The virtuosos at the Toyota TRD shop build some amazing vehicles, whether it’s the TRD Pro off-road trucks or the 4Runners that can do amazing things in the dirt. But they are not just wizards of off-road tuning. In fact, they also created the TRD Sport which, despite appearances and probably the expectations of many buyers, is designed for street use, not off-road use. But does that make it a better truck?
What is the 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport?
The Tacoma TRD Sport actually has suspension that’s worse for off-roading but better for street driving than the regular SR5 Tacoma. The TRD Sport is basically an appearance package with a slightly different suspension that Toyota says is “sport-tuned,” meaning it’s a bit stiffer for street use. Sure, a soft suspension is great when you’re trying to articulate the truck on a rock, but it sucks when you’re trying to change lanes at speed on the freeway. That’s the sweet spot of TRD Sport.
Fans of quicker acceleration will also appreciate the quicker differential ratio for the rear. Again, that helps with the street-focused Sport’s mission to go faster on pavement.
Any TRD model is an upgrade
Both TRD Tacomas, whether it’s the Off-Road or the Sport, are an improvement over the regular truck, to be sure, but the two TRD versions of the Tacoma serve different functions. Weekend warriors love the TRD Off-Road for its lift, custom shocks, locking rear diff and tougher underbody cladding.
But for the rest of us who mostly drive the street and occasionally play in the dirt, the Sport may actually be a better truck. It has the same utility, towing, and even payload numbers. However, it doesn’t have the fancy electronic locking rear diff of the Pro or Trail special edition.
Which TRD Package is Best on the 2023 Tacoma?
You can order the TRD Sport with several option packages that you can’t on other Toyotas. The TRD Premium Sport package is the one to grab because it comes with the creature comforts we all want, like heated seats and an upgraded stereo with navigation. The Advanced Technology Package adds a panoramic view monitor, blind spot indicators and a rear parking sonar.
There are two engine options, although there is hardly a big difference between the two. One is a 3.5-liter V6 with 278 horsepower. The other is a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that adds variable valve timing. Compared to the SR5, you also get LED headlights and fog lights with black bezels.
Is the SR5 or TRD Sport better for off-road fun?
Both the TRD Sport and SR5 trims are pretty capable off-road trucks that can handle a surprising amount of abuse just fine. The Sport has larger wheels and tires with a smaller sidewall, which means the (relatively low) danger of a flat tire is increased. Compared to the SR5, it has the same approach and departure angles as the SR5. However, the Sport has more clearance and a better breakover angle, at 24 degrees compared to 21.
However, you can still order the SR5 and Sport with a manual, according to motor tendency.
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