Tacoma TRD Sport vs. TRD off-Road, What Are the Differences

The Toyota Tacoma TRD models are all easily spotted by the big TRD decals on the bed. Some say “Sport” on the back, and others say “Off-Road.” They look very similar, but why is the Off-Road $1,300 more?

Both of the trucks look tougher than non-TRD trucks like the SR or SR5, mainly because of their lift and off-road tires. For Tacoma trucks, the SR is the base version and the SR5 is a mid-level trim with more available options on the best-selling trucks. The Sport trim is one financial step up, and the Off-Road is one more notch still. The Limited and TRD Pro are more expensive yet.

What does TRD stand for on Toyota trucks?

Toyota TRD takes regular Toyotas and
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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

For the Tacoma TRD trucks, they get different shocks and a lift, at least compared to the SR. They also get access to a lot of 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 has upgraded Fox brand shocks, slightly more clearance, and different aluminum skid plates. The Pro, however, only comes with a five-foot bed.

What’s the same in the TRD trucks?

Either truck can be ordered as an Access Cab (two-door) with a six-foot bed, a Double Cab (four-door) with a five-foot bed, or a Double Cab with a six-foot bed. TRD trucks only come with the 278-horsepower V6. That engine will likely be improved in 2023.

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

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

Tacoma TRD Sport is more road-focused

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

The Tacoma TRD Sport is easily identified by the giant hood scoop. It’s a styling element that Toyota borrowed from American muscle cars of the 1960s, 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 more stiffly sprung and tuned more for driving on the street.

The Sport also has a body-color bumper on the front, as well as body-color fender flares. The Sport starts at $34,335.

Tacoma TRD Off-Road is designed for what it says

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

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

The Off-Road starts at $35,590, but you get a lot more capability for off-roading than you do with the Tacoma TRD Sport.

The Off-Road has differently tuned Bilstein shocks that let it bound over rocks better than the Sport. The big upgrade, though, is the locking rear differential that the Off-Road has 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 that you will inevitably get when you’re in the dirt or the forest. It also comes with skid plates to protect the motor and suspension.

The TRD Off-Road can be ordered with a six-foot-bed which makes it the choice of many who use their trucks for work as well as play, or for those who want to make an epic overlanding vehicle.

RELATED: Will the Toyota Tacoma EV Be the Best Electric Pickup Truck?