What do you do when you want to figure out what is truly the best off-road companion? Take a few trucks out to the Mojave Desert and put them through their paces, of course! That’s what Motor Trend did with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, and the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. All three of these trucks are powerful, durable, and have plenty of off-road features to make them serious competitors to each other.
The Tacoma TRD Pro is one of Toyota’s most off-road capable trucks on the market. Like the others in this test, it has a V6 engine getting 278 horsepower, Fox Racing Shocks, and a 1-inch suspension, all great features for a little desert adventure. But how did it compare to the others?
How the Tacoma TRD Pro’s features measure up to the competition
All three trucks that Motor Trend tested are pretty comparable to each other. They all have a V6 engine that gets similar horsepower, although the TRD Pro gets slightly less than the other two. They all have automatic transmissions and four-wheel drive. Each has its own additions that make it more off-road capable than other model in their lineup, making them great competitors to each other.
The Tacoma TRD Pro is equipped with Fox Racing Shocks that make it ride smoother than other Tacomas over rocky and difficult terrain. It also has a “Desert Air Intake,” which raises the engine’s air intake, making it ideal for desert adventures. The Colorado ZR2 Bison has Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers that give the truck more versatility in how it performs over different types of terrain. The Gladiator Rubicon is fitted with an anti-roll bar, perfect for low-speed rock crawling.
The Tacoma needs a little more to make it as exciting as the rest
All of these features make these trucks great at what they do, but the Tacoma ultimately needed a few other things to put it on top. One of the biggest disappointments when comparing to the other trucks being tested was the small cabin size. When you’re out in the desert, truck packed full of gear and supplies, you need plenty of storage space plus room for people to sit. The TRD Pro has storage under the seats, but the way the seats fold forward to access the storage compartments isn’t ideal and you can’t fit as much because of it, leading to less room for people in the cabin.
When the testers took the trucks through a low river, the Tacoma performed the worst. Its traction control cut power, causing the truck’s engine to work extra hard, and causing the driver to lose speed. While driving through a river isn’t something you’re likely to do too often, it’s still something you may need to keep in mind if you find unexpectedly yourself in tough muddy conditions.
A known issue with Tacomas is brake dive. They tend to lurch forward and backward when you shift out of park and when you slow down to stop. While a known issue, it’s still something that makes it take a back seat to its competitors.
Close, but no cigar
While the three trucks Motor Trend brought out to the desert to test are very comparable and similar to each other, they ultimately decided that the Tacoma TRD Pro ranked in last place. In second place was the Gladiator, leaving the Colorado as the winner. If Toyota can get their small kinks worked out, maybe the next iteration of the TRD Pro will be closer to its competitors. For now, though, it’s got a little ways to go.