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The 2021 Toyota TRD Lineup Varies in Capability

You might have seen the letters TRD tacked on to the end of some Toyota models. These performance-enhanced editions stand apart from the rest of the Japanese automaker’s lineup. 

But are all of them worth the money, and which Toyota TRD should you put on your wish list? Let’s take a deeper dive into these exciting models.

What does TRD stand for?

A 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road traveling on a dirt pathway
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road in action | Toyota

The name sounds intriguing, but what does it actually mean? The acronym stands for ‘Toyota Racing Development.’ And no, these vehicles aren’t beholden to motorsports like NASCAR. 

Toyota offers performance-tuned TRD trim levels on many models throughout its lineup. So, you can buy a TRD for yourself, and it won’t be all that expensive.

Which Toyota models have TRD trim levels?

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Toyota currently offers TRD variants of seven different vehicles for the 2021 model year. 

TRD Pro models consist of SUVs and trucks that are enhanced to dominate off-road driving. You’ll find rugged iterations of the 4Runner midsize SUV, Sequoia three-row SUV, Tacoma midsize truck, and Tundra full-size truck. These models are packed with off-road performance equipment.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 compact SUV stands apart from the rest of the group with a TRD Off-Road trim. It features added ground clearance, skid plates, a TRD-tuned suspension, an all-wheel-drive system, and more.

Toyota also created TRD versions of two of its cars – the Camry midsize sedan and the Avalon large sedan. 

Notably, the manufacturer also offers the 2021 Toyota Tacoma and the 2021 Toyota 4Runner in the TRD Off-Road trim. Plus, the Tacoma and Sequoia also feature a relatively affordable TRD Sport model with a sport-tuned suspension rather than off-road equipment.

Which Toyota TRD model delivers the most capability?

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This category is relative to your preferred driving experience. Those who plan on taking their vehicle to its limit on off-road terrain will experience the greatest results from 

The Fast Lane Truck YouTube page pitted the 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro against the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. It found that while the Tacoma TRD Pro was a somewhat rougher ride, it benefited from more agile handling during off-road driving.

Of course, the Tacoma TRD Pro delivers substantially less towing capability than its counterpart since it’s a midsize pickup. It maxes out at 6,400 pounds, while the full-size Tundra TRD Pro achieves between 9,200-9,900 pounds depending on its configuration.

But considering the $4,000+ price difference between the trucks, the Tundra TRD Pro isn’t worth the money if you don’t need the hauling power.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro performs similarly to the 2021 Tacoma TRD Pro. It’s somewhat agile, allowing you to maneuver over challenging terrain. However, the 4Runner can’t deliver hulkish performance equivalent to that of the 2021 Tundra TRD Pro.

How do the Sequoia RAV4, Carmy, and Avalon stack up?

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These models just don’t live up to the TRD’s performance standards. For example, the 2021 Toyota Sequoia TRD models add a little extra ruggedness, but it’s ultimately a family SUV. It offers the advantage of comfortable third-row seats, as opposed to the 4Runner’s pointless rear bench. However, it’ll never match the 4Runner TRD Pro’s off-road capabilities.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is like the baby brother of the SUV lineup, as it doesn’t impress with large statistics. Although it can handle dirt roads and some uneven terrain, you won’t want to get too crazy.

The Avalon TRD and Camry TRD aren’t off-roaders. Instead, these are just sportier variants of the regular cars. Unfortunately, Toyota didn’t give either model a significant performance boost, as the V6 engine in each vehicle is also available in other trims.

The final verdict: Toyota’s TRD line is a mixed bag

A white 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road
A 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road driving on a dirt road | Toyota

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Ultimately, you’re going to want to opt for either the Tacoma, Tundra, or 4Runner if you desire an ultra-capable TRD vehicle.

The 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro be your best bet, as it has a stellar off-road reputation, and it has the versatility of a capable truck. However, we wouldn’t blame you for opting for a more spacious 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro instead.