I set out about a decade ago to find the perfect rig to get you out to the field to hunt or fish. I’m finding that there might not be one single vehicle that’s perfect for everything, especially if that ride has to double as your daily driver.
But I keep trying, anyway. If nothing else, it allows me to drive new trucks and SUVs every couple of weeks.
The latest contender was the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road. The Tacoma platform is a compact pickup, so it’s not as roomy as a full-size truck. But it’s bigger inside than it looks from the outside, especially with the Double Cab configuration, like the one I drove. The Double Cab gives you four doors, and a few extra inches of leg room in the back seat.
The back seat’s still pretty tight for full-grown humans, especially if the people in the front have the seats all the way back, but those back seats also fold down to give you more storage space in the cab. The Tacoma I drove also had the six-foot bed, rather than the shorter five-foot bed. With Toyota’s proprietary tonneau cover, everything I put in that bed stayed dry and secure, too.
But the real sweet features of this truck come along with the TRD Off-Road package. That package comes with the Crawl Control, which I’ve talked about before. In four-wheel-drive high, it gives you terrain-specific control settings, making it easier to navigate mud, rock, snow and ice, or other tricky situations. In four-wheel-drive low range, it allows you to lock in your speed between about one and a half miles and hour and five miles an hour. It’s like cruise control for off-roading.
Overall, the Tacoma TRD Off-Road is a very capable, comfortable vehicle, and at about $42,000, it’s more affordable than many of its closest competitors.