How far has the Toyota Tacoma off-road technology come in about 20 years? We take our 2002 “Baby Yota” Tacoma charity project truck and a brand-new 2021 Tacoma TRD Pro manual transmission up and down an icy and rutted out Cliffhanger trail. There is now about $40,000 of difference between these trucks. We recently purchased the 2002 Tacoma 4×4 for $7,700. The new 2021 TRD Pro you see here has a sticker price of just over $47,000.
The old Tacoma is a regular cab 4×4 truck with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and a 4-speed automatic. It has a transfer case for 4LO crawling, but our truck does not have locking differentials, sophisticated traction control, or ABS brakes. It is very simple and the truck has about 182,000 miles on it. The suspension is also pretty basic, but the truck is still very comfortable. The tires are old, not very aggressive, and need to be replaced. We have big plans for “Baby Yota”. We aim to turn it into a solid overland truck sleeping quarters in the bed, new Toytec suspension, new tires, bumpers, a winch, and more. Once it’s done. We will auction it off on our new site TFLbids.com and all proceeds will to a charity – Mountain States Children’s Home.
The new Tacoma is a crew cab 4×4 truck with a 3.5-liter V6 and a 6-speed manual transmission. This truck is the most off-road worthy Tacoma that is currently available from the factory. The manual transmission and different rear differential gearing offer the truck a good 44-to-1 low-range crawl ratio. This is better than 36-to-1 with the automatic transmission. The truck is equipped with a 4LO transfer case, selectable rear locker, skid plates, specially tuned suspension with FOX shocks. The manual transmission truck does not offer a low-speed crawl control system, but it has a sophisticated traction control system, ABS, 360-degree camera system, and more. This truck is riding on factory Goodyear Wrangler with Kevlar tires.
On the way to the main Cliffhanger obstacle, we encountered a relatively deep ice-covered mud hole. This turned out to be a great test of tires, 4×4 systems, and traction. The new Tacoma went up and over the icy ledge without much trouble. The old Tacoma got bogged down without the help of traction control and a rear locker. However, the old Tacoma is so small that Tommy was able to steer around the main part of the obstacle and get over it.
Check out all of the off-road fun in the video below.