Toyota’s 2019 TRD Pro models are a triple threat of off-road capability

While trucks like the Ford F-150 Raptor and Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 tend to draw more attention, Toyota’s TRD (short for Toyota Racing Development) off-road models have a distinguished pedigree. Introduced in 2014, the trio of TRD vehicles offer just about as much off-road capability as most buyers want. The entire lineup is getting an upgrade for the 2019 model year.

The 2019 Toyota TRD Pro models were introduced at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. As before, the Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner get the TRD Pro treatment. For 2019, all three come equipped with new 2.5-inch Fox Racing internal-bypass shock absorbers, as well as a handful of other off-road goodies.

Toyota claims the new shock absorbers balance off-road performance with a cushy ride. The shocks’ internal-bypass zones allow the stiffness of the suspension to be finely calibrated while keeping all of the hardware compact. All three TRD Pro vehicles also get model-specific tires: Goodyears for the Tacoma, Michelins for the Tundra, and Nittos for the 4Runner.

The Tacoma TRD Pro receives what is probably the coolest upgrade of all: a snorkel. These are widely available on the aftermarket, but are rarely installed on vehicles straight from the factory. A snorkel raises the engine’s air-intake point, which usually comes in handy when fording bodies of water. Toyota didn’t mention that usage, but did say the Tacoma’s snorkel helps stop the truck from ingesting silt and dust in the desert.

Both the Tacoma and Tundra also get TRD-specific exhaust systems, while the 4Runner gets a new roof rack. All three models will sport new front skid plates with red “TRD” lettering, and plenty more TRD badging elsewhere. Other notable upgrades include LED headlights and fog lights for the Tundra, and new JBL audio systems for the Tacoma and 4Runner.

It may not be familiar to many people, but Toyota Racing Development is the real deal. Started in 1979, it’s got multiple Baja 1000 and other off-road race victories to its credit, and is currently responsible for Toyota’s NASCAR program. Toyota just hasn’t made as much of an effort to channel that racing experience into road cars as some of its rivals have their with their performance divisions.

The 2019 Toyota TRD Pro models hit showrooms this fall. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date.