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SR5 is an old Toyota badge, dating back to 1973. You might be surprised to hear it first appeared on the Corolla before becoming common on Toyota trucks. But whatever the model, the SR5 badge originally meant a sporty trim with a five-speed manual transmission upgrade. You can still buy a Toyota Tacoma SR5 in 2023. But in an ironic twist, you can’t order the Tacoma’s famed manual transmission option in a modern Tacoma SR5. An updated use of the classic badge could be a cool nod to Toyota history.

What does Toyota’s SR5 badge mean?

Toyota began slapping “SR” on the fender of the performance trim of various models in the 1970s. Depending on the market, this stood for “Sport Rally,” “Sports Runabout,” or “Sporty Ray.” When the automaker added a five-speed option across its lineup, it doubled down on this badge with the “SR5” designation.

White 4WD Toyota truck with tri-colored racing livery and an SR5 badge.
Toyota Pickup Truck Xtracab SR5 4×4 Hilux | Bring-A-Trailer copy

Wait, SR had multiple meanings? Yup, my colleague Peter Corn revealed that the original meaning of SR on Toyotas is up for debate. The global automaker probably stuck the badge on vehicles, and then local marketing teams interpreted it. So, in the U.S., you might have heard “Sport Rally,” while “Sports Runabout” was used in places where people actually use runabout to describe a type of car. “Sporty Ray” seemed to suggest the vehicle was fast as sunlight.

But for the mechanically-minded, Toyota might not have needed to interpret the badge at all. This is because “R” was the famed Toyota engine family of I4s that powered the Corolla and Toyota truck in the 1970s and 80s. So, “Sporty R” spoke for itself.

In the U.S., “SR” first appeared on the 1973 Corolla. It spread to the Toyota truck in 1979.

Is the 2023 Toyota Tacoma SR5 a good truck?

The SR5 is an entry-level trim of the 2023 Tacoma, one step above the”SR” work truck. It enjoys a touch of chrome, leather-trimmed seats, and remote door locks. You can order it with a V6 engine but not a manual transmission.

A 2023 Toyota Tacoma SR5 trim parked off-road, a campfire visible in the foreground.
2023 Toyota Tacoma SR5 | Toyota

The SR5 is a popular trim of the Toyota Tacoma because it offers a bit more style and comfort than the SR, but won’t break the bank like the opulent top-trim trucks. It is the first “named” trim level of the Tacoma as the SR doesn’t even wear “SR” badges.

But because the Tacoma SR5 gets its name from the old “Sport Rally five-speed” trucks, it is ironic that you can’t get it with the manual transmission. Both the I4 and V6 SR5s come with Toyota’s six-speed automatic transmission. The manual transmission was once the entry-level option, but now it has morphed into a premium Tacoma feature only available on upper trim levels.

Toyota, what about a Tacoma SR6?

So hear me out: I think the old “Sport Rally” and “Sport Rally 5” trims are wasted on the entry-level Tacomas. I know “badge inflation” happens, and Toyota has come out with many better-equipped trims since the days of the SR5. But it could still have a cool function in the modern Tacoma lineup.

The shifter in a 2023 Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup truck.
2023 Toyota Tacoma SR5 automatic transmission | Toyota

What if the automaker renamed its entry-level trims with any other pair of letters, then slapped an “SR6” badge on the fender of any Tacoma equipped with its six-speed manual transmission?

This badge could be similar to the “4×4” fender stickers that most pickup trucks wear when equipped with 4WD. These stickers make sense because 4WD is an expensive option that changes the truck’s capabilities and is something people like to brag about.

An “SR6” badge on a manual Tacoma–of any trim level–would call out that the owner had ordered a stickshift, which is often a point of pride. And it would do so in a way that would nod subtly to the rich history of Toyota trucks.

Next, find out the secret ingredients to Toyota’s legendary reliability or learn more about Toyota pickup trucks in the video below: