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2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO Wins Coveted Mid-Size Truck of Texas Award

After two days of stiff competition on rocky terrain and open roads, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro was voted as the Mid-Size Truck of Texas by the more than 70 members of Texas Auto Writers Association on hand. While Toyota Tacoma fans may think this title was a lock, the competition was a lot tougher than anticipated and the rousing response to the victory by the Toyota team showed how much this award means to automakers.

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO Wins Coveted Mid-Size Truck of Texas Award

A BIG win for the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

The competition was held at the Longhorn River Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas and featured 82 vehicles for the journalists to drive (note: I am one of the journalists and voting members). For the mid-size category, Toyota brought 3 versions of their TRD Pro, Honda brought two Ridgelines, Nissan had a Frontier and GMC brought the Denali version of their Canyon.

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO Wins Coveted Mid-Size Truck of Texas AwardOver the course of two days, journalists logged hundreds of drives in each of these vehicles on both an on-street road and 3 different off-road courses. These off-road courses were pretty varied and the off-road 3 course was exceptionally tricky. It should be noted the Toyota Tacoma was one of the few vehicles able to tackle the trail and Chief Engineer Mike Sweers was quick to point out the Tacoma could do it in 2wd mode only. (this says a lot since the Ram Power Wagon was in 4 lo throughout the course).

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO Wins Coveted Mid-Size Truck of Texas Award

It may be easy to discount the Honda Ridgeline at first glance, but there is more than meets the eye.

With this kind of course and setup, the Tacoma TRD Pro seemed liked a lock, however, the Honda Ridgeline really held its own even on the off-road 3 course. Frankly, it changed my perception of the unibody truck and many other journalists as well. And by the way, it does have a frame with numerous crossmembers. This additional rigidity along with a truly 4-wheel independent suspension allows the truck to maneuver over obstacles while still offering the bed of a truck. Its off-road prowess along with its comfortable ride and comfortable cabin were really challenges to the Tacoma.

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO Wins Coveted Mid-Size Truck of Texas Award

GMC goes really upscale in the new Canyon Denali. The question is: will customers put out the money for it?

Also, the GMC Canyon Denali made its first driving debut to journalists. The cabin is quite luxurious and GMC nailed all the little touches. Plus, the quiet cabin, 4G LTE WiFi and smooth ride are really interesting marketing angles for the traditional truck market. There is just a lot to like about how it feels and rides, however, the low-hanging air dam design really holds it back.

Finally, the Nissan Frontier was a big hit for nearly everyone. Sure it is outdated and the powertrain setup is way off on the low-end gears, but it is still a fun drive.

While Sweers issued this quote from a press release:

“As America’s best-selling mid-size pickup for ten years running, the recognition as Mid-size Pickup Truck of Texas confirms our vision of producing a truck that can tackle any off-road challenge,” said Mike Sweers, Tacoma chief engineer. “Toyota’s commitment to the new Tacoma TRD Pro was focused on meeting the needs of adventure-seekers where roads fear to tread, and we have proven that today.”

I can tell you he, and the entire Toyota team, was ecstatic to win this award. Quite often Toyota products don’t get a lot of love from automotive journalist groups and taking home awards is a great honor. Expect to see this award mentioned in various marketing efforts and on display at the San Antonio, Texas facility.

  • Gene

    Good for you Toyota. While I still love my 2016 TRD Sport 4by4 long bed. Many of us 3rd Gen owners have been having “fits” with our 6 speed auto trans. While Toyota did provide us with a “TSB” update and this update did resolve some “surging” issues and inconsistencies with this tranny. Many of us (post TSB) still struggle with many problems with this 6 speed auto. I can only hope Toyota Corprate is watching/reading threads on “Tacoma World” and hopefully getting ready to release a statement about how they can help us with our “new” Tacoma. All of is that are still struggling with the “transmission” problem want to love our new Tacos but with little help from Toyota and very little support (acknowledgement that there is a problem) from our dealers we are just about at are end…

  • Gene

    Good for you Toyota. While I still love my 2016 TRD Sport 4by4 long bed. Many of us 3rd Gen owners have been having “fits” with our 6 speed auto trans. While Toyota did provide us with a “TSB” update and this update did resolve some “surging” issues and inconsistencies with this tranny. Many of us (post TSB) still struggle with many problems with this 6 speed auto. I can only hope Toyota corporate is watching/reading threads on “Tacoma World” and hopefully getting ready to release a statement about how they can help us with our “new” Tacoma. Many of us still struggle with “transmission” problems and want to love our new Tacos but with little help from Toyota and very little support (acknowledgement that there is a problem) from our dealers we are just about at are end…

    • testerdahl1

      Interesting comment. I need to look again at TSBs and post some articles. Thanks for the reminder!

      -Tim

      • Gene

        Btw 1st TBS is no longer available, Toyota I’m told is working on
        another… 1st TBS lasted 1000 to 1500 miles and went back to a
        searching gear monster. Why the heck did Toyota put a undersized car
        motor in this truck beyond me!?!?

        Consider the following

        Lexus GS 350………..311 HP @ 6400 RPM powered by premium fuel….8
        speed trans. Better fuel economy than Tacoma………….no searching
        for gears

        Tacoma ……………….278 HP @6000 RPM powered by regular fuel……6 speed trans. Less fuel economy

        Than GS……….gear searcher

        Both vehicles are powered by same engine 2 GR-FKS

        Tacoma curb wt. double cab V6 Auto. 4X4, 4425.

        Lexus Curb.wt. 350 GS V6 Auto. RWD, 3891.

        Moral to this story, a passenger car engine should remain in a car, not
        transplanted in a truck,I have owned both, the 350 was quick without
        searching for gears.

        Based on the evidence many Tacoma owners have experienced, it appears Toyota has regressed on the way to the future.

        Not to be fooled, Toyota has a problem that must be corrected, we the
        Tacoma owners are the field testers. Toyota will resolve the drivetrain
        issues ……….sooner than later hopefully.

        I have a brand new (latest date code) transmission, and the latest code
        as of last week. I can tell you, there is some improvement, however,
        there is more work to be done on the valve body, TCU code and the Engine
        Management code. I spoke to Toyota today (not the customer service
        number) and they are working diligently on both the hardware and the
        code. The fix (that we see) will likely be in the code. Later models,
        perhaps 2018 or 2019, may see better valve bodies or a new transmission
        all together.