It’s been an interesting fortnight of Toyota vehicles, starting with the 2022 Toyota Tundra, the big brother, followed by the rare 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 Double Cab. Since they’re at different points in the Toyota design cycle, it’s been very informative to see just how much difference the rumored Tacoma remodel will have on this already ridiculously popular light truck. And that difference is reputedly quite significant. But here’s the thing: The Tacoma is so crazy popular that Toyota dealers are now routinely adding a $10K surcharge to the sticker price, and that’s fur customers willing to wait a few months to get the one they desire. In other words, any criticism I might have is irrelevant, this is a hot ticket item and will be even more so after the remodel finally shows up.
When Toyota offered to let me drive an Electric Lime Metallic 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, how could I resist? After all, it’s almost exactly the car my 21yo son has on order from Toyota, though his will be in dark grey, not flashy neon green. Here’s an exterior shot so you can see this wild color:
The front grill design is terrific in the Tacoma too, as you can see, a big, rugged look that offers up the threat of a tough off-road monster. The back, well, not so much, but we’ll get to it. Notice this is the 4×4 Double Cab, so it’s got seating for five (no front bench seats anymore!) and four doors for easy access and egress. Because it’s the TRD Pro it also has 16″ TRD black alloy wheels and various other exterior touches to make it look cool. One thing I really liked about this model was the TRD Pro Hood Scoop and Graphic:
A subtle topographic map, but it really looks cool from the driver’s seat when the light hits it just right. And, of course, if you spring for the top-end TRD Pro, you want to make sure others know that too, hence the label on the side. The name is also embossed on the metal of the side panels too, as you’ll see with the rear exterior photo, a bit later in this article.
The Tacoma TRD Pro is powered by a 3.5L V6 with Dual VVT-i and 6-speed automatic and, frankly, it’s underpowered. After the big driving experience of the Toyota Tundra with its hefty engine, this really felt like it needed more oomph, particularly from a stop. Getting up to speed on the highway? That’s when I noticed the small engine the most, and if I would have been towing a 1000-pound boat or had 500 pounds of payload in the truck bed, then it would have felt even more underpowered. If you’re eager for a Tacoma, you’ll need to think carefully about engine size, even with the adverse impact on fuel efficiency.
Swinging into the Tacoma’s driver seat, this is where you can really see just how much the vehicle needs its facelift. This is a dashboard that feels like it hasn’t been updated in a decade:
It had been so long since I’d seen the spin-to-angle vents that my son had to remind me how to use them! It’s all entirely functional, of course, and over the week I drove it, the layout definitely grew on me, but when compared to the lovely new Tundra design, it’s clear that the remodeled Tacoma is going to be a big upgrade all around.
Even the infotainment system is a few generations behind the latest from Toyota in the 2022 model lineup, feeling like what you’d expect on a $25K entry level sedan, not a $50K premium light truck. I’ll come back to the price issue a bit later too. Meanwhile, check this out:
I really like the zigzag gear shift with its manual low gears to override the automatic if desired. And an emergency brake pull lever! When was the last time you saw that in a vehicle? Since the 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 is, well, a 4×4, it’s a fair question to ask where all those controls are located. Can you see any of them in the above photo? There’s a little bit of the control – including the central button of the lower row that lets you automatically slide the cab / bed window open and closed – but what about drive modes?
For those, you have to look up…
Yes, the 4×4 controls are on the ceiling control, along with the lights and moonroof controls. What an odd place to have them (though I have seen other 4x4s with a similar design). My guess is that the redesign will move them all back to the center console to make them more accessible, but we’ll have to see.
Back to the main gauge display:
It’s certainly entirely functional with its smartphone-sized display screen in the middle. Notice my fuel efficiency after about 250 miles of driving; 19.6mpg. Not horrible, actually, for a light pickup truck, its EPA ratings are 18/22. While I usually criticize the lack of fuel efficiency, for a 5-seater with a (small) truck bed and some towing capacity, I would rate the Tacoma as entirely acceptable. Of course, it also feels a bit underpowered, which could only be remedied by a less fuel-efficient engine, but that’s the trade-off of every modern vehicle: power or gas mileage?
Moving out of the truck, while the truckbed is short in this edition – less than 6′ long – it is darn handy for hauling gear and equipment, supplies from the market, even a bike or three. This includes the Bed Mat and Bed Light (about $300 combined), the former of which could easily be lifted by anyone who was so inclined, which rather surprised me. Standard on the Tacoma truck bed is something that’s perfect for tailgaters:
There’s no regular 110V power outlet in the interior of the truck, but at least there’s one on the truck bed, which undoubtedly gets used quite a bit by Tacoma owners.
With the tailgate closed, here’s the rear exterior view:
The front design is tough, but this rear view? Short-bed light-duty pickup. Also, note the TRD PRO embossing in the steel of the side panels. Very cool, and not something I’ve seen on any of the hundreds of Tacomas I’ve seen in the wild. The tailgate also has a dampened drop system, so when you open it, the gate slowly lowers to flat, rather than slamming down on your unsuspecting stomach like a ton ‘o bricks.
What about rear leg room in that Double Cab design? Well, if you have a tall driver and front passenger, it’s not good news for the rear passengers:
The idea of having five big adults in this vehicle brings to mind “clown car”, but only a little bit. You could work it out, but if you’ve got a crew and need a truck for work or so you can all head to a job site, the Tundra’s extra room is going to serve you very well in comparison to the Tacoma. A family with a young ‘un or two, however? Perfect.
This brings us to the price tag. After driving the $60K 2022 Toyota Tundra, I got into the Tacoma and drove it around, examined the dashboard design, infotainment system, and other features, and figured that it was a step down in size and design, but an expected one. Then I looked at the Monroney and this vehicle, as driven, prices out at $50,733. Add that $10K dealer upcharge and this is the same price as the Tundra, which is hard to believe. If this were $10K lower-priced, at about $40K, it would be a fantastic truck and well worth its fan base, but even after a week of it growing on me as I kept driving it, the Tacoma TRD Pro still feels overpriced at $50K.
But, as I said in the beginning, there’s a waiting list and dealers are getting away with that outrageous upcharge, so there are clearly a LOT of people who are still lined up to pay whatever they must to get this popular – top five trucks in the US, by sales – light-duty pickup. I’ll wrap it up by saying that I did really enjoy driving the Tacoma, look forward to the redesign, and am eager to hear his assessment after my son takes delivery of his own 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4 Double Cab in Electric Lime Metallic. Powered by a 3.5L V6 VVT-i engine with 6-speed automatic. MSRP: $46,585.00 OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: Door Edge Guard, Door Sill Protector, Bed Light, Bed Mat, D-Rings, Tailgate Emblem, TRD Air Filter, Spare Tire Locks. AS DRIVEN: $50,733.00
Disclosure: Toyota loaned me the Tacoma TRD Pro for a week in return for this candid writeup and review. Thanks, Toyota!