If you’re looking for a truck that can take you just about anywhere on and off the road and will possibly outlast your lifetime, then the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is a great choice. It has a potent engine, aggressive styling, and enough off-road prowess to make a Baja truck jealous but it also has one surprising feature that’s often overlooked on the spec sheet on the Toyota website.
Get shifty with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
If you have been searching for a truck to take on your weekend off-road excursions, hopefully, the Toyota Tacoma is on your list. And if you need the extra assurance that you’ll be able to get to that remote cabin in the woods, then the TRD Pro package is a good package to opt for. Although, I would hope that you put a truck through its paces by going off some sweet jumps and crawling some rocks. After all, it sure is equipped for that type of driving.
Just like all of the other TRD-fitted rigs in Toyota’s lineup, the Tacoma TRD Pro comes with a TRD skidplate, LED headlights, Rigid Industries LED fog lamps, Fox suspension, TRD hood scoop, and stealthy 16-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain, Kevlar-reinforced tires. But what you might overlook, just I did, is that the Tacoma TRD Pro is also available with a six-speed manual transmission.
Save the manuals!
That’s right, this off-road-capable, zombie-apocalypse-ready Tacoma TRD Pro can be optioned with a manual transmission. It’s surprising because most automakers are phasing out the good old stick shift in favor of quick-shifting dual-clutch transmissions or non-shifting CVTs. However, it was a welcomed sight when the Tacoma was dropped off to me and I couldn’t wait to see what it was like to drive it.
What’s it like to drive a Tacoma with a manual transmission?
My initial impression when it came to working the stick shift in the Tacoma TRD Pro was that it has really long shift throws and a really high engagement point for the clutch. Of course, I can’t really expect a sportscar-like engagement from a massive truck, but it was definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to my Honda S2000. But after a few days of getting used to it, it made total sense.
The long shift throws made me feel like I was driving a semi-truck (but with four fewer gears) and that long pedal travel made for not-so-smooth shifting, but after a short time, I realized that they both work well together, especially when you lower your expectations that the stick shift will make this truck feel “sporty.”
It doesn’t, nor do the long gear ratios, which makes accelerating to shift into the next gear feel like forever and a day. But again, for the wide powerband from the 3.5-liter V6 engine and considering this thing is made for off-road duty, it actually works well together. In fact, I found that the wide gear ratios meant that I could just leave it in third or fourth gear for most of my driving around town and there was sufficient power on tap while keeping the RPMs low.
Is it worth it to get the manual transmission?
The other transmission choice for the Tacoma TRD Pro is a six-speed automatic, which has the ability to get the truck moving through any terrain just fine. However, if you’re a driving enthusiast like myself, I would say that opting for the manual transmission could be well worth it, even if it’s just for the novelty of having a Tacoma TRD Pro with a stick. Otherwise, I can’t say that it adds that much driving excitement to the equation.