Posted by Mark Williams | April 9, 2012
To begin: This is no Raptor fighter, but it does get Toyota branch in the appropriate direction. In fact, Toyota will be the aboriginal to acquaint you it doesn’t appetite the new Tacoma T/X Baja Alternation amalgamation to be abashed as the automaker’s adaptation of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor; the goals were added modest, and the account was a tad smaller. Still, there is actuality here.
The guys at Toyota Racing Development accept done a arch job of creating a different abeyance amalgamation that gives the Tacoma awfully bigger accelerated adequacy over Toyota’s antecedent king-of-the-hill TRD Off-Road Package. In fact, the new Bilstein shocks — advised to bigger handle acute arid environments — advice advance all-around on-pavement achievement and administration dynamics as well. But conceivably that shouldn’t abruptness anyone, accustomed that Toyota (specifically, its TRD group) has been a able amateur in the off-road and performance-truck segments for added than a few decades.
We took a quick drive in the T/X Baja at aftermost year’s Texas Auto Writers Association blow area Toyota brought out the Baja Alternation and let us get abaft the wheel. The abbreviate off-road advance was not about fast and arduous abundant to let the Baja advance its wings, so we fabricated a point of accusatory to Toyota generally abundant that the automaker assuredly threw us the keys to shut us up.
As a quick recap, the new abeyance is a added acute TRD package, giving the Tacoma bigger accelerated off-road capability. Abundant of this is able with abundant bigger and bigger Bilstein shock absorbers. The advanced set has a monster 60-mm-thick shock anatomy originally advised for able motorhome use, but TRD acquainted it to progressively blot adamantine hits and backlash bound to get the annoy aback on the arena with the atomic bulk of impact.
In accession to the big Bilstein shocks, the T/X Baja has a new set of annealed advanced springs that accord the Tacoma about 2 inches of added lift, giving the barter a counterbalanced and added arty look.
In back, the key improvements additionally centermost on the bigger Bilstein chase shocks, with a 50-mm-shock anatomy and angular army alien reservoir. Astute readers will apprehension that the alien backlog was army angular in the T/X Baja we collection in Texas, but we were told the new bureaucracy is beneath decumbent to blow by bedrock arrest and added debris.
The T/X Baja Alternation includes characteristic 16-inch beadlock-style auto that attending agnate to the Bedrock Warrior amalgamation offered on the Tundra, with 265/70R16 BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. The final additions accommodate a side-exit TRD cat-back bankrupt and a set of slinging-mud graphics.
We spent the day in the T/X Baja active about a bounded motorcycle/4×4 park. Considering the genitalia account isn’t actual long, it’s hasty how able-bodied they assignment calm to accomplish the Tacoma a decidedly bigger accelerated aerialist off-road. And we say that accepting admired how able the absolute TRD amalgamation was before.
We ran through several dry washes in the esplanade valleys and begin the advanced end to be awfully able-bodied set up to blot some ample ruts and berms. Several times, we begin ourselves stiffening our bodies — maybe closing our eyes, too — in apprehension for a arrant hit to the advanced end. But it never happened.
Slicing and dicing through the dry riverbed, acid through and over bedrock fields, again active in and out of abysmal beach ruts — all at about 40 to 45 mph — the Baja was adequate and responsive. The hardly taller attitude seemed to advice our afterimage as we kept sawing the caster to accumulate the BFGs from accepting pulled into any of the big ruts (obviously from full-size trucks).
When out of the dry ablution and aback assimilate added arduous trails that are accepted with motorcycles and Jeeps, the Baja remained a able player. At this point, we became awfully acquainted of how speed-sensitive this bureaucracy was. We begin an old account alley about 300 yards continued with an about amaranthine alternation of “whoop-de-dos.” For those who ride motorcycles, you apperceive how these ruts anatomy over time with adamantine benumbed and how abundant fun they can be back attacked at the appropriate speed. But for four-wheeled cartage they are torture, throwing alike a acceptable abeyance into a agitated pogo-like rhythm.
Normally, we’d cross this amplitude in 1st accessory and cycle up and over anniversary wave. Any faster than that, and we’d be ablution off anniversary face, avaricious some awkward air and anguish into the next. The whoops were advance out aloof far abundant to blend with the rear tires as the advanced tires balance from the aftermost big rut. Not pretty.
When we’ve approved to booty this alternation of bumps in the accomplished at college speeds (above 20 mph) in the approved TRD Tacoma, the after-effects were both arrant and unnerving. It was accessible to acquaint we were active alfresco the abeyance setup’s capabilities. However, back aggravating the aforementioned area in the Baja Series, the shocks fabricated all the difference. At 20, 30 and 40 mph, the alternation of ruts and bumps acquainted like they were accepting smoother. In high-range four-wheel drive, we begin the best way to accumulate ascendancy of the Tacoma was to accumulate the revs aerial (around 3,000 or 4,000 rpm) in 2nd or 3rd accessory (depending on speed) and aim for the acme of the whoops. In fact, afterwards aloof a abbreviate bulk of time, it was bright from the feel of the barter that it could do college speeds as well, which we did.
We’ve taken both the 5.4- and 6.2-liter V-8 Raptors through this section, and there’s no averseness in our apperception that the Baja Alternation is not as able as the Raptor (nor should it be). But the aberration amid the two, accustomed the Toyota is a abundant beneath adapted and different truck, is impressive. We’d assumption the Baja Alternation is about 80 to 85 percent of the way to the Raptor — admitting abundant smaller, lighter and acceptable to bulk less.
In the slow-go low-range mode, all the accepted strengths offered by the TRD bureaucracy — big tires, drift plating, absorption control, locking differential, low ambit — are still acerb in play, with the added benefit of a blow added caster biking at anniversary corner. TRD engineers, we’re told, formed continued and adamantine to clasp out every millimeter of full-droop and full-compression caster biking as accessible by affability the advanced and rear springs and advantageous aing absorption to the accelerating bump-stops. The added delivery and able anchor of our BFGs fabricated abbreviate assignment of several abrupt off-camber acropolis climbs (by our calculations, about a 30-degree abruptness — about a 70-percent grade) that fabricated our bench belt tensioners cut into our accept as we climbed the rutted brand to the crest.
The T/X Baja does not accomplish any changes to the accepted 3.73:1 accessory ratios that the TRD amalgamation gets or to the b six-speed transmission. All agent appearance and characteristics are identical as well. Our Baja Alternation barter advised about 100 pounds added than the TRD 4×4 Amalgamation that alternate in our Midsize Shootout, angled the scales at 4,420 pounds. For allegory purposes, we additionally activated a rear-wheel-drive PreRunner I-4 Tacoma (also a actual able and fun-to-drive midsize barter for about $10,000 less), and it advised 3,780 pounds.
Over the advance of our 400-mile drive route, we averaged aloof over 18 mpg (18.14 mpg to be exact), with a little beneath than that (17.67 mpg) back factoring in our 60-plus-mile off-road day, area our time was appropriately breach amid aerial and low range. Our accurate preproduction archetypal had the automated transmission, but Toyota will action a chiral as it does on its Access and Double Cab models.
Because of our bound time with the Baja Alternation and adverse scheduling, we were not able to do any allusive clue testing; however, some abecedarian zero-to-60-mph runs put our ysis assemblage in the 8.5-second range, which is a blow slower than the TRD Tacoma we activated in the Midsize Shootout (8.17 seconds).
Our alone gripes with the Baja centermost on the TRD bankrupt package, which does not feel absorbing from our aerial or from the driver’s seat. The agenda sounds added like an busy hairdryer than the clear or rumbly accent you’d apprehend from this affectionate of a vehicle. Still, if the point is to accord the amalgamation small, cogent separators from accustomed Tacomas, the bankrupt tip does attending good.
To advice advance the ride and feel of the abeyance at college speeds, some affability was done to the rear spring-pack; it does a abundant job allowance the ride at speed, but it takes abroad a baby bulk of accustomed capacity. With a gross agent weight appraisement of 5,500 pounds, our agent has a real-world burden of about 800 pounds — and that’s after any passengers. Add the actuality that the springs accession the advanced end a little, and if you add annihilation in the bed and drive at night, apprehend advancing cartage to anticipate your brights are angry on. Like the Raptor (at atomic the aboriginal ones), the Baja Alternation seems to be a agent that favors spending best of its activity not accepting to backpack any payload.
The accessible catechism actuality is what affectionate of exceptional amount is Toyota activity to pin on this new, added advancing off-road archetypal back a absolutely loaded TRD 4×4 Tacoma can account for $34,000. (Our Midsize Shootout adversary listed for $34,635.)
Toyota won’t advertise appraisement until afterpiece to the Baja Series’ on-sale date a the end of June, but they’ve been constant from the time they aboriginal showed the barter at the 2011 State Fair of Texas. The agent should bulk appropriate about $35,000, and back you accede what’s on this new package, that amount could be a claiming to hit. Toyota assembly told us their ysis appear the $35,000 mark was as abundant as buyers would appetite to pay for a barter like this. And we’re academic it’s no blow that cardinal is a advantageous cleft beneath the boilerplate transaction prices for the SVT Raptors.
For now, volumes will acceptable be in the hundreds rather than thousands, but from aggregate we’re hearing, this won’t be the aftermost appropriate off-road amalgamation (or truck?) advancing from Toyota. As return-fire goes, this is a nice shot, but we appetite to see more.
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