First Drive: 2012 Tacoma TRD T/X Baja

Posted on 07. Apr, 2012 by in Auto News

To start: This is not a Raptor fighter, but it does Toyota in the right direction. The goals were modest, and the budget, in fact, is Toyota the first to tell you, it does not want the new Tacoma T / X Baja Series package as the automaker version of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor can be confused was a bit smaller. Nevertheless, there is material here.

The guys at Toyota Racing Development have a stellar object, a unique suspension package that provides the Tacoma done much improved high speed capability over previous king-of-the-Hill Toyota TRD Off-Road Package. In fact, the new Bilstein shocks – to improve all-on-pavement performance and handling as well – designed to better handle extreme in the desert. But perhaps should not be surprising because Toyota (specifically, its TRD group) is a strong player in the off-road performance and truck segments for more than a few decades.

We took a short ride in the T / X Baja at last year's Texas Auto Writers Association event where Toyota introduced the Baja series and let's get behind the wheel. The short off-road course was not nearly fast and challenging enough for the Baja spread his wings, so we. Complaining Toyota a point often enough that the automaker finally threw us the keys for us to shut up

As a brief summary, the new suspension is an extreme TRD package, so the Tacoma better high-speed off-road capability. Much of this is achieved with much larger and better Bilstein shock absorbers. The front set a monster has designed 60-mm-thick rod originally for heavy campers, but TRD she agreed to absorb shocks and gradually recover quickly on the tires again. On the ground with the least impact

In addition to the great Bilstein shocks, the T / X Baja a new set of stiff front springs that give the Tacoma almost 2 inches added buoyancy, which appear to the truck a balanced and impressive.

In the back, the most important improvements. Also on the race better Bilstein shocks, with a 50-mm thick rod and horizontally-mounted remote reservoir Astute readers will notice that the remote reservoir vertically in the T / X Baja we drove assembled in Texas, but we were told that the new setup is less susceptible to damage. Interference by rock and other debris

The T / X Baja Series is striking 16-inch beadlock-style wheels that look similar to the rock warriors offered package on the Tundra with 265/70R16 BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. The latest additions include a side output TRD cat-back exhaust, and a number of slinging mud-graphics.

We spent the day in the T / X Baja raging motorcycle/4×4 a local park. Given the bill is not very long, it's amazing how well they work together, the Tacoma much better high-speed off-road performer. And we say that liked with how capable the existing TRD package was before.

We walked through several dry washes and valleys in the park found the front-end to perfectly set up to absorb some heavy ruts and berms. Several times we found ourselves stiffening our body – maybe even close our eyes – in anticipation of a concussion blow to the front-end. But it never happened.

Bit by bit through the dry river bed, cutting through fields and over rocks, then drive in and out of the deep sand ruts – all at 40 to 45 mph -. Baja was the comfortable and responsive The slightly larger attitude seemed to help our visibility as we kept sawing the wheel to the BFGS from getting into any of the major grooves hold (obviously of full-size trucks) pulled.

When from the dry laundry and back are more challenging trails, popular with motorcycles and jeeps, the Baja was a strong player. At this point we were very aware of the speed-sensitive this setup was. We found an old service road about 300 meters long. "Whoop-de-dos" with an endless series of For those who ride motorcycles, you know how these gouges over time form with hard riding and how much fun they can be when they attacked at the right speed. But for four-wheeled vehicles are torture, even a good suspension throw in a fierce pogo-like rhythm.

Normally we would this route in the 1st To navigate transition and roll up and over each wave. Not faster than that, and we would start off every face, grabbed some unpleasant air and pounding in the next. The whoops were just far enough to spread chaos recover with the rear tires, the front tires of the last major rut. Not nice.

When we have tried to take this series of bumps in the past at high speeds (over 20 mph) in the regular Tacoma TRD, the results were both shaking and grueling. It was easy to say, we were running out of suspension tuning capabilities. But when you try the same section in the Baja series, made the shock the difference. At 20, 30 and 40 mph, felt the series of ridges and bumps as they were always smooth. In high-range four-wheel drive, we found the best way to take control of the Tacoma was to hold on to the second high-speed (approximately 3,000 or 4,000 rpm) in the or 3 Transition (depending on speed) and aim for the top of the whoops. In fact, after a short time it was clear from the feeling of the truck to do it faster speeds as well, which we did.

We've chosen both the 5.4-and 6.2-liter V-8 Raptor through this section, and there is no hesitation in our mind that the Baja series is not as talented as the Raptor (nor should it be ). But the difference between the two, because the Toyota is a much less altered and unique truck is impressive. We would think the Baja series is about 80 to 85 percent of the way to the Raptor – cost albeit much smaller, lighter and less likely.

In the slow-go low-range mode, offered all the usual strengths of the TRD setup – are still going strong in the game, with the added bonus of a touch more bike – travel great tires, non-slip coating, traction control, limited slip differential, low range at each corner. TRD engineers, we are told to repress worked long and hard every millimeter full-static and full compression travel as possible. By the tuning of the front and rear springs and attention to the progressive bump stops The added articulation and strong hold our BFGS made short work of several steep off-camber hill climb (according to our calculations, about a 30-degree slope – almost a 70-percent grade), from which cut our belt tensioners in our shoulders we boarded the rough grade to the crest.

The T / X Baja makes no changes to the default 3,73:1 gear ratios that the TRD package or get the stock six-speed transmission. All motor characteristics and properties are the same as well. Our Baja Series trucks weighed about 100 pounds heavier than the 4×4 TRD package that participate in our Midsize Shootout, tipping the scales at 4420 pounds. For comparison, we also tested a front-wheel-drive Tacoma Prerunner I-4 (also a very capable and fun-to-drive midsize truck about $ 10,000 less), and weighed 3780 pounds.

Throughout our 400-mile drive route, we averaged just over 18 mpg (18.14 mpg to be exact), with a little less than that (17.67 mpg), when factoring in our 60-plus-mile off-road day where our time was also divided between high and low range. Our special pre-production model had the automatic transmission, but Toyota will offer a manual, as on the Access and Double Cab models does.

Due to our limited time with the Baja series and unfortunate scheduling, we were not doing in the situation, a meaningful test drives, but runs some rudimentary zero-to-60-mph put our prototype in the 8.5-second range, a Touch is slower than the TRD Tacoma we tested in the Midsize Shootout (8.17 seconds).

The only downside to the resort on the Baja TRD exhaust package that does not feel impressive from our ears or from the driver seat. The note sounds more like a hairdryer than the revised or rumbly throaty sound you expect from this kind of a vehicle. Nevertheless, if the point is to provide the package small, significant separators from ordinary Tacoma, the tailpipe look good.

To improve the ride and feel of the suspension at higher speeds some tuning on the rear spring pack has been done, it's a good job to help the ride at high speed, but it takes a small amount of load. With a gross vehicle weight of 5,500 pounds, our vehicle a real payload of around £ 800 -. And that's without passengers Add the fact that the springs to raise the front end a little bit, and if you add something in the bed and drive at night, expect to think oncoming traffic your brights are on. As the Raptor (at least the first one), seems the Baja series with a vehicle that is not the biggest part of his life, each payload carry his favors.

The obvious question here is what kind of premium price Toyota go to this new, aggressive off-road model pin when a fully loaded 4×4 Tacoma TRD can list for $ 34,000. (Our Midsize Shootout competitor listed for $ 34,635.)

Toyota will not disclose pricing until closer consistently on the Baja series' on-sale date near the end of June, but they have. From the time they first showed the truck at the 2011 State Fair of Texas The vehicle should cost right around $ 35,000, and when you consider what his beat on this new package that the price could be a challenge. Toyota representatives told us about their research, the $ 35,000 mark was revealed as much as a buyer would pay for a truck like this. And we suspect it is no coincidence that number is a healthy notch below the average sales price for the SVT Raptor.

For now, the numbers are likely to be in the hundreds, rather than thousands, but from everything we hear, this is not the last special off-road package (or truck?) From Toyota will be. Goes in return-fire, this is a beautiful picture, but we want to see more.