2018 Chicago Auto Show Introduces 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Truck

March 3, 2018 Updated: March 4, 2018

The Chicago Auto Show, the largest auto show in North America, opened this year at McCormick Place with a run from Feb. 10 to 19. The show floor provided more than one million square feet of production, concept, and exotic-vehicle exhibit space.

Nearly a thousand of the latest cars, trucks, and SUVs were put on display. Every major car manufacturer that produces or sells cars for the U.S. market was represented in Chicago.

During the two days of media previews, from Feb. 8 to 9, manufacturers like Toyota, Ford, Nissan, VW, Jeep-Ram, Hyundai, Subaru, Fiat, Kia, Mazda, Acura, BMW, and Volvo formally presented their vehicles, highlighting those they felt needed media attention.

For me, of all of the vehicles presented or observed, the Toyota product line was the most impressive. Toyota has been a part of the automotive history of the United States and North America for 60 years.

In North America, Toyota has produced more than 36 million cars and trucks and operates 14 manufacturing plants, employing more than 47,000 people. Then of those plants are in the United States, employing more than 37,000 people. A truck plant is located in my home state of Texas. As well, Toyota’s national headquarters is in Dallas.

In the United States, Toyota’s nearly 1,500 dealerships sold 2.4 million cars and trucks in 2017. The 1,800 dealerships in North America combined sold more than 2.7 million cars and trucks in 2017. About 87 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold in the last 15 years are still on the road.

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The interior of the Tacoma TRD Pro. (Courtesy of Toyota)

Ultimate Off-Road Performance

At the Chicago Auto Show, Toyota focused on the next generation of 4Runner, Tundra, and Tacoma, spiced up by the engineers at Toyota Racing Development (TRD). The 2019 TRD Pro lineup typifies ultimate off-road performance. I fell in love with the Tacoma TRD Pro.

Those talented development engineers started back in 1979 developing chassis, engines, and parts designed for Toyota products. The Tacoma TRD is one of those products that are great off-road powerhouses; whether desert or mountain, no path means a new path.

The TRD discoveries were developed originally by Toyota engineers for off-road races and championships. Some of these sport-derived accessories are now found on Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks.

The suspension is key to any off-road adventure. The entire 2019 TRD Pro family rides on 2.5-inch TRD Pro-exclusive Fox Internal Bypass shocks. These aluminum-bodied Fox shocks are tuned by engineers specifically for each vehicle.

Traditionally, off-road race vehicles have extended bypass tubes on their shock bodies to fine-tune damping pressure. Yet each high-tech Fox shock compactly incorporates bypass zones, offering a cushioned plush ride during typical operation, but progressively stiffens through the shock stroke to provide excellent bottoming resistance.

The front shocks don’t operate alone, as they are paired with specially tuned TRD springs designed for excellent ride comfort. They also produce additional lift, giving each TRD Pro an aggressive, heightened stance for improved “trail-conquering capability.” High-temperature shock fluid combined with nitrogen gas pressure is employed inside each Fox shock to improve “bump compliance” and help maintain life.

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TRD Pro-exclusive Fox Internal Bypass shock. (Courtesy of Toyota)

One of the most eye-catching upgrades available for the Tacoma is the all-new TRD Desert Air Intake. Designed for all off-road vehicles, the new feature is devised to sustain consistent off-road performance no matter how salty or dirty the terrain gets.

Installing the TRD Desert Air Intake moves the 278 horsepower, 3.5 L V6 engine intake away from the dust that hovers inside the front wheel wells (where traditional intakes are located) during off-road operation. This allows for air ingestion to occur in a cleaner space above the windshield, thus helping to benefit filter longevity and ultimately engine health.

All I can say is, if you want to go places, the Tacoma TRD Pro is the vehicle with the perfect tools to get you there and back.

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or at dcaussey@sbcglobal.net.