2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Hauling Test: We will rock you

It’s Monday, which means you’d normally be finding a new Luggage Test here on Autoblog. Sadly, I had several vehicles in February that didn’t need luggage testing, which means I have nothing to toss six suitcases into today. But that doesn’t mean I can’t offer up an alternative …

I think it’s safe to say that the Toyota Tacoma is better known for the places it can take you than the stuff that it can haul. It’s more of an adventure rig than a work rig … well, except for all the old ones running around Southern California with beds filled to the brim with lawnmowers and rakes. 

So, instead of seeing if this 2024 Tacoma TRD Off-Road with the 5-foot bed can live up to its billing on a dirty, rocky trail, I decided to indeed put it to work. I had been wanting to install a drainage rock creek for some time, and having the new Tacoma seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wouldn’t need as much rock as I did when I maxed out an F-150 building a rock garden/dog run in Portland, so it seemed like something the Tacoma could handle. 

Tacoma at Patagonia Building SupplyTacoma bed loaded with rock

Still, I had to be careful. We are talking about rocks here. Luckily, Patagonia Building Supply here in Agoura Hills, Calif., could tell me exactly how much the rocks in question would weigh. The 10 75-pound bags of river rock was obvious, as were the two 50-pound sacks of pea gravel. The bigger rocks I picked out were then priced per pound, so I’d know exactly how much they’d weigh. The grand total was 1,111 pounds. 

The Tacoma’s maximum payload is listed as between 1,380 and 1,705 pounds for the 4×4 Double Cab. I’m honestly not sure where the TRD Off-Road falls in that range, but the important thing was that my rock amount was well south of the bottom number. I also weigh considerably less than 269 pounds. 

Loading at Patagonia couldn’t have been easier … in that I anticipated doing a lot more lifting. The nice chap working there pulled up with a forklift, raised a pallet up to bed level, climbed onto the bed and moved the bigger rocks in one at a time. I helped too, cause I was there. We were very careful in putting them down because this was a pre-production unit with flimsy scratch-prone black plastic inside and outside the truck. I’m assuming that includes this bed lining, because if this is the production lining, it must be more robust than it seems. Either way, it survived unscathed. We then loaded the 12 bags of other rocks aboard, which was more than enough to sag the Tacoma’s butt toward the ground.

Tacoma suspension droop when loaded

Apart from the nose noticeably being pitched upward and with less suspension compression over a speed bump, I can’t say I noticed much of a change in the way the Tacoma drove. True, I didn’t do full-throttle acceleration run, but neither the powertrain nor the suspension seemed strained. 

Once at home, I immediately got tired of hauling each 75-pound bag out of the bed, dropping it on my wagon-like wheelbarrow,  lugging it up to my “river” and lifting it off the wagon. Too many steps/lifts. 

“Well to hell with this,” I said looking at my horrible patchy lawn destined to be dug up someday. I jumped into the Tacoma, pulled it around to my driveway, split the uprights between tree and wife’s Niro, and parked the Tacoma mid-hill. I must say, the contrast of orange truck and green house makes for a fun picture. 

At this point, I must say that it would be nice if the Tacoma had some sort of step to aid in climbing into the bed. Sure, it’s a midsize truck and such assist steps are typically found in full-size trucks, but it’s not midsize because of height. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tacoma’s tailgate is higher off the ground than the Tundra Long-Bed I tested. Even if it was just a corner step, it would be appreciated. Oh, and the Colorado and Canyon have them. 

Taco on the lawnTaco on the lawn rearTacoma with mulch and a boy in the bed

With the rocks successfully unloaded, I would eventually head back to Patagonia for one more 75-pound bag. Doing so meant driving straight off my lawn and off the full curb, which was incredibly satisfying. I don’t know why. Doing something normally verboten like driving the full-length across a lawn is inherently fun?

A few days later I would be back onto the lawn after stopping by Lowe’s to pick up eight bags of mulch to finish up the job. My son did a bang-up job supervising despite inclement conditions. 

He would be rewarded the next day by taking part in the next part of this test: Volkswagen hauling!

Tacoma with E Buggy in the bed

You see, our road is quite hilly, meaning it’s been tricky for him to learn how to drive his Volkswagen E Buggy he got for Christmas. Uphill, speeds are OK. Downhill, “it’s too crazy,” as he says. So, he needed some flat-ground practice, which meant lugging the E Buggy to a park. Now, it’ll easily fit in (name an SUV), but not without lowering the back seats of two-row models. That means I can’t install his child seat, which defeats the purpose of driving the E Buggy somewhere. Anywho, that’s just a long-winded way of saying “The Tacoma easily held a child’s ride-on electric car, because duh.”

So there you have it. Hardly a torture test, but damn it, I put the new Tacoma to work. 

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