Words and photos by Grant Yoxon
Equipped with the ‘TRD’ off-road package, the 2002 Toyota Tacoma Xtracab V6 receives a step-side bed and colour-keyed fender flares, bumpers, door handles and grille surround, some practical items for people who really do take their truck off the beaten path, and comfort and convenience features that ensure no matter where you take your truck you will go in comfort.
Tough, Refined and Diverse
In high performance circles, ‘TRD’ means Toyota Racing Development, the subsidiary of Toyota Motor Sales responsible for designing and building Toyota racing engines, like those used in CART, Off-Road, Pikes Peak, Toyota Atlantic and NASCAR Dash series. TRD also designs special edition performance vehicles, and markets performance parts and accessories for everyday Toyota drivers.
For the Tacoma, ‘TRD’ means a $2795 off-road option package that adds a step-side bed and colour-keyed fender flares, bumpers, door handles and grille surround, some practical items for people who really do take their truck off the beaten path, and comfort and convenience features that ensure no matter where you take your truck you will go in comfort.
If I didn’t know ‘TRD’ stood for Toyota Racing Development, I would have thought it meant “Tough, Refined and Diverse.”
The Toyota Tacoma Extended Cab V-6 ‘TRD’ has everything a weekend off-roader needs in a compact truck – at least 10 inches of ground clearance, one-touch four-wheel-drive, Hi and Lo ranges, and a locking rear differential for when the going gets really tough.
Standard on Tacoma is Toyota’s “4WheelDemand” automatic disconnecting differential. With the TRD off-road package shifting from two-wheel drive to four-wheel is as easy as pressing a button on the transfer case lever, which remains in the “Hi” position unless conditions call for the added grunt of four-wheel low.
Engaging the locking rear differential is just as easy. When the vehicle is stopped, you simply press a dash-mounted button. The locking rear differential aids low-speed, off-highway maneuvering. When engaged, the locking rear differential evenly splits torque between both rear wheels, forcing them to turn in unison for extra traction.
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With the off-road package, the Tacoma has four-wheel-drive for all occasions – whether traversing rocky streams and muddy fields, hauling your bass boat up a slippery boat launch or, as in our case, negotiating snow clogged back streets and country roads.
Our TRD tester was equipped with 16 inch alloy wheels shod with B.F. Goodrich Rugged Trail T/As. In reality, these tires performed better on dry pavement than in deep snow, where they quickly became clogged. Serious off-roaders may want to consider purchasing a designated set of off-road tires.
All Toyota Tacomas ride on the same suspension, with a double wishbone and coil springs in front, and a rigid multi-leaf spring assembly in the rear. The TRD off-road package adds “off-road suspension tuning” – Bilstein shock absorbers at all four corners, progressive-rate front coil springs, modified rear leaf springs, a larger stabilizer bar, P265/70 R16 BF Goodrich tires on five-spoke aluminum wheels, fender flares and TRD graphics.
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While the Bilsteins and BF Goodrich tires are intended to improve the Tacoma’s off-road ability, they also help give the truck surprisingly good road manners. The Tacoma’s suspension displays less bounce and bobble than many other competing trucks and SUVs, including it’s SUV sibling, the 4Runner. Car-like cornering ability was only inhibited by somewhat dull-feeling steering. It also feels solid, with very little drive line slack. For a truck, the Tacoma has a truly refined ride.
The 3.4 litre V6 produces 190 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and plenty of low-end torque – 220 lb.-ft. at 3,600 rpm. Coupled with the smooth shifting four-speed overdrive automatic transmission – as was our tester – the Tacoma takes off well and hums along at a fuel conserving 2000 rpm at 100 km/h.
If you spend five days out of seven commuting to the office in the city, this Tacoma will make life in the fast lane a lot easier to endure. A smooth running V6, compliant suspension, supportive sport seats, air conditioning, cruise control, and 6-speaker, AM/FM Cassette CD, equip the Tacoma TRD well for the daily commute.
Standard equipment on the Tacoma Xtracab V6 includes bucket seats, rear jump seats with fold down cushions, AM/FM Cassette CD with 6-speakers, tilt steering, tilt out rear quarter windows and sliding rear window.
The TRD Off-Road Package adds air conditioning, front sport seats with power lumbar adjustment, power windows with driver side auto down, privacy glass, cruise control, moon roof, power remote control mirrors, power door locks and mirrors.
The moon roof is of the pop-up variety with a clip-in interior cover that must be removed and stored. It’s a hassle to re-install and will likely wind up permanently stowed behind the seats. Missing is a mist feature on the windshield wipers and, needed for this climate, heated outside mirrors. The presence of a power lumbar support on the manual sport seats seems odd, particularly when important features like heated mirrors and windshield wiper sweep are not available.
The rear seating in the Tacoma Extended Cab is little better than a place to keep your groceries dry. If you really need seating for more than two, take a look at the Tacoma Double Cab V6. But the Xtracab layout does offer increased interior storage room with the flip up rear seats and under seat storage compartments and additional seating when needed. Other interior storage includes door map pockets and two level bin under the armrest. Dual front cup holders between the seats are slotted to accommodate cup handles, a neat feature.
The layout of the instrument panel seems a bit dated, although the black on white gauges are attractive. The digital clock is oddly placed, obscured by the steering wheel. The more frequently used radio controls are placed below the heating and air conditioning controls and two large air vents in the centre stack. But large audio control buttons compensate for the subordinate positioning of the radio.
Despite these shortcomings, the quality of materials used throughout the Tacoma is impressive. Like the strong feel of the drive train and overall excellent build quality, the interior finishing of the Tacoma feels durable and refined.
All Tacomas are equipped with dual Supplemental Restraint System airbags (SRS). A passenger-side cut-off switch is included on all models except the Double Cab. Additional safety features include front seat belt pretensioners and force limiters, three-point seat belts in all outboard positions, side door impact beams and an energy absorbing steering wheel and column. Tether anchor brackets are provided to supplement child restraint systems.
Off-road, on the highway or around town, the Toyota Tacoma TRD is a truck for all your needs. It is a lot to ask for a vehicle to be both on road driveable and off-road capable, but the Tacoma TRD accommodates both roles with ease.
And with a payload of 748 kg (1649 lbs) and a towing capacity of 2,268 kg (5000 lbs), the Tacoma ‘TRD’ is ideal for pulling your boat, snowmobile or four-wheeler and a weekend’s worth of gear. Tradesmen will find the Tacoma TRD has the right stuff to carry all the tools through the muddiest job site.
Toyota Tacomas are available in both Xtracab and Double Cab versions. A 4X2 Xtracab model with 2.4 litre four cylinder (142 hp @ 5000 rpm/160 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm) and manual transmission has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $21,920. Other models in the Tacoma line include:
- 2.4 litre 4X4 Xtracab ($27,335),
- 4X4 Xtracab V6 manual ($30,780), with value package ($31,405), with off-road package ($33,575). Add $1000 for automatic transmission.
- 2.4 litre PreRunner 4X2 Xtracab, automatic transmission ($23,795)
- PreRunner 4X2 Xtracab V6, automatic transmission ($29,085)
- 4X4 Double Cab V6, automatic transmission ($33,385), with value package ($34,375), with off-road package ($36,805), and
- PreRunner 4X2 Double Cab V6, automatic transmission ($30,775).
|Base price||$30,780 (4X4 Xtracab V6 manual trans)|
|TRD package||$34,575 (Off-Road package, automatic trans)|
|Options on vehicle||bedliner ($415), security system ($706)|
|Price as tested||$36,941|
|Type||2-door, extended cab, compact pick-up truck|
|Layout||longitudinal front engine, 4WD|
|Engine||3.4 litre V6, DOHC, 24-valve|
|Horsepower||190 @ 4,800 rpm|
|Torque||220 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm|
|Transmission||4-speed automatic (5-speed manual standard)|
|Tires||P265/70 R16 BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/As|
|Curb weight||1,606 kg (3,540 lbs)|
|Wheelbase||3,095 mm (121.8 in.)|
|Length||5,135 mm (202.1 in.)|
|Width||1,690 mm (66.5 in.)|
|Height||1,720 mm (67.7 in.)|
|Bed length||1,892 mm (74.5 in.)|
|Payload||748 kg (1649 lbs)|
|Towing capacity||2,268 kg (5000 lbs)|
|Fuel consumption (city/highway)||14.4/11.5 litres/100 km (20/25 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 years/60,000 km|
|Powertrain warranty||5 years/ 100,000 km|