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by Michael Hines
Toyota's smallest pickup has unsurprisingly become a favorite of off-road racers.
Most trucks are designed to be driven off-road, but trucks handle rocky and rugged terrain better than others. Case in point: the Toyota Tacoma. The iconic Taco has become a favorite of off-roaders looking for a dependable truck that won't take crap from even the roughest of terrain. The tuned Tacomas featured here are some of the most off-road-ready pickups around. These trucks aren't designed for speed-save for the Tacoma RTR-but they're more than capable of holding their own when the road gives way to the sand/desert.
Oakley and Toyota teamed up to turn the Tacoma into the ultimate surfer's truck. The redone Taco sports a Stage 3 Lift Kit along with bigger wheels and tires, an Oakley graphics package, Vision X lights and a unique roof rack that also doubles as a small kitchen. (A cooler and a barbecue are located there.) Additionally, the roof rack slides out to provide shade from the sun. A TRD supercharger was added to account for the extra weight.
The Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series proved was such a big hit at SEMA 2011 that Toyota decided to take it from concept to reality. The $4,365 add-on package has everything you need to conquer the Baja 1000, including an electronically-controlled locking rear differential, Downhill Assist Control, Hill-Start Assist Control, Active Traction Control, a stiffer suspension, bigger tires and a cat-back exhaust. All those things are of course worthless without the awesome graphics on the rear.
The Long Beach Racers Tacoma was actually designed to race in the 2011 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The SEMA 2011-debut was outfitted with a TIG-welded, SCORE-approved roll cage, 16-inch TRD Baja wheels, CMI carbon-fiber skidplates, an MBRP exhaust system and a TDR Big Brake kit. Unfortunately, an aftermarket gear set in the rear differential failed, knocking the Tacoma out of the race.
Toyota dropped the supercharged 5.7-liter V8 from a Tundra into a Tacoma for SEMA 2011. The resulting beast pushes 504hp and 550 lb-ft of torque and is named the Tacoma RTR Concept. The RTR is great, but you have to wonder how fast it would go had Toyota showed some Nissan-like initiative and dropped the LFA's engine into its smallest pickup.