Given the Toyota Tacoma’s already-sporty demeanor, I was intrigued when Toyota recently introduced a TRD accessory lift kit for its popular midsize pickup.
According to Toyota’s press release, the kit provides 2 inches of lift up front with 1 inch of lift in the rear. It comes with “TRD-tuned” Bilstein monotube shocks and is the only lift validated by TRD engineers to be compatible with Toyota Safety Sense, which basically means “since it comes from us, it’s the only lift that we can guarantee won’t screw up any of the truck’s active safety systems.”
The kit includes the grille and Toyota Safety Sense “millimeter wave sensor” from the Tacoma TRD Pro, for reasons we’ll get to below.
Buried within Toyota’s press release for the Tacoma’s new TRD lift kit though is this line: “Also included are two matching black bezels that fill in the deleted fog lamps and complement the TRD Pro-style grille.”
Deleted fog lamps? You read that right. I reached out to Toyota for clarification, and according to the company, “For this kit, the fog lamps are removed. This is due to laws in some states where fog lamps are not legal when aimed upward at a certain angle.”
So basically what’s going on here is that a vehicle’s fog lights are set up to emit light from a certain height relative to the vehicle’s ride height. Up to this point, the only Tacoma with fog lights and a different ride height than a regular V6 4×4 model is the TRD Pro, which sits at the same ride height as a Tacoma will with this new lift kit, and eschews the regular fog lights in favor of Rigid Industries units.
Looking back, these Rigid Industries lights were likely included in part because putting in different fog lights gave Toyota an opportunity to correct any issues with the angle of the lights, given the TRD Pro’s taller ride height.
Regarding that TRD Pro grille that’s included with the TRD accessory lift kit, its “millimeter wave sensor” is positioned lower to account for the added ride height of the TRD Pro, which again, matches the ride height of a Tacoma with this new lift, so the installation of this grille means everything meshes from a geometry standpoint when it comes to the truck’s active safety systems.
Back to the lighting. Since Toyota probably didn’t want to include the more expensive Rigid Industries units with this kit, they were left with these options if they wanted to offer a lift kit that’s 50-state legal:
- Offer a lift kit, but remove the fog lights to ensure compliance
- Offer a lift kit, and make re-angling the factory fog lights part of the installation process
Regarding number 2 — who knows if this is even possible given the design of the parts involved, and if so, it would likely be difficult for a dealership technician to get perfectly right. So Toyota instead went with option one, which includes the ridiculous technicality that the truck’s fog lights be removed.
What’s particularly silly and frustrating here is that virtually none of the dozens of lifted trucks you see on the road on any given day have had their fog lights re-angled; you can bet on that. Is it technically legal for the vehicle to be driving around like this? In some states it sounds like it isn’t, but it falls into that gray area of things that aren’t actively policed.
Where Toyota runs into an issue, though, is in the fact that it’s a manufacturer. This means it must comply with DOT standards and would be liable were it to sell trucks fitted with lighting that isn’t compliant
Also frustrating? The Ford Ranger Tremor gains 0.8 inches of ride height — admittedly a little less than the Tacoma here — and gets to keep its fog lights.
In conclusion, if you want a Tacoma with the new TRD lift kit, Toyota’s install instructions will dictate that the fog lights be removed. Now here’s the thing — I don’t think individual dealers that install these kits will be obligated to remove the fog lights when doing so.
In fact, I’m curious to see how many dealers that add this kit to Tacomas they sell will just leave the fog lights in. My guess is many, if not most. In other words, keeping the fogs may just mean buying from an independently operated Toyota dealership that’s willing to install the lift without touching the lighting.
Alternatively, if you want this lift kit and live in one of these states where fog lamps are in fact not legal when aimed upward at a certain angle, you could install a set of Tacoma TRD Pro fog lights, which will be angled properly in their factory spec. If it were me, I’d do everything I could to avoid losing my fog lights. Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale
Chris O’Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for a while, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Find him on YouTube and on Instagram.