Tacoma TRD Sport vs TRD off-road, what are the differences


Toyota Tacoma TRD models are all easily identified by the large TRD decals on the bed. Some say “Sport” in the rear, and others say “Off-Road.” They look a lot alike, but why does the Off-Road cost $1,300 more?

Both trucks seem tougher than non-TRD trucks like the SR or SR5, mainly due to their lift and off-road tires. For Tacoma trucks, the SR is the base trim and the SR5 is a mid-level trim with more options available on top-selling trucks. The Sport version is a step up financially, and the Off-Road is one step further. The Limited and TRD Pro are even more expensive.

What does TRD mean on Toyota trucks?

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

TRD, or Toyota Racing Development, was originally created to build racing Toyotas. While TRD builds race cars, it’s now more of a trim level that can be ordered on everything from an Avalon sedan to a seven-passenger Sequoia SUV.

For the Tacoma TRD trucks, they get different shocks and lift, at least compared to the SR. They also have access to many options. You can order a panoramic camera that gives you a 360-degree view of the truck, as well as power seats, hill start control, and more.

The TRD Pro version of the trucks got upgraded Fox-brand shocks, a bit more clearance, and different aluminum skid plates. The Pro, however, only comes with a five-foot bed.

What’s the same in TRD trucks?

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Either truck can be ordered as an access cab (two doors) with a six foot bed, a double cab (four doors) with a five foot bed or a double cab with a six feet. TRD trucks only come with the 278 horsepower V6. This engine will probably be improved in 2023.

Either can be ordered as a four-wheel-drive or two-wheel-drive, but a two-wheel-drive off-roader is a rare truck. With four-wheel drive, the trucks get 18 miles per gallon in the city or 19 with two-wheel drive.

Either Off-Road’s Tacoma TRD Sport will do traditionalists proud: you can still order TRD trucks with a six-speed manual. Although the trucks have nice interiors, they are far from luxurious.

Tacoma TRD Sport is more road-focused

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport can certainly do off-road, but it's tuned for better on-road handling.

The Tacoma TRD Sport is easily identified by the giant air scoop on the hood. It’s a styling cue Toyota borrowed from 1960s American muscle cars, and it says “sporty” even if it’s not functional. But the Sport also has a sport-tuned suspension. The sport-tuned suspension is, well, sporty. It’s stiffer and tuned more for street riding.

The Sport also got a body-colored front bumper, as well as body-colored fender flares. The Sport starts at $34,335.

Tacoma TRD Off-Road is built for what it says

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road climbing rocks in remote and mountainous terrain.
Toyota Tacoma 2021 | Toyota United States

The big differences are in the options. On the TRD Off-Road, you can get Multi-Terrain Select with Crawl Control. Multi-Terrain Select does exactly what it says and lets you select mud, sand, loose rock, rock, dirt or bump modes. It also offers Crawl Control which will help the truck get unstuck even in deep sand.

The off-road starts at $35,590, but you get a lot more off-road capability than you get with the Tacoma TRD Sport.

The Off-Road has differently tuned Bilstein shocks that let it weave over rocks better than the Sport. The big upgrade, however, is the locking rear differential that the off-roader has as standard.

Off-Road has a matte black front bumper and matte black fender flares. Off-roaders prefer matte black because it doesn’t show the scratches you’ll inevitably get when you’re in dirt or forest. It also comes with skid plates to protect the engine and suspension.

The TRD Off-Road can be ordered with a six-foot bed, making it the choice of many who use their trucks for work and play, or for those who want to make a epic land vehicle.

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