Who’s afraid of a little mud? Not Toyota Motor Corp., which unveiled three off road-inspired light trucks Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show, showing off the automaker’s more rugged side.
The three 2018 models – the Tundra TRD Sport, Sequoia TRD Sport and RAV4 Adventure – will go on sale beginning in September.
TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development, the brand’s performance arm that develops upgraded equipment for increased sportiness. The new TRD Sport models create an additional level of performance for Toyota, more capable than the standard Tundra and Sequoia but not as aggressive as the TRD Pro trims found on the Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner.
The new Tundra and Sequoia TRD Sport feature TRD Sport Tuned Bilstein Shocks and TRD anti-sway bars both front and rear – increasing the vehicles’ ability to handle rough terrain. Both the pickup and SUV will be powered by a 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine, and are available in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
“Being able to offer special editions of various trucks does seem to be helping generate buzz and interest and image for the vehicle,” said Stephanie Brinley, analyst for global market research firm IHS Markit. “In some respects it’s not unlike a sports car segment. Sports cars also tend to introduce myriad special editions and focused models. So, within the capabilities that trucks can do, Toyota is able to offer a variety of cases.”
Toyota also offers TRD Off-Road, Sport and Pro packages on several models that provide varying degrees of additional performance. Nearly 50 percent of all Tundra and Tacoma models that are sold include some kind of TRD package, according to Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
“When we introduced TRD Pro a couple years ago, I don’t think we quite anticipated it would have the overall success it’s had,” Fay said. “It’s really built a great halo over our pickup trucks and now into our sport utility vehicles. It provided great reinforcement to the image of our products in the marketplace. I think it’s added a dimension of fun and utility and durability.”
The RAV4 Adventure is an even more radical departure from its conservative roots. The family crossover now sports a higher ride height and upgraded suspension. All four corners are punctuated by exaggerated fenders and black 18-inch alloy wheels.
Upgrades to the radiator, supplemental engine oil and transmission fluid coolers help the RAV4 Adventure push new limits in more extreme conditions. Front-wheel drive versions sport an Automatic Limited-Slip Differential, which controls wheel spin and enhances performance. RAV4 Adventures with all-wheel drive feature Dynamic Torque Control, sending more power to the front or rear wheels when needed.
“It broadens the appeal of Toyota, having that dimension of the adventure grade,” Fay said. “I think it helps connect some of the pieces to people and helps with our overall success.”
Pricing for the new models will be announced closer to their release this fall.