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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 over $1,000 more?

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

A dark metallic 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road is parked in left front profile view on dirt with rocky hills in the background
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road | Toyota

What does TRD stand for on Toyota trucks?

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

Tacoma TRD trucks get different shocks and a lift compared to the base SR trim. 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. However, the Tacoma TRD Pro 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. Tacoma TRD trucks only come with the 278-hp V6. However, much will likely change with Tacoma’s imminent 2024 model year redesign.

Either can be ordered as a four-wheel-drive or two-wheel-drive, but a two-wheel-drive TRD Off-Road is a rare truck. With the 4WD, this Tacoma version gets 18 mpg in the city or 19 mpg 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. Additionally, the trucks have nice interiors but are far from luxurious.

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport is more road-focused

blue 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport parked on a tree-lined dirt road
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport | Toyota

The Toyota 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. Still, the TRD Sport also has a sport-tuned suspension, which is more stiffly sprung and tuned for street driving. It also has a body-color bumper on the front and body-color fender flares for added flair.

The Tacoma TRD Off-Road is designed for exactly what it says

The big differences are in the options. On the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road model, you can get the Multi-Terrain Select with Crawl Control. Multi-Terrain Select does precisely 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 unstuck, even in deep sand.

The Tacoma TRD Off-Road starts over a grand more, but you get much more capability for off-roading than with the TRD Sport.

The TRD Off-Road has differently-tuned Bilstein shocks that let it bound over rocks better than the TRD Sport. The significant upgrade is the locking rear differential that the model has standard.  

The TRD Off-Road truck has a matte black front bumper and matte black fender flares. This is because many off-roaders prefer matte black. After all, it doesn’t show the scratches you will inevitably get 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.