2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro : Review
For many in the industry, the Toyota Tundra is an enigma. The truck has few of the things that many think are the expected standard in the segment, yet Toyota has been selling Tundras as fast as they can build them. This is because the Tundra is exactly what many truck buyers want. It’s a full-sized pickup truck that does its job and holds value and capability while doing so. In half-ton trucks, despite what the advertisements might say, it’s not about towing capacity or hauling tonnage. It’s about simple versatility and daily usability. Those two things are abundant in any flavor of Tundra you purchase.
With the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, though, you’re going for more than that. This is the extreme off-road version of the half-ton Toy. It’s often compared (rightfully so) to the Ford Raptor and (wrongly) to the Ram Rebel. Like the Raptor, the Tundra TRD Pro is a rally machine made for desert runs like the Baja 1000 it has competed in (with a stock truck winning Tecate in 2015). Unlike the Rebel, it’s not a mudder or rock climber for the average driver. For that, Toyota has the Tacoma TRD Pro and the 4Runner Trail.
We learned this first hand because we managed to not only get the Tundra TRD Pro stuck, but to get it so stuck that we had to call in British reinforcements to get us out. The big 381 horsepower, made in Texas machine was extracted by a 100-some horsepower throwback to British light cavalry. It was quite humiliating, and left us a bit disappointed with the Tundra TRD Pro which had performed admirably when we previously drove the 2015 version in dry conditions.
On the exterior, the 2016 Tundra TRD Pro is all about muscle. From its dark grille to its extra intake and rugged all-terrain tires (Michelin LTX A/T 2), the Tundra carries itself well in this package. The TRD Pro includes black 18-inch alloy wheels, slightly more space in the wheel wells due to a beefier suspension (which includes Bilstein shocks), and TRD Pro logos.
Our test model included the bitchin’ new “Concrete” paint that is a sort of flat desert tan similar to what the military might use, but with a gloss coat covering. It’s hard to explain how great this looks on the Tundra, but it’s easily the best color available for this truck in 2016. It adds an air of badassery that includes a hint of “let’s mount a 50-cal on here and go take care of bidness.” Sadly the Orange Inferno color featured in the photos below is not offered on the Tundra TRD Pro in 2016.
Inside, the TRD Pro edition of the 2016 Toyota Tundra includes a fair amount of goodies for the price. A 7-inch touchscreen interface dominates the dash, flanked underneath by huge dials for audio volume and tuning. Red stitching sets everything off with bling. Instruments are easy to read and nicely ensconced to limit glare. We really liked the big, bold dials and high-contrast look of the cluster, making it easy to see what’s going on immediately. Storage and space for your stuff is abundant in the Tundra as well.
What threw us for a loop, though, is that this TRD Pro “extreme off-road” edition of the Tundra has only one real “off-road” control: the 4WD selector. This is a simple dial that changes the transfer case from rear-wheel drive to four-high and four-lo. Outside of that, you won’t find a differential lock, any kind of terrain selector, or anything to change suspension, disconnect sway bars, or otherwise do anything nifty with the chassis or drivetrain. You’ll have to look to the smaller Toyota Tacoma for some of those features.
Under the hood of the 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is a throaty 5.7-liter V8 that outputs 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Some Toyota Racing Development enhancements give the Tundra TRD Pro a bit more in the sound quality department on acceleration. The engine really rumbles, despite its barely average output for the class.
The Tundra TRD Pro edition comes standard with a towing kit and can pull up to 9,800 pounds with the Crew Cab as we had it. Those who own a TRD Pro version of the 2016 Tundra, though, had better not be worried about fuel economy because returns are a mediocre 15 mpg combined (13 in the city, 17 on the highway). And you’ll struggle to make those estimates most of the time.
What you can expect out of the Tundra TRD Pro, though, are sub-7 second 0-60 mph times and some strong off-road performance in terms of what the suspension can handle. Just don’t expect to plow through mud, climb difficult terrain, or slog through deep slush after a winter storm. The latter was our ultimate downfall as we got stuck in a combination of melting snow and mud. The lack of locking differential and more appropriate tires for those conditions left us calling for assistance.
As it is, the 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is a lot of fun. It’s a big, beefy pickup with all of the expectations that has in everyday use, but with added credibility for off-road driving. If you like to fly along dirt roads, jump the occasional short dune, and fling beach sand around, then you’ll love the Tundra TRD Pro. For mud, rocks, river fording, and deep snow, though, you may need to look at the smaller Tacoma. For around $45,000, you can get a very well-equipped 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro and be happy with it if you understand its limitations.