Going off-Road? Skip the 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

The virtuosos in the Toyota TRD workshop whip up some amazing vehicles, whether that’s the TRD Pro off-road trucks or 4Runners that can do some amazing things in the dirt. But they’re not just magicians at off-road tuning. In fact, they’ve also created the TRD Sport that, despite appearances and probably many buyers’ expectations, is designed for street use, not off-roading. But does that make it a better truck?

What is the 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport?

Tacoma TRD Sport
Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport | Toyota

The Tacoma TRD Sport actually has a suspension that is worse for off-roading, but better for driving on the street, than the regular SR5 Tacoma. The TRD Sport is basically an appearance package with a slightly different suspension that Toyota says is “sport tuned,” which means it’s a bit stiffer for street use. Sure, a squishy suspension is great when you’re trying to articulate the truck over a boulder, but it sucks when you try to change lanes at speed on the freeway. That’s TRD Sport’s sweet spot.

Fans of quicker acceleration will also appreciate the quicker differential ratio for the rear end. Again, that helps with the street-focused Sport’s mission of going quicker on pavement.

Any TRD model is an upgrade

Both TRD Tacomas, whether that’s the Off-Road or the Sport are an upgrade over the regular truck, for sure, but the two TRD versions of the Tacoma serve different roles. Weekend warriors love the TRD Off-Road because of its lift, its special shocks, locking rear differential, and its tougher underbody cladding.

But, for the rest of us who drive on the street mostly and play occasionally in the dirt, the Sport may actually be a better truck. It has the same utility, towing, and and eeven the same payload numbers. It does not have the fancy electronically locking rear differential of the Pro or Trail Special Edition, however.

Which TRD package is better on the 2023 Tacoma?

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2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Toyota

You can order the TRD Sport with several options packages that you can’t on other Toyotas. The TRD Premium Sport Package is the one to nab because it comes with the creature comforts that we all want, like heated seats and a better stereo with navigation. The Advanced Technology Package adds a panoramic view monitor, blind-spot indicators, and rear parking sonar.

There are two engine options, though there’s hardly a major difference between the two. One is a 3.5 liter V6 with 278 horsepower. The other is a 3.5-liter V6 with 278 horsepower that adds variable valve timing.  Compared to the SR5, you also get LED headlights and fog lights with black bezels.

Is the SR5 or the TRD Sport better for off-road fun?

The 2022 Toyota Tacoma sits in front of a house as a mid-size truck.
2022 Toyota Tacoma SR5 | Toyota

Both the TRD Sport and the SR5 versions are quite capable off-road trucks that can handle a surprising amount of abuse well. The Sport has bigger wheels and tires with a smaller sidewall, which means the (relatively low) danger of pinching a tire is increased. Compared to the SR5, it has the same approach and departure angles as the SR5. However, the Sport does have more clearance and a better breakover angle, at 24 degrees compared to 21.

However, you can still order the SR5 and the Sport with a manual, according to Motor Trend.

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