A Stock Second-Gen Toyota Tacoma Is Surprisingly Good Around a Rally Course

This truck has a V6 engine, four-wheel-drive, and a six-speed manual, making it a blast on the gravel track.

byCaleb Jacobs|
Toyota News photo

Team O'Neil Rally School in New Hampshire is home to more fun than Disneyland with a fleet of purpose-built machinery meant to tackle ice, snow, and gravel at speed. But what happens when you aren't in a real-steel rally car and instead have to make do with an average daily driver? That's what the crew is currently figuring out with its Will It Rally? video series, in which racing veteran Wyatt Knox most recently tested a stock second-gen Toyota Tacoma around a winding back-road course.

Knox has hilariously tested other left-field autos at Team O'Neil's rally course including a Chevy Astro Van and Dodge Charger police car, so we've come to expect some high-speed thrills from unlikely sources. However, despite the Tacoma weighing around two tons and having four full doors, it actually shows the most promise with its four-wheel-drive, punchy V6 engine, and manual transmission.

The truck in question here is a factory TRD Off-Road model, made from 2005-2015, that features a locking rear differential, Bilstein shock absorbers, and underbody skid protection, among other nifty four-wheeling features. You won't find any aftermarket modifications to this truck, at least any that affect performance, so it's a perfect blank-slate to measure the platform's aptness for sliding around tight rally circuits. 

First off, Knox is impressed with how quick the Tacoma is—that's thanks in part to a 236-horsepower 4.0-liter, which propels the mid-size pickup to a sub-10-second zero-to-60 sprint on gravel. After checking the acceleration, he also tests out essentials like braking performance and turn-in ability. As it turns out, the Tacoma is actually shaping up to be a formidable rally truck.

You can see the 'Yota hustle around the driving school's designated test course with plenty of body roll, which is to be expected on stock, do-it-all suspension. A camera provides a view of Knox's footwork as he left-foot brakes and clutch-kicks the Tacoma from one turn to another, complimenting its agility in the process. Even then, a set of all-season road-compound tires held it back from being an excellent performer on gravel.

When Knox's run was finished, he measured a time of 2:02.94—about two and a half seconds faster than the Hemi V8-powered Dodge Charger patrol cruiser. If the Tacoma had been fitted with proper tires and undergone a bit of weight-shedding, he thinks it could've gone a few seconds faster, putting it right up there as a surprisingly quick rally machine.

Make what you will out of this info, but in the meantime, we'll be searching our local classifieds for an off-road-thrashing pickup of our own.