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Toyota TRD: What Is It?

“What’s in a name?” lamented Juliet in Shakespeare’s tragic play. For Toyota TRD, it may not be everything, but it’s a lot. When you see TRD in the form of a decal or badge affixed to a truck or crossover, you are safe to assume that something out of the ordinary is going on, but what exactly? Ay, there’s the rub.

Currently, Toyota (TMS) has four trucks and SUVs eligible to wear some form of the TRD badge: Tundra, Tacoma, 4Runner and Sequoia. For 2020, there will also be TRD versions of the RAV4, the Camry and the Avalon, but that’s another story for another day. Today, as it applies to trucks, TRD is all about off-road, or mostly about off-road.

Attempting to summarize what TRD brings to the table for these various models in one universal definition is a fool’s errand. TRD, you see, is an acronym for Toyota Racing Development. It’s the TMS factory-backed racing arm. What does that have to do with off-roading? Well, successful racing involves suspension architecture and tuning, as does off-roading. TRD brings its influence to other areas of a vehicle, but its most important contributions revolve around the suspension.

TRD isn’t a singular grade for the models on which it’s found. There are actually three TRD grades: TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro. Each has a specific role, and a graduating impact, for off-roading. Exactly what TRD touches may vary from model to model, which means the TRD Off-Road Package for the 4Runner may differ a bit from the same package in the Tundra. But, the one constant you can bank on is, the off-road capability increases as you move from TRD Sport up to TRD Pro.

Not every model with TRD trim levels, has all of them. For example, TRD Sport is the only TRD trim Toyota offers on the 2019 Sequoia, which is scheduled to get an off-road TRD Pro version for 2020. In fact, the Tacoma is the only model offering all three TRD grades.

TRD Sport

(Tacoma and Sequoia)

If you’ve ever been to Texas, you may have heard the expression, “He’s all hat and no cattle.” It describes a person looking and acting the part of a cowpoke, but not having the experiences of one. This sums up TRD Sport well. It’s an appearance package only. It provides no additional off-road prowess over non-TRD trim levels. That’s not a bad thing, but it illustrates that TRD doesn’t always equal extra off-road capability. As with the rest of the Tacoma trim levels, the TRD Sport is available in rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive.

Because Tacoma is the one model offering all three TRD grades, we’ll spotlight its content for each TRD trim. Unique to the Tacoma TRD Sport compared to non-TRD grades are …

  • Integrated wide-angle fog lights

  • Hood scoop (non-functional)

  • Sport-tuned suspension

  • Unique 17-in alloy wheels

  • TRD graphics

Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale or Find a Toyota Sequoia for sale

TRD Off-Road

(Tacoma and 4Runner)

Moving up to TRD Off-Road is where the serious off-road TRD features begin. But, don’t be fooled. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road is available in RWD or 4WD. The “Off-Road” following TRD is really meaningless as far as off-road capability goes if you don’t opt for 4WD. The RWD version still has much of the same equipment as the 4WD version, but it won’t be more off-road capable than any other RWD Tacoma.

Although every 4WD Tacoma can perform off-road, the TRD Off-Road is for more aggressive forays into mud, sand and rocks. Targeting off-roaders who believe the adventure of traveling to a hard-to-get-to destination is the reason for going in the first place, TRD Off-Road amps things up.

The TRD Off-Road upgrades include …

  • Greater approach angle from 29 degrees to 32 degrees

  • Special off-road-tuned suspension

  • Bilstein shocks

  • Wide-angle fog lights

  • 16-in unique alloy wheels

  • Inclinometer with roll/pitch displays

  • Multi-terrain Select

  • Crawl Control (cruise control for off-roading)

  • Electronically locking rear differential

  • TRD Off-Road graphics

Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale or Find a Toyota 4Runner for sale


(Tacoma, 4Runner and Tundra)

At the top of the TRD heap, the TRD Pro is the brand’s ultimate off-roading package. It does provide enhanced off-road capability over the TRD Off-Road, but it also cranks up the convenience and comfort by adding many up-level features found in the high-end Limited grade, such as a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

To the TRD Off-Road features, the TRD Pro either adds or upgrades …

  • Greater approach angle from 32 degrees to 35 degrees

  • Fox Internal Bypass coil-over springs and rear remote reservoir shocks

  • A 1-in lifted suspension

  • 16-in TRD Pro black alloy wheels

  • Thicker front skid plate

  • TRD Pro Cat-back Exhaust

  • Heritage-inspired “Toyota” front grille

  • Black leather-trimmed seats with TRD Pro graphic

  • Floor mats with TRD Pro graphic

  • TRD Pro leather shift knob

  • TRD Pro graphics

Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale or Find a Toyota 4Runner for sale or Find a Toyota Sequoia for sale

In Closing

There aren’t any hard and fast rules where Toyota TRD is involved, and it’s going to become even murkier once the TRD versions of the Camry and the Avalon arrive next year. Find a Toyota for sale

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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