Christopher Little

Quick Spin: 2020 Toyota Tacoma

2020 is bringing a host of new technology to the Toyota lineup. Toyota Safety Sense is now standard across most of the 2020 models and an updated multimedia system that includes Android Auto functionality is now available. After finding the later feature missing from our late Fall RAV4 test, we were eager to try out the updated system. This early 2020 test of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road fit the bill nicely. We’ve spent several weeks with TRD Off-Road Tacomas, from our original winter test in 2016 to a 2018 test of a truck with the optional 6-speed manual.

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 1

The Tacoma itself is updated for 2020. Each trim gets a new grille, revised wheel design, and tail lights. LED lighting is now available and optional on the higher trim levels, as is an upgraded 10″ infotainment screen. Inside, a 10-way power adjustable driver seat is now standard. Passengers will have to make due with a four-way manually adjustable seat, despite now having Smart Key entry integrated into their door handle. Finally, Toyota Safety Sense P is standard across all Tacoma models. This suite of driver aids includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, High-Speed Dynamic radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams. Disappointingly, this standard tech overlooks arguably more useful driver aids like blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors, or 360-degree cameras. Those features can be added in as optional extras, however.

Our TRD Off-Road arrived in an eye-catching Barcelona Red Metallic with the LED lighting. It was also optioned with the full set of upgraded technology, including the premium audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, on-board navigation, and Multi-terrain Monitor, a series of cameras that provides a 360-degree view of the Tacoma’s surroundings. This Tacoma is a sharp looking truck with an as-tested price of $44,500. We also enjoyed having Android Auto integration for personalized maps and content. While these options make living with Tacoma easier, the basic experience hasn’t changed. The 3.5L V6 still produces 278 hp and 265 lb-ft torque. We would wager the 6-speed automatic’s programming has been revised for the better. We found this truck’s shift points to be more on-the-ball than before, but the gutless V6 still leaves much to be desired from the right foot. Daily life with all-terrain tires and stiffer Bilstien shocks does mean a bit of tire noise and bouncier ride, but the wet, sandy terrain of our photo location provided no challenge to the Tacoma’s 4×4 capability.

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 6

New headlights and a new head unit do not make a new truck. For years, the Tacoma has a solid following and a more solid resale value. The if-it-ain’t broke argument holds for a while, but I’m not sure for how long. If you think on the standard comforts, conveniences, and technologies that the Tacoma is missing, it wouldn’t take much segment disruption from another established value brand to perhaps capture some of the market. Simple things like a power passenger seat, power liftgate, heads-up display, or ventilated seats could make a big difference. But without any disruption or innovation on the horizon for the segment as a whole, the Tacoma continues to lead the mid-size market. But daily life in the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road has been improved. It’s capability was never in question, but the LED lighting and Android Auto connectivity did make the commute noticeably safer and easier. Those are attributes you can’t argue with.

-Christopher Little

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4
Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation with options $6,440
Barcelona Red Metallic
TRD Off-Road Leather Trim In Black
Destination Charges $1,095
As Tested MSRP $44,500

Survivor: 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road
Quick Spin: 2018 Toyota Tacoma 6MT
Quick Spin: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

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