2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4X4 Double Cab - What's with that snorkel?

It seemed like there were only two things people noticed about the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4X4 Double Cab - the color and the snorkel. Surprisingly, at least to me, most liked the color. But it was the snorkel that got the most comments. Primarily, "why"?

I'd tell them that the snorkel was so the Tacoma TRD Pro could ford streams. "Really?" was their next question. Well probably not. Toyota calls the snorkel a Desert Air Intake which suggests to me that its intent is to raise the engine air intake up so that it doesn't suck in a lot of dust when running in the desert. If that's the reason it is more of an affectation than a need.

I'm not going to change any minds but I see little use for a 4WD vehicle. Most 4WD vehicles rarely go off road. I once drove to a secluded beach in Northern Ontario in a '62 VW. A local expressed surprise saying that almost no one tries to drive there because the terrain was so difficult that only a few modified off-road vehicles made the trek.

But let's take a look at some numbers for the 2020 Tacoma TRD Pro. Up front is a 3.5-liter, DOHC V6 that puts out 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. The test vehicle had the 6-speed automatic transmission with 4WDemand part-time 4WD. 

The engine felt peppy enough but the low rpm grunt just isn't there. Maximum torque comes in at 4,600 rpm and max horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Below say 3,500 rpm the engine seemed lazy to me.

The Double Cab with the 5' (60.5") bed sits on a wheelbase of 127.4" and has an overall length of 212.3". Five adults can fit inside in comfort.

There is 9.4" of ground clearance with the 265/70R16 all-season tires. All-season tires? Sounds more like a poser to me.

With the auto trans the payload rating is 1,175 lbs. and it can tow up to 6,400 lbs.

The TRD Pro package includes all kinds of good stuff. Some is just visual like the graphics and grille. Then there are the Fox shocks, fog lights, skid plate, TRD wheels, and exhaust.

Extra are the "Desert Air Intake", the graphics, and TRD air filter.

For such a big truck, and make no mistake about it the Tacoma TRD Pro is big, it was fairly agile once I felt at ease with it. One mistake some make about off-road vehicles is that the ride is stiff. To the contrary the suspension must be compliant. So the ride, although not limo like, was comfortable and controlled.

I didn't ever have the need to try the 4WD. It should be easy. There's no more stiff lever to shift the transfer case. There's a twist knob next to the starter button that electronically selects 2WD, 4WD High, or 4WD Low. Couldn't be easier.

The Tacoma TRD Pro is definitely not a spartan work truck. It had all the comforts of home.

There are a few things I'd like to see added. Top of my list would be a pair of the great fold-away running boards. Climbing in and out was a bit much for my old bones. 

Then there is the clearance between the bottom of the steering wheel and the seat cushion - I had to straighten my right leg out or I'd hit my knee (ouch!) on the steering wheel.

Thirdly, and this is only a problem for those of us who drive a variety of vehicles, is the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. On some vehicles the computer will bring the vehicle to a complete stop. On the Tacoma it slows the vehicle to about 5 mph and then shuts off. 

One thing you never see from me is a picture of engines. I remember when you could actually see an engine but those days are long gone. The picture below is what many modern engine compartments look like.

One of my neighbors came over to talk cars. The topic turned to "why aren't there any more manual transmissions." He said he'd been told it was because of emissions. Well not really. Automatic transmissions generally are more fuel efficient. Take the V6 4WD Tacoma. With a 6-speed manual it is rated at 17-mpg city and 20-mpg highway. With the automatic that raises to 18 city and 22 highway. Now in my head I'd prefer the manual transmission but in the real world, what with stop and go traffic, the automatic makes so much more sense. 

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4X4 Double Cab is not inexpensive. Base price is $46,665. Add in options and delivery and it hits $49,679. You do get a full tank of gas with that. For a full list of equipment here's the Monroney - 


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