While the fourth-generation Toyota Tacoma is designed primarily for the USA, Australia did play a small role in developing the new “mid-size” pickup truck.

    ARB, the Australia-based off-roading specialist company, was tapped to develop key components for the new Trailhunter trim line that’s aimed at those who like to go overlanding. ARB’s parts also appear on the desert racing-focussed TRD Pro. More on both later.

    As expected, the new Tacoma is based on the TNGA-F body-on-frame architecture that already serves as the basis for the larger Tundra pickup, Sequoia SUV, and 300-Series LandCruiser.

    There are two passenger cab options: Xtra Cab with two doors, two seats and a large storage area behind, and the Double Cab with four doors and five seats. Both Xtra and Double Cab models can had with either a five- or six-foot (1.5m or 1.8m) tray.

    A boxy interior matches the interior. On lower grades there’s a 7.0-inch display in the instrumentation area, and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, while higher-spec models have a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation cluster and 14.0-inch touchscreen.

    The base powertrain offering is the 2.4-litre i-Force turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

    In the base SR model, this engine makes 170kW and 329Nm. For all other trim levels, the 2.4-litre turbo cranks out 207kW and 430Nm when paired to an eight-speed automatic.

    The available six-speed manual comes with automatic rev-matching, anti-stall technology, and the ability to start in gear, but the engine is detuned to 201kW and 420Nm.

    Step up to the i-Force Max and you’ll be treated to a hybrid powertrain with a version of that 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo coupled to a 36kW electric motor built into the eight-speed automatic transmission, and hooked up to a 1.87kWh nickle metal hydride (NiMH) battery.

    All together, the i-Force Max is said to produce 243kW and 630Nm.

    Rear-wheel drive Tacos are fitted with an automatic limited-slip differential, while four-wheel drive models gain an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case, auto LSD, and active traction control. The various TRD models and Trailhunter grade also have an electronic locking rear differential, while the hybrid version of the Limited variant has full-time four-wheel drive and a centre-locking diff.

    Leaf-spring rear suspension is standard on lower grades, while more expensive variants have a multi-link rear setup. All variants now have four-wheel disc brakes as standard.

    There’s a dizzying number of trim levels available (SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter), many of which have a strong off-road focus.

    The Aussie connection is strongest in the Trailhunter, which, according to Toyota, was developed with the an ARB engineering team working on-site in America.

    As such the Trailhunter rides on 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tyres. It features Old Man Emu off-road suspension with position-sensitive 2.5-inch forged monotube shocks equipped with rear external piggyback-style remote reservoirs.

    Compared to the regular Tacoma, the Trailhunter’s ride height is 51mm taller at the front and 38mm taller at the rear.

    There are also ARB rear recovery points, a steel rear bumper, and a utility bar with removable MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) panels in the tray bed.

    On the options list are light- and heavy-duty ARB bed racks that can support items like a rooftop tent, canopies, or camp shower.

    All of this ARB equipment sits alongside the standard hybrid engine, heritage grille with Toyota wording, rock rails, numerous bash plates made from high-strength steel, 20-inch light bar, 2400W AC inverter, and a factory-made high-mount air intake.

    The range-topping TRD Pro also features ARB’s steel rear bumper with recovery points, but it rides on an adjustable Fox suspension setup with Internal Floating Piston bump stops.

    For the driver and front passenger there are IsoDynamic Performance Seats, which have an adjustable air-over-oil shock absorber system to counteract both vertical and lateral seat movement.

    The TRD Pro has 280mm of ground clearance, and is also 76mm wider than the SR5 grade. Toyota claims it has 33.8-degree approach, 23.5-degree breakover, and 25.7-degree departure angles.

    Deliveries of the new Tacoma begin later this year in the US, although the hybrid i-Force Max models won’t reach showrooms until early 2024.

    It’s almost a given the new Tacoma will continue to dominate the mid-size pickup truck segment in the US, but the question is whether it can grow its lead.

    In 2022, the Tacoma lapped the competition with 215,853 sales. The Chevrolet Colorado (89,187) and Jeep Gladiator (77,855) took up the podium places, while the Nissan Frontier (76,185), Ford Ranger (56,987), Honda Ridgeline (42,762), and GMC Canyon (27,821) rounded out the list.

    Derek Fung

    Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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