2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid Blows Away Every Truck In Its Segment

There was a moment where, with all four wheels of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma hybrid hovering through the air, I felt firmly invincible. I was jumping a pickup truck, after all — if I could do that, then by god, I could do anything. With all of its off-road capabilities, the new Taco hybrid is exactly the kind of vehicle that can let you dream big, then hit the trail and actually see those dreams become a reality.

If you’re a pickup truck fan, you know that Toyota introduced a full redesign of the trusty Tacoma for the 2024 model year, and it came with a new body-on-frame TNGA-F platform, stunning bodywork, top-of-the-line features, tons of trim options, and a whole slew of trim and powertrain options to choose from. Earlier in April, I had a chance to test each of the hybrid-powered trims (with the exception of the TRD Sport) before they make their way to their designated truck-buying audience, with each trim being paired to a set of conditions that best suited it. Here’s what I learned.

Full disclosure: Toyota invited me to Coronado Island in San Diego, California for an all-out trip test driving four new or refreshed Toyota models in just two days. It was an impressive display of event organization, though I think I was most taken by the ducklings and flamingos living in the pond outside the hotel. Toyota provided its full slate of hybrid pickups for us to try throughout the weekend.

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid TRD Sport

While I didn’t have a chance to test drive the TRD Sport trim, this does give me an excellent opportunity to note the features that come standard on the Tacoma’s hybrid trims:

  • Toyota’s i-Force Max hybrid powertrain, which pairs a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-4 engine with a 48-hp electric motor

  • 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque (a 75-percent boost in torque compared to the V6 in the Taco’s previous generation)

  • 8-speed automatic transmission

  • 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system

  • Part-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case

  • Active traction control

  • Hill-start assist control

  • Drive modes including Normal, Eco, and Sport; and Tow/Haul settings

  • Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 driver-assist stuite

2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid TRD Off-Road

Toyota had us take the TRD Off-Road trim out on a course it called the “playground,” which lived up to its name. This was a fairly straightforward off-road loop that featured massive elevation changes, sharp turns, and some simple rocky outcrops to offer a sense of what’s possible for even the more base trims of these hybrid trucks. In addition to the features listed above, you can opt for an available front stabilizer disconnect mechanism that offers an impressive amount of suspension articulation, as well as an electronically locking rear differential, monotube Bilstein remote reservoir shocks, and an end stop control valve to increase damping force.

I was impressed with the hybrid TRD Off-Road and its performance on the playground loop. This is a well-rounded can-do trim that’s got just enough of the good stuff to make it a really great vehicle for folks like me, who live in rural Texas. It’s a great truck for running to the grocery store, but it can also capably handle the tight, rutted, one-lane rural roads that make up the region I live in. For what it’s worth, this is also the Tacoma trim I’ve seen most in the driveways of the ranchers near my house — and if the previous generation V6 has left that much of an impression, I’m sure the even more powerful turbo hybrid will further define the Tacoma’s legacy as a no-nonsense, capable truck.

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid Limited

If you want a nice road-going truck that can also capably hit the trail when you get the occasional off-road itch, then you’ll best benefit from the Limited trim. I had a chance to drive this trim a few times, since it regularly ended up as my shuttle from Coronado Island to Vogt Ranch.

Since this isn’t an off-road–specific trim, the Limited is a little different than the other models on this list. It’s a premium vehicle with full-time four-wheel drive, an electronic locking center differential, adaptive variable suspension that continually adjusts to road conditions, and additional drive Sport S+ and Comfort drive modes, along with a Custom drive mode that owners can curate themselves. Inside, you get heated and ventilated synthetic leather seats, a head-up display, walnut-look accents, a 14-inch touchscreen, a premium JBL sound system, a digital rearview mirror and a power moonroof.

The Limited was a great on-road machine. There’s a little bit of turbo whine that makes its way into the cabin, but I’m pretty certain the only reason I focused on that sound is because everything else felt easy. As a mid-size pickup, the Tacoma doesn’t feel too big to serve as a comfortable highway driver. It also boasts responsive handling, rapid get-up-and-go acceleration, and enough visibility that it made both congested San Diego traffic and sharp mountain turns feel equally comfortable.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid TRD Trailhunter

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

If you’re looking for a from-the-factory overlanding rig, Toyota will have just the right option to meet your needs. Newly created for this new generation, the Trailhunter model is the one Taco trim that’s only available on the hybrid models. It’s wholly designed with long-distance off-road trips in mind, which means it includes standard Old Man Emu monotube shocks, a low-profile high-mount air intake, 33-inch Goodyear Territory Rugged-Terrain tires with 18-inch bronze-finish alloy wheels, and tons of neat aesthetic features like Toyota’s bronze heritage-inspired grille.

Also standard are features like part-time four-wheel drive, an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case, and a front stabilizer disconnect mechanism, all of which are designed to make your ride as capable as it is comfortable. You can select different terrain options in both 4WD-High and 4WD-Low, and you can use Crawl Control to serve as your off-road version of cruise control.

These capabilities alone are fantastic. We had a chance to take the Trailhunter out for a slow cruise around a very technical off-road loop that featured steep inclines, sharp rocks and river fording, where the trim proved itself as an immensely adept off-roader. But I have to give a special shout-out to the Multi-Terrain monitor, which shows you multiple camera angles all around the exterior of the truck to help you best position the truck for oncoming obstacles. There’s one key difference in this Multi-Terrain Monitor when compared to the one in the Land Cruiser: In the Tacoma, it features shadows of your tires.

In the Land Cruiser, the additional camera views displayed on the infotainment screen were really helpful, but I also felt that it’d take me a while to get used to the dimensions of the vehicle as translated on a wide-lens camera shot of the path in front of me. The Tacoma eliminates that learning process entirely by simply featuring two black shadows designed to represent your tires, which gives you an immediate sense of where your truck is aiming and what you might run into. That’s a huge benefit for folks who aren’t super familiar with the whole off-roading thing, or for those of us who are often too short to peer around the bodywork of a big ol’ truck.

Toyota refers to both the Trailhunter and the TRD Pro trims as “halo” trims, which means they’re both designed to sit at the very top of the Tacoma lineup. However, they’re designed to serve more specific needs. The TRD Pro trim is inspired by high-speed Baja racing, which prioritizes a lightweight machine that’s well suited for rapid jaunts across the desert. It’s not perfectly suited for the slower pace of overlanding, which often also involves a truck weighed down with supplies. As the overlanding trend continues to grow, Toyota decided that it needed a trim like the Trailhunter to help cater to that specific market — and it’s a winner.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid TRD Pro

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

For a capable truck that can do just about anything — including launching through the air — then you need to look at the TRD Pro trim. This is the top-of-the-line offering for the Taco hybrid, and the hybrid powertrain is standard here (though you can opt for a purely combustion engine if you choose). You’re getting a ton of great off-road tech, but there’s one component I want to highlight: the front seats.

For this trim, Toyota is introducing standard IsoDynamic Performance Front Seats — that is to say, seats that have a built-in air-over-oil shock absorber system. These seats are designed to reduce all that jostling around you do when you’re bumping along the trail, and they absolutely rip.

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

Let me illustrate the capabilities of those seats with a story. One of the TRD Pro models at Toyota’s test day had an IsoDynamic seat for the driver, but not for the passenger. During his first few laps of the high-speed test course, stunt-driver-turned-off-road-Toyota-instructor Art Haynie told me he had the misfortune of riding shotgun in one of those standard seats — but he didn’t know it. When it came time for him to drive, he joked with me that he thought he must have been a way better driver than the guy who took him out for those initial laps, since the ride was so much smoother. It wasn’t until later that he learned it was a seat issue, not a skills issue.

I haven’t done a ton of high-speed off-roading, but I’ve done just enough that I have a healthy, slightly terrified respect for the discipline. It takes a lot of effort to maintain high speeds over bumpy terrain when you’re being rattled around in your seat, but after jumping the Tacoma TRD Pro, careening it through a banked turn, and flying through hairpins, I was pretty damn confident that I could win the Baja 1000 tomorrow — as long as I was driving a Tacoma TRD Pro. Even relative novices like myself can master the finer points of high-speed off-roading with those damn seats.

Also specific for the TRD Pro are other standard off-road upgrades like FOX QS3 adjustable shocks with rear remote reservoirs that have been specially tuned for the Tacoma, a performance air intake, and 33-inch Goodyear Territory Rugged-Terrain tires with 18-inch black alloy wheels. On the looks side of things, you can opt for a TRD Pro–specific paint shade, as well as two-tone paint. You’ll have a ground clearance of 11.5 inches, along with 35.7-degree approach, 24.6-degree breakover and 22.6-degree departure angles, which are specific to this trim.

Let’s Talk About Mid-Size Pickups

I’ll be entirely honest — I can’t think of a more impressive mid-size pickup on the market than the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, and these hybrid powertrain options make an already-great machine even better. The updated Tacoma feels truly generational thanks to its wholesale improvements in everything from aesthetics to suspension, while the hybrid options provide a big boost in power. Toyota offers more trims and a more diverse array of powertrains than its competitors in the mid-size truck market, and this new Tacoma generation will force other automakers to reevaluate just what makes a good truck.

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

Not Ready For The Hybrid Revolution?

Toyota is well aware that the jump to electrification might not appeal to all of its loyal customers, which is why you can still nab a full slate of trims powered by its turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-4, untouched by the addition of a battery and electric motor as an integral part of the powertrain. In that configuration, you’ll have access to cheaper, more base-level trims, like the SR, SR5, and TRD PreRunner. Unless your purchase is primarily dictated by cost, though, I think prospective Taco buyers will likely appreciate the boost in capability offered by the more advanced hybrid trims.

Other trims, like the TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited all come with the option for the standard four-cylinder or the turbo hybrid, but you’re looking at a decrease in power if you go for conventional combustion. With non-hybrid power, you’ll max out at 278 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque on your Taco; bump up to the hybrid, and you’re looking at 326 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. If you want the all-new Trailhunter trim, though, your only option is the hybrid powertrain.

Full pricing for the Tacoma Hybrid trims haven’t been released yet, but Toyota did tell us that the MSRP for the base-level hybrid TRD Sport trim should start just under $48,000, including handling fees. Expect the ultra-capable TRD Pro to start somewhere in the mid- to high-$60,000 range.

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