Tacoma 101 – What’s A PreRunner?

If you’re new to the Tacoma, you might not have heard of a “Tacoma PreRunner,” a specific 2WD Tacoma package offered by Toyota since 1998. Popular because of it’s 4×4 look, the PreRunner is the most common type of 2WD Tacoma you will see.

2011 Tacoma PreRunner with TRD Package

The 2011 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner with the TRD Package

Technically, the word “prerunner” refers to a vehicle that pre-runs an off-road race course. A lot of off-road racers have a designated prerunner that’s very similar to their actual race vehicle, which gives them a chance to run a course without having to ding up their race truck.

However, many off-road race teams have been known to pre-run rental vehicles, dirt buggies, bikes, etc., so the technical definition is pretty “loose.”

The more common definition of the word “prerunner” is a 2WD truck that has a lift kit. The Tacoma PreRunner basically matches this description, but a lot of people build prerunners with long-travel suspensions, 500hp motors, etc.

Basically, the word prerunner means different things to different people…but now you know enough to join the debate.

Mechanical Differences Between PreRunner and Regular Tacoma

For 2005-2010 models, the key differences between a regular Tacoma and a PreRunner are:

  • Width: The PreRunner is about 2″ wider than a regular 2wd
  • Height: The PreRunner is about 2″ taller than a regular 2wd (give or take)
  • More ground clearance: PreRunners have extra 1.5″ (or so) of ground clearance
  • Payload rating: A PreRunner can haul about 200 lbs more than a regular 2wd
  • Better standard tires and wheels: PreRunners come with a more aggressive tire and 16″ wheels instead of 15″ wheels
  • Skid plates: PreRunners have them, regular 2wd’s don’t
  • Taller rear axle: PreRunners come with a 4.10 or 3.73 rear end (V6 has 3.73), whereas regular 2wd’s come with a 3.31 or 3.58 (manual vs. auto)
  • Larger front brakes: PreRunners have 12.56″ diameter front rotors, just about 2″ larger than regular 2wd’s
  • Slightly tighter steering: PreRunners turn just a hair better than regular 2wd’s
  • Same wheels as 4×4 Tacoma: PreRunners have 6 lug wheels, just like the 4×4 Tacoma. Regular 2wds have 5 lug wheels.

Keep in mind that Tacoma ground clearance will very from one truck to the next, so you may find a PreRunner that only has 1″ more of ground clearance and then another one right next to it that has 2″ more.

Also, some PreRunner Access and Double Cabs may not have come with an engine skidplate (although all of them have a transfer case skid plate).


*All info taken from 2005-2010 Toyota Tacoma brochures

  • David Guzman

    I have a 2011 Tacoma Prerunner SR5. Standard OEM 16″ steel wheels. Tires are 245/75/16. Will standard OEM 16″ wheels from a 2010 FJ fit? And can I increase size of my tires to 265/75/16?

  • Ed Tuttle

    I have a 1994 tacoma with 5 lug x l4.5. Will 2011 steel wheel with a 5 lug x 115mm fit my 1994 truck?

    • Ed Tuttle

      The1994 is a 14 inch wheel 2wd. The 2011 is a 15 in 2wd.

  • hugo barron

    what are the mechanical differences between a 2011 and higher prerunner and a regular Tacoma? Also what is an SR5? What does the SR stand for? From what I can tell it seems to be just a cosmetic upgrade – alloy wheels, chrome rear bumper, rear window sliding glass plate, radio controls on the steering wheel. Appears to be same chassis, engine, transmission and frame style/size. Anybody know for sure? Thanx

    • Tim Esterdahl


      The mechanical differences are simply 2wd versus 4wd. There can be some after market modifications done, but that is about it. The SR used to denote a sport model back in the 1970s and 80s, but now just stands for a different trim level.