The 2019 Ta­coma, Tundra and Fore­run­ner were un­veiled Feb 8th at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show in the teaser for­mat we’ve now come to ex­pect from auto man­u­fac­tur­ers. Let’s start with what we’ve been told. The big­gest news is up­graded sus­pen­sion. The 2019 fam­ily of TRD Pro all ride on 2.5” Fox in­ter­nal by­pass shocks, de­signed and tuned to be bet­ter at high speed offhigh­way driv­ing, slow speed rock crawl­ing and per­haps most im­por­tantly, on high­way driv­ing. Un­for­tu­nately for the Ta­coma this is not new, as it has had the 2.5” Fox shocks for a cou­ple years.

Hope­fully Toy­ota has tuned them for an im­proved high­way ride. The Taco has al­ways had a good off-road ride, but it has been re­cently eclipsed by the per­for­mance of the Colorado ZR2, which is not only a stun­ning per­former off-road in our tests, but was also the best driv­ing mid-size truck on-road, us­ing their ex­clu­sively engi­neered and tuned DSSV shocks.

The front springs give the Taco a 2.5 cm (one-inch) lift and are paired with in­ter­nal by­pass shocks with eight by­pass zones five com­pres­sion and three re­bound zones. The rear shock has eleven zones - seven com­pres­sion and four re­bound, backed up by pro­gres­sive-rate off-road leaf springs.

The truck has a 2.5 cm (one inch) wider stance cour­tesy the off­set of the 16-in TRD black al­loy wheels. Other cos­metic fea­tures in­clude the blacked out grill and black tipped ex­haust pipes.

Only one power op­tion has been men­tioned and that’s the cur­rent 3.5L gas V6 gen­er­at­ing 278 hp and 268 lb ft of torque. This Atkin­son cy­cle en­gine was re­leased in 2015, so while we didn’t ex­pect this gas en­gine op­tion to change, we had hoped for ei­ther the 2.4L I-4 turbo-charged diesel, which gen­er­ates 148 hp (110kW), and up to 295 ft lbs torque (400Nm), or the prefer­ably the 2.8L I-4 turbo-charged diesel that clocks in at 174 hp (130kW) and up to 332 lb ft (450Nm) of torque, both of which Toy­ota of­fers in the Ta­coma’s glob­ally sell­ing big brother - the Hilux.

The most no­tice­able ex­te­rior fea­ture for the Taco is the op­tional fac­tory in­stalled snorkel. Not for im­proved wa­ter ford­ing, although it should help, but mostly as a clean air in­take, get­ting air from above the wind­shield, to avoid most of the dust at wheel level, which clog air fil­ters, re­duc­ing air flow and im­ped­ing per­for­mance. An­other side ben­e­fit is re­duced air fil­ter main­te­nance.

Toy­ota hasn’t pro­vided any fur­ther de­tails on the snorkel but hope­fully it has a pre-fil­ter to cap­ture dust be­fore it gets to the

main air fil­ter. The air in­take is shown in the for­ward fac­ing ram po­si­tion, which helps force air into the en­gine. Hope­fully it can be swiveled 180 de­grees for folks in wet­ter coastal cli­mates, so heavy rain doesn’t get sucked in. There are also cons that go along with a snorkel in­clud­ing hav­ing it ripped off by low branches, re­duced aero­dy­nam­ics and ad­di­tional wind noise driv­ing on the high­way.

Noth­ing else sub­stan­tial was re­vealed un­less you find cos­metic changes sub­stan­tial. The moon­roof will now be stan­dard on 2019 TRD Pro, the cat-back ex­haust gets black tips, there will be black sport bezels on front and rear lights, and the TRD Pro brand­ing will be fea­tured on floor mats, head rests, shifter and ex­te­rior badges.

Although fuel econ­omy, pric­ing, tow­ing and pay­load num­bers haven’t been re­leased, we don’t ex­pect any sig­nif­i­cant

changes from 2018, un­less Toy­ota has an­other pow­er­train up their sleeve, which we don’t ex­pect.

From a per­for­mance stand­point, noth­ing re­vealed so far cre­ates a rea­son to sell or trade-in your old TRD Pro for the 2019 ver­sion, un­less you are still driv­ing the old 4.0L V-6. For less than the de­pre­ci­a­tion it costs to drive a new Ta­coma off the dealer lot, you can go to af­ter­mar­ket parts for a snorkel, and off-set wheels.

The 2019 Tundra TRD Pro also gets the 2.5” Fox shocks which will re­place the Bil­stein shocks from 2018, and Rigid LED fogs to com­pli­ment the LED head­lights. We’ve tested and re­viewed a lot of dif­fer­ent LED lights and Rigid is by far our favourite go-to brand when vis­i­bil­ity goes to crap.

Tundra also gets a new hood scoop, up­dated skid plate and the black-tipped ex­haust pipe, but more im­por­tantly now has Fox ex­ter­nal reser­voir shocks in the rear.

The 4Run­ner has al­ways been one of my favourite SUV’s and the look for 2019 is still 4Run­ner but with even more of a Lexus vibe than be­fore, which is re­fresh­ing as it seems that many SUV’s are be­com­ing in­dis­tin­guish­able Range Rover look-a-likes. The alu­minum roof rack makes sense for an SUV, it gets the 2.5” Fox shocks, TRD badged skid plate, black-tipped ex­haust pipe and new 17” wheels that also have an off-set to give the 4Run­ner a wider stance.

Like the Ta­coma, Tundra and 4Run­ner get premium sound sys­tems, and up­dated in­te­ri­ors with the TRD Pro badg­ing on every imag­in­able sur­face. They come in white and black but only one new colour op­tion is re­ally worth men­tion­ing and that is Voodoo Blue. While we don’t have any im­ages of this on the new trucks, FJ Cruiser fans will re­mem­ber the light blue colour.

While not yet ver­i­fied, you should be able to put a new TRD Pro in your drive­way in the fall of 2018.

While it’s nice to see the re­fine­ments in the Tundra and 4Run­ner, nei­ther truck has a com­mand­ing pres­ence in any mar­ket. The big story for us, or lack of a story, is that the 2019 Ta­coma TRD Pro doesn’t seem to of­fer any­thing sub­stan­tially new. Which begs the ques­tion, do you think the Ta­coma can main­tain it’s po­si­tion as the num­ber one sell­ing com­pact pick-up, against the likes of the Chevy Colorado and the up­com­ing Ford Ranger, or has Toy­ota doomed it to fall?

Will they let the Ta­coma slide into his­tory like the FJ Cruiser, pin­ning their hopes on in­tro­duc­ing the Hilux to the North Amer­i­can mar­ket in the fu­ture?

4Run­ner gets Fox 2.5” shocks. Look for the badged skid­plate on all mod­els in­clud­ing the 4Run­ner

Fox shocks are new to 4Run­ner this year.

Could the Toy­ota Hilux re­place the Ta­coma?

Fac­tory snorkel in the for­ward fac­ing ram air po­si­tion.

This is how you drive the Ta­coma to make full use of the fac­tory snorkel.

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