The Lifted 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Loves to Play In the Mud and Dirt

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The Toyota Tacoma has been one of the best-selling mid-size trucks in automotive history and it’s no secret as to why. With its off-road capability, smooth powertrain, and unrivaled reliability, the Tacoma is an easy choice to make if you need to drive a truck every day.

But did I mention that it’s good off-road? If so, I’m only repeating it because I had the chance to take a 2021 Toyota Tacoma outfitted with the TRD lift kit off the beaten path recently. And I found out quickly how much it likes to play in the mud and dirt.

The Toyota Tacoma’s TRD lift kit is smooth on the road

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road | Joe Santos

RELATED: Is the 2020 Toyota Tacoma Base Model Worth Buying?

After driving the lifted 2021 Toyota Tacoma Off Road around for a week on regular roads, I couldn’t help but notice just how smooth the ride is. The upgraded Bilstein monotube shocks work wonders when it comes to not only raising the ride by two inches in the front – one inch in the rear – but also making the ride stable.

Without the kit, the Tacoma feels like it rocks back and forth a lot, even at slower speeds. But with the kit, and maybe due to the lift, the feeling of the large tires going over uneven pavement and bumps felt muted in comparison. Fortunately, this smoothness translated well off-road.

Going off-road felt natural

a rear shot of the lifted 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road | Joe Santos

RELATED: Which 2020 Toyota Tacoma Trim Is Right for You?

Although a two-inch lift isn’t that much, I felt like I could go anywhere or do anything with the TRD lifted Tacoma. But it was time to put it to the real test by driving through some dirt and mud, much like many Tacoma owners probably do when they’re headed to a favorite fishing spot or campground.

I drove the Tacoma TRD up north to the Boulder, Colo., area to see what it could do. On the way up there, I was greeted by some twisty two-lane roads with a little bit of incline, but the Tacoma handled it all very well. Its 278-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine made quick work of any inclines, thanks to it having plenty of low-end grunt, however, the six-speed automatic transmission did have to hunt for gears upon accelerating out of the turns.

The lifted 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road in a puddle
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road | Joe Santos

That didn’t really matter when I finally hit the dirt, though. I found a nice off-road area filled with puddles, dips, and bumps and I played around it all like a child at a recess. When putting it in either four-high or two-wheel drive and the truck never even came close to getting stuck. I threw the truck into every puddle I could find and went up every incline and no matter what, it seemed like my trusty Tacoma was begging for more.

There weren’t any high rock features to really test out the higher ride height, but I can attest to the fact that it will clear almost anything you drive over in your everyday life.

Does the lift kit need to be higher?

The specs of the TRD lift kit might not be enough for the avid off-road enthusiast, but if you’re only looking to drive on some dirt roads and a few hills, it should suffice just fine. Considering it was a bit of pain to get in and out of the lifted Tacoma, I wouldn’t recommend going any higher if you plan to daily drive it.

But if you have a good place to fling the truck around in the dirt, mud, or even the snow, the TRD lift kit – as well as the Toyota Tacoma – will handle its own just fine.

A side shot of the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road with the TRD lift kit
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road | Joe Santos

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