2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro First Drive Review: IsoDynamic seats highlight one rad truck

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro First Drive Review: IsoDynamic seats highlight one rad truck

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SAN DIEGO — The 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro presents a lot of things to talk about, but No. 1 has to be the seats, right? In case you haven’t seen them, the “IsoDynamic” seats in the new TRD Pro have two red shocks on the back, complete with little pressure gauges, in a serious-looking frame with carbon trim and exposed hex bolts. They look incredibly cool; I can totally see someone paying extra for the TRD Pro just to have a truck with seats that look like that. But, they’re a gimmick, right? How much can they possibly do?

Quick answer: Definitely not a gimmick and they actually do quite a lot, even if you don’t realize it, while driving both off- and on-road. How exactly? Each pressurized air reservoir pushes down on oil-filled shocks – one pairing for vertical movement, the other for horizontal movement. A little hand-operated air pump lets you set the air pressure for each reservoir; this can be based on a recommendation from a Toyota app (enter your weight plus the type of off-roading that will be done) or by the old-school method of seeing how much a little rubber O-ring moved during your last off-road foray. There are then little switches at the bottom of each reservoir labeled with on- and off-road icons, but effectively, “on-road” switches the system off by making everything rigid.


I kept them on during my on-road drive from San Diego to the off-road playground the TRD Pro would be more completely tested at (to be fully accurate, I didn’t actually know at the time they could be turned “off”). My first impression of the drive was the TRD Pro had a much better ride than the TRD Off-Road I drove the day prior, or, more specifically, it didn’t suffer from the same wiggling and jiggling over bumps indicative of a body-on-frame vehicle. I initially chalked this up to the TRD Pro’s Fox QS3 Internal Bypass Shocks that are specifically designed to cushion the blow of landing this sucker back down on Earth. But then I drove the TRD Pro on a pock-marked, rock-strewn disaster of a road at 40 miles per hour before launching it airborne. Not only was my landing surprisingly cushioned (what you’d expect those seats to accomplish), I wasn’t violently vibrating with the rest of the truck and my vision was clear. That is what these seats do, and it’s incredible. And don’t just take my word for it.

Les Betchner was one of the off-road driving experts on hand to make sure journalists wouldn’t do anything stupid, while also egging on others (this guy) to gun it on a pock-marked, rock-strewn disaster of a road with a looming jump.

“You can carry on a conversation over the roughest bits of road with them, but no way without. There’d be too much vibration,” he said, literally proving the point while we traversed an off-road trail. He also said there’s a huge difference over jumps/landings and big whoops. “Normal seat springs can’t possibly absorb that energy, but the big shocks can.”

The one downside is the seats are incredibly thick, reducing legroom in a back seat that was hardly spacious to begin with. Otherwise, totally positive. Available in a choice of red or black leather, both with the TRD Pro’s unique camo print, they’re actually incredibly snug, supportive and really comfortable even if you turn the shocks to their on-road “off” position. Should you, though? Tacoma chief engineer Sheldon Brown said he keeps the vertical shock “on” while out in the real world, but noted that sometimes leaving the horizontal shock “on” can make it feel like your seat is scooting a bit in certain situations, like a cloverleaf on-ramp. Either way, you can literally just reach behind you and turn the switches.

That’s not the only manually operated switch aboard the 2024 TRD Pro that makes for more customized off-roading. Take a look under the front suspension, and you’ll notice the little knob poking out from those Fox QS3 shocks you can turn to levels 1, 2 or 3. This “Quick Switch 3” manual adjustment of compression damping basically lets you set the firmness of the shocks to match the terrain. Chief engineer Brown said his on-road suggestion is Level 1, while our whole day of off-roading (including that jump) was accomplished with Level 2. He said Level 3 is “for serious compression,” which is obviously more than the 2 feet of air I got. Yee haw.