Years ago, when I had my second pickup truck, a great little 1993 Mazda B4000 (aka Ford Ranger) with big tires, American Racing Wheels, 5-speed manual and a removable cap for the extended bed with liner, I got asked for numerous favors. It got to the point where I had to put a decal on the rear window: “Yes, this is my truck. No, I won’t help you move.”
The 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro was not that truck. Now nearly 30 years into the future, the Army Green truck in my hands as I drove across the Mojave Desert from Arizona to California was a technological wonder with a large Apple Play-compatible digital display, driver aids, a multi-categorized trip computer, a moonroof, the creature comfort of a leather interior – and a power rear window! All this, despite being a genuine 4×4 off-road crawler, complete with an intake snorkel and trail camera for the display, had I decided to go through the Colorado River instead of over it.
I was headed to California for a great event: helping my ex-wife, Jennie and two younger daughters, Kira and Madeline, move from my old place to a new place, allowing the kids to walk or bike to school. Easy, right? A two-bedroom townhouse to a two-bedroom flat, about five miles apart up Katella Avenue in Orange County. The next question is usually, “What could go wrong?”
Well, nothing really did go wrong, thankfully. No major injuries, a great vehicle with a large-enough bed for all the furniture and boxes, in many trips, on one of the hottest weekends of the year. Needless to say, it was me and a dolly truck for the heavy stuff.
In the days following the three-day project (or ordeal, as I’ve been referring to it), and a steady diet of ibuprofen, I came to the conclusion, “I’m getting too old for this crap.” Honestly though, the comfort and convenience of the Tacoma made it better.
To say this truck is a good interstate cruiser is a mixed bag of sorts. It’s comfortable, allowing great seating position from the 10-way power driver’s seat; tracks beautifully going down the road; and the air-conditioning blows icy cold, almost instantaneously. Bt the caveat is that the 3.5-liter V6 drinks fuel like your crazy uncle on Thanksgiving.
According to the trip computer, I got about an average of 13 miles to the gallon going back and forth across the desert between Phoenix and the OC. Funny, it actually got better gas mileage around town – with the bed fully loaded.
While my time was spent making sure the important gals in my life landed safely in their new home, had I decided to do more than fuel up in Quartzsite, Arizona, this truck could have been realy fun. In Quartsite, a Mecca of 4×4 and ATV toy-play, I would be willing to bet the Tacoma would be a factory-built “King of the Mountain.” There was a lot of off-road gadgetry and features I never got to use.
There was a mode switch for multi-terrain select system including “crawl control.” According to the manual, “Uphill climbs, rocky terrain and steep grades can mean white-knuckle driving for many adventurers when they hit the trail. With the Toyota Crawl Control feature in your bag of tricks, you can simply relax and enjoy the ride.
“Activate the Crawl Control system and you will have the ability to set a crawl speed from 1 to 5 mph. A set speed and automatic braking will allow you to focus on navigating the twists and turns of the trail. With the ability to limit wheel slippage and optimize torque, Toyota Tacoma Crawl Control promises vice-like traction and control.”
I didn’t even put the darn thing in four-wheel-drive! What I did use was the plethora of tie-down loops, four of which were adjustable on a sliding bar in the bed. If you need to haul things requiring tie-downs, the Tacoma’s bed has you covered. So does the super strong suspension. This included the china cabinet, beds and dining room table and chairs. For the trip home, contents included my patio set and a couple of Porsche seats.
As mentioned above, I’m hiring movers then next time my nomadic ex-wife decides to relocate. But in the end, I was glad I had such a nice, comfortable truck to make my labors easier.
2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4×4
Vehicle: rear/4-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
Base Price: $45,000 Price as Tested: $50,287
Engine: 211 cu in, 3456 cc DOHC 24-valve V6, 278 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, 265 pound-feet of torque @ 4600 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 127.4 in Length: 212.3 in Width: 75.2 in
Curb weight: 4,500–4,600 pounds
EPA Fuel Economy: Combined/city/highway: 18 city, 22 highway, 19 combined
Assembled: San Antonio, Texas