacoma offers this hybrid system, which pairs an electric motor with a 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder and mates both to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The combination produces 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, and perhaps most impressive is that the max torque is at just 1,700 rpm. Outstanding numbers from a 4-cylinder engine in a compact truck, but it does cause one to salivate over the idea of an optional 3.5L twin turbo V-6 as found in the Tundra.
While a 6-speed manual transmission is also available on the Tacoma, the i-Force MAX 2.4L is standard in all trim levels. Typically, a manufacturer would offer several engine and transmission options for a truck to satisfy all the potential customer needs. However, the approach taken by Toyota on the i-Force MAX is that with the turbo hybrid system, the engine can be all things to all people. Where reliability, performance, comfort, and durability are concerned the suspension becomes a key component in what the customer wants and needs from their truck.
The Tacoma Trailhunter has purpose-built suspension and trim made for trail riding, rock crawling, and overlanding. Toyota’s Stabilizer Disconnect Mechanism (SDM), and Crawl Control are systems similar to those found on more trail-focused vehicles like the Jeep JL Wrangler Rubicon and Ford Bronco. Tacoma’s available multi-link rear suspension provides articulation, and 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires provide grip on uneven, rocky, and loose surfaces.
Topping it off, the Trailhunter gets the Old Man Emu treatment with forged monotube position-sensitive coilovers and rear remote-reservoir shocks. All the while ARB skid plates, sport bars, and bumpers protect the body panels and occupants from damage and a high-mount intake feeds fresh air to the engine during deep water crossings.
“It’s pretty gnarly out here” | Mark Healey & Andy Bell Drive the 2024 Tacoma Trailhunter
Tacoma TRD Pro
The Tacoma TRD Pro evokes the legendary career of off-road racer and arcade game namesake Ivan “Ironman” Stewart and simply reminds us that the i-Force MAX 2.4L Tacoma is fast. The TRD Pro is ready to dance with true off-road FOX QS3 adjustable internal bypass coilovers and rear remote-reservoir shocks providing 1-inch of front and 0.5-inch rear lift. With sophisticated FOX Shocks suspension, the TRD Pro is designed to sprint across desert landscapes.
High clearance ARB front and rear bumper with recovery hooks assume that the occasional high-speed leap is not to be discouraged. Of course, the TRD Pro can be ordered in colors other than white, but since every one of these trucks should get yellow, orange, and red stripes, white is the recommended factory color.
Tacoma TRD Off‑Road
The TRD Off‑Road equipped 2024 Tacoma is more capable than ever. Standard on this model comes Bilstein shocks with rear remote reservoirs and an electronically locking rear differential. Plus, trail-busting features like a multi-link rear suspension, Stabilizer Disconnect Mechanism (SDM), and Crawl Control are available to empower even more adventures.
Perhaps the only issue with the 2024 Toyota Tacoma lineup is that options do seem endless. Toyota has eight different packages; SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, Trailhunter, and TRD Pro.
Toyota has chosen not to ask their customer base if they want an off-road capable truck. Instead, they have taken 30 years of heritage and history and truly looked at what their customers have done on their own. They’ve seen the popularity of the Baja 1000 and Stadium Super Trucks and built the TRD Pro. They’ve seen the popularity of overlanding and an entire movement to connect with nature and they built the Trailhunter. Even though countless enthusiasts accessorize their trucks for things they’ll likely never do, like the Baja 1000, or camping in Moab, it is cool to know the vehicle is very capable of handling those adventures.