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Toyota’s Tacoma TRD Pro off-roader is back, and ready to climb every mountain

When the redesigned Toyota Tacoma debuted last year, the TRD Pro off-road model was conspicuously absent from the lineup. Toyota is rectifying that for 2017, with an updated model that debuts this week at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.

While the name may stand for Toyota Racing Development, the TRD Pro isn’t quite as hardcore as, say, a Ford F-150 Raptor or a Ram Power Wagon. But considering that there really isn’t anything directly comparable to those behemoths in the midsize truck segment right now, that’s not much of an issue.

A beefed-up suspension system sets the TRD Pro apart from other Tacoma models. It includes Fox 2.5 internal-bypass shocks, TRD-tuned front springs with a 1.0-inch lift, and TRD-tuned rear suspension bits. All TRD Pro models also get the 4WDemand four-wheel drive system, with an electronically-controlled transfer case and automated limited-slip differential, plus a towing package.

Related: 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road first drive

The TRD Pro rides on Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Kevlar-reinforced tires, with special 16-inch alloy wheels. Other model-specific visual cues include an aluminum front skid plate, LED fog lights, headlights and taillights with black bezels, and TRD Pro badging. The interior gets plenty of TRD badging as well, and features plenty of luxuries like heated leather front seats, navigation, and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with app suite. Who said off-roading had to be tough?

Although Toyota does offer a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine on some Tacoma models, the TRD Pro is only available with the larger 3.5-liter V6. This engine produces 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, and runs on the Atkinson cycle like the engines in many hybrids, to improve efficiency. Models equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission (there’s also a six-speed manual) get Toyota’s Multi-terrain Select system, which alters vehicle behavior for different types of terrain, as well as hill-start assist.

The 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro arrives in showrooms this fall. Pricing will be announced closer to that time.