Toyota shows off overlanding Tacoma at virtual SEMA show

Not sure why someone couldn’t Photoshop in a desert background, but oh well.


How do you make a Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro better? Give it to a bunch of Toyota owners and tell them to build the ultimate overlanding Taco for SEMA — well, the online version, anyway. This is the dream Tacoma for those who want to explore, using their rig as a mobile basecamp. It’s not about speed, it’s about capability and reliability.

That’s not to say there aren’t any go-fast bits here. A Magnuson supercharger is fitted to the Tacoma’s 3.5-liter V6 engine, upping output from 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque to 370 hp and 330 lb-ft. Unfortunately that power is still going through Toyota’s lazy six-speed automatic transmission. In our latest drive of the 2020 model, editor Craig Cole says of this gearbox, “Sometimes it’s perfectly smooth, while other times, particularly when you’re deep in the throttle, upshifts can be a bit hammering. It’s also reluctant to drop gears, requiring a healthy prod to summon a downshift.” The TRD Pro is available with a six-speed manual and I’d pick it over the automatic any day, even for overlanding.

The show truck boasts 16-inch Method race wheels, known for their ability to stay true and round despite crashing against rocks and other obstacles. (Fun fact: When a wheel bends from hitting a rock too fast, in off-roading, we call it a taco. As in, “I taco’d my front wheel driving too fast through that wash.”) Those wheels are wrapped in 33-inch BF Goodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires, an excellent choice for their sidewall strength and beefy tread. The standard Tacoma in TRD Pro trim comes with 30-inch tires, so drivers would get a bit of a lift here for more ground clearance and better approach, departure and breakover angles. 

Suspension changes come courtsey of ToyTec Boss Aluma 2.5 Series coilovers, adding more lift. However, I should note that the stock Fox 2.5 internal bypass coilovers with remote rear reservoirs are great and would likely do just fine in this application. New upper control arms are courtesy of Camburg Engineering, allowing the truck to get the most wheel travel possible. 

CBI Offroad Fabrication supplies the rock sliders and skid plates, including skids for the lower control arms. The build also includes the company’s front aluminum bumper with a ComeUp winch and Rigid LED lighting, as well as its rear steel bumper with a swing-out spare tire carrier and mounts for a Hi-Lift jack and a PowerTank PT10 air compressor. 

A roof rack holds Maxtrax recovery boards and Rotopax external fuel and water storage packs. There is a Yakima bed rack and tent in the cargo bed, and more Rigid lighting on the roof rack. The snorkel, however, is stock.

So, future explorers, does this fit the bill? Well, one thing you’ll need to consider is the stock truck’s payload rating. The Tacoma TRD Pro with the automatic transmission can handle 1,175 pounds of payload. This overlanding rig is a pretty standard build — note that there are no fancy kitchen attachments or anything of the sort — but you’re still adding weight. You’ll have to decrease the weight of the rest of your gear proportionally. Still, even taking weight into consideration, this truck looks to have everything you need to get out and have an adventure. 

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