2017 Toyota Tacoma gets a baby Raptor, the off-road rampaging TRD Pro

Last Update September 20th, 2016

2017 Toyota Tacoma

2017 Toyota Tacoma

What changes make the 2017 Toyota Tacoma different?

A new trim level aimed at hardcore off-road enthusiasts. This compact pickup is already highly capable when traversing parts unknown, but the 2017 TRD Pro model takes it a few steps further. (More on this creation from Toyota Racing Development below.)

The balance of the Tacoma lineup sees minor feature shuffling. This is the sophomore season for a truck re-engineered for model-year 2016. It got updated styling, introduced a new V-6 engine, and added upgraded features. Tacoma has been the top selling compact pickup truck for more than a decade. It outpaces its nearest competitors, the Chevrolet Colorado and Nissan Frontier, by nearly 2-1. Tacoma strengths include a loyal owner base, gold-standard resale values, and that tough, off-road image. Still, Toyota can’t rest easy. A redesigned Frontier is expected for model-year 2017, and Ford reportedly is preparing to re-enter the compact-truck fray with a re-launch of the venerable Ranger.

Why should I buy a 2017?

To be among the first to get your tow hooks into the new TRD Pro. It’s a more extreme version of the existing TRD Off-road model and joins TRD Pro versions of Toyota’s full-size Tundra pickup and midsize 4Runner SUV. Specific styling, a high-riding suspension, and other heavy-duty hardware set it up for take-no-prisoners off-road duty. Also included is a driver-engaged terrain selector that adjusts powertrain calibrations to suit snow, sand, mud, rock and other conditions. Available is Toyota’s Crawl Control, a low-speed cruise-control system that automatically regulates vehicle speed to maintain stability and traction in challenging off-road environments.

Model-year 2017 updates for the rest of the Tacoma line are centered on the popular SR5 model. An Appearance Package that includes alloy wheels and additional body-color trim is newly standard on the V-6 SR5 and optional on the four-cylinder SR5. Rear-obstacle detection and an in-dash navigation system are no longer offered on the four-cylinder SR5, but remains optional for the V-6.

The full ’17 model lineup consists of the base SR, volume-leading SR5, street-themed TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, luxury-oriented Limited, and new flagship TRD Pro. The Limited and TRD Pro come only as the crew-cab Double Cab with four full-size doors and a 5-foot cargo bed. Other Tacomas are available as the extended-cab Access Cab with 6-foot bed and as a Double Cab with a 5- or 6-foot bed.

Check Out Our 2018 Toyota Tacoma Preview for the Latest Info

Should I wait for the 2018 model instead?

Probably not. Though its appearance didn’t change drastically, Tacoma was heavily revised for model-year 2016, and pickup lifecycles tend to be much longer than those of cars and crossovers. The prior-generation Tacoma ran 2004-2015 with only minor updates. So changes in minor trim details are about all we’d expect for the ’18 Tacoma…along with higher prices.

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Is the 2017 styling different?

Yes, by virtue of the TRD Pro’s unique touches. It stands out with chunky, Kevlar-reinforced all-terrain tires; quarter-inch-thick aluminum underbody skid plates; LED fog lights; and a grille insert that spells out “TOYOTA” rather than simply housing the brand’s logo. As in all Tacoma models, a GoPro-camera mount is located on the windshield for those who like to document their exploits.

The other Tacomas are unchanged from 2016. Every version of this truck has a high beltline and squared-off roof that contribute to a slightly claustrophobic cabin, especially compared with that of the Colorado or especially the redesigned-for-2017 Honda Ridgeline. Front-seat occupants get adequate legroom. Taller folks will find headroom is cramped under the housing of the available sunroof. The rear seating area in the Access Cab is sufficient only for very small children or cargo storage. The Double Cab has about the same space as a compact car; adults fit but only comfortably for short trips.

Any mechanical changes?

Yes, with a focus on the TRD Pro. It’s host of dedicated off-road hardware differentiates it from other Tacomas, and indeed from every other compact pickup. The heavy-duty shock absorbers are sourced from Motorcross motorcycle tuner Fox. Dedicated coolers for the engine oil, power steering system, and transmission keep temperatures down when the going gets tough. Standard sway control will keep a towed trailer steady behind the truck. We mentioned CRAWL control and the terrain selector above. The TRD Pro comes standard with 4-wheel drive (4WD), which is an option on most other Tacomas. The system is a part-time setup that has low-range gearing for off-road use but should not be left engaged on dry pavement.

The overwhelming majority of Tacoma buyers will choose the available V-6 engine. It’s a 3.5-liter with 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. This engine provides plenty of power and is much smoother than the previous generation Tacoma’s V-6.

Some versions of the SR and SR5 use a 2.7-liter four-cylinder with 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. It’s available with a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. Even if you’re on a budget, we’d strongly recommend the V-6. In addition to being far more powerful, and you’ll need to work the four so hard it may well return worse gas mileage than the six.

Does fuel economy improve?

No. EPA ratings stand. All rear-wheel-drive Tacomas have automatic transmission and rate 19/23/21 mpg city/highway/combined with the four-cylinder engine and 19/24/21 with the V-6. Four-wheel-drive versions with the four-cylinder engine rate 19/21/20 mpg city/highway/combined with manual transmission and 19/22/20 with automatic.

Four-wheel drive Tacomas with the V-6 and automatic transmission rate 18/23/20 mpg.

With manual transmission, 4WD, and the V-6, Access Cabs rate 17/21/18 mpg and double Cabs 17/20/18.

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Does it have new features?

The Appearance Package on the SR5 and power-sliding rear window on the Double Cab TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, and Limited are the extent of newly standard features on the mainstream Tacoma line. All models include a rearview camera and Toyota’s Entune Audio infotainment system. The SR5 adds remote entry and an upgraded infotainment system with support for in-dash navigation via a connected smartphone with a special GPS mapping application. TRD Sport and TRD Off Road have a built-in navigation system that doesn’t require cellular service to work, pushbutton engine start on models with the automatic transmission, and LED daytime running lights. A power sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, JBL-brand audio system, leather upholstery, and heated front seats are standard on the Limited.

Blind-spot with rear cross-traffic alert and rear-obstacle detection are standard on the Limited and TRD Pro and available on the TRD Sport and TRD Off Road. Tacoma is unavailable with any other collision-avoidance technologies, but it still manages to earn the top “Good” rating for crashworthiness from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives Tacoma an overall crash rating of four stars out of five.

Are 2017 prices different?

Yes – they’re higher by about $500-$700 across the board. All total, there are 31 combinations of drivetrain (engine, transmission, and rear-wheel drive/4WD), cab/bed length, and trim level. Note that starting prices listed here include a $940 destination fee.

The SR line ranges from $25,060-$30,675; the volume-leading SR5 goes from $27,145-$34,205; the TRD Sport spans $31,425-$34,015; the TRD Off Road runs $32,680-$34,015; the Limited lists for $36,660-$39,735; and at the top of the heap is the TRD Pro, which will set you back $41,700-$43,700.

SR models are essentially work trucks with fairly Spartan equipment. Cruise control and keyless entry are a $480 option. Businesses on a budget can opt for the Utility Package, which removes the rear seating area for a $1,715 credit.

SR5 offers in-dash navigation and rear-obstacle detection for $775. TRD Sport and TRD Off Road have a $2,360 Premium & Technology Package, which includes a power sunroof, automatic headlights, heated front seats, blind-spot with rear cross-traffic alert, and rear-obstacle detection. Another version of this package adds the Limited’s JBL-brand audio system and costs $3,065. All models but the TRD Pro are available with a Towing Package and folding hard tonneau cover for $650 each.

When will it come out?

The 2017 Toyota Tacoma went on sale in September 2016.

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The Tacoma is better than the…

…anything in the class and lots of vehicles out of this segment when it comes to off-road ability; and Nissan Frontier, a truck whose decade-old basic engineering really shows with its buckboard ride and sloppy handling

The Tacoma is not as good as the…

Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which ride better and can be ordered with a turbodiesel four-cylinder that delivers 369 pound-feet of torque; Honda Ridgeline, which eschews a macho-tough image for room, comfort, and driving dynamics comparable to that of a Honda Pilot crossover fitted with a pickup bed.

What change would make it better?

An airier cabin and slightly softer ride quality on pavement would be top our list.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]