2024 Toyota Tacoma i-Force Max Hybrid: Feed Me Tacos and Tell Me About Crawl Control

The 2024 Toyota Tacoma comes with a robust iForce MAX engine, agile suspension and an abundance of tech that elevates the off-roading experience. Your power Taco has arrived.

The 2024 Toyota Tacoma Trd Pro Iforce Max.
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro with iFORCE MAX hybrid engine. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Toyota, you had me at Tacos…Tacomas, that is!

For a few gorgeous days in early April, Toyota invited me to get behind the wheel of some brand new 2024 Tacomas that are rolling out today on none other than “Taco Tuesday.” But these are not the Toyota Tacos we saw earlier this year when we first test drove the redesigned 2024 Toyota Tacoma. These are new on the Tacoma menu: trucks with Toyota’s i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine. This is what we got a delicious taste of; I was able to test drive three different versions of the Toyota Tacoma HEV trucks, which start at $46,300: The TRD Off-Road, the TRD Pro and the Trailhunter. with this hybrid engine option, on four different off-road trail courses.

Related: 2024 Toyota Tacoma First Drive: All the Choices Are the Luxury 

2024 Toyota Tacoma
iFORCE MAX badge shown on the tail, there’s also one on the driver hood. Photo: Kymri Wilt

i-FORCE Max HEV is the “Taco Especial” Version of an Already Epic Tacoma

What goes into this i-FORCE MAX version of the beloved Taco? The star feature is a 2.4 liter turbo engine combined with a 48 hp electric motor and 8-speed transmission, making this the most powerful powertrain ever offered on a Toyota Tacoma. To be fair, while there is negligible impact on fuel efficiency (est. combined 24 MPG), what this hybrid engine really delivers is an improvement in power, producing up to 326 horsepower (depending on model) AND a whopping 465 lb.-ft of torque. That’s a 75% increase in torque over the previous generation gas-only V-6. These new Tacos have the salsa caliente built in. The 2024 i-FORCE MAX Tacoma is the most powerful Tacoma truck to date.

Related: We Drove the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser. This is What You Need to Know

Toyota Tacoma Trd Pro
Look mom, no wheels! The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro gets airborne during a controlled course test drive. Photo: Kymri Wilt Credit: Kymri Wilt

Electrifying Power from Takeoff to Landing

The i-FORCE MAX engine certainly produces the power. But power also shows up in a highly responsive acceleration. The Toyota Tacoma knows that a foot on the accel pedal means business, and you’ll feel the difference with the electric motor’s instant boost. Flooring it in a 6,000-pound truck and hitting speed while powering uphill on a dirt road is… intoxicating. There, I said it. I felt so high on that thirst-quenching 0-60 punch that I was absolutely giddy and craving more.

My drive partner’s jaw dropped. She has known me as a laid-back surfer-mom-Prius driver for almost 12 years yet had never seen this side of me: a thrill-seeking off-road adventurer who loves to floor it and let’er fly. And fly we did!

At one point, we accelerated uphill on a dirt road (controlled course) so fast that when we hit a bump, we flew, and I don’t mean out of our seats. I mean, we literally caught air in the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, with all 4 wheels off the ground! Oh. What. A. Feeling.

2024 Toyota Tacoma
The spacious back row of the 2024 Tacoma Trailhunter, in mineral gray. Photo: Kymri Wilt

Built to Stick the Landing

During that split second of time being airborne in the Tacoma TRD Pro, it occurred to me that trucks can’t stay in the air for long and inevitably, we were coming down fast. But that landing was not the abrupt jolting slam I was bracing for. Rather, it was a surprisingly soft rumble – not unlike mild airplane turbulence – and I seemed to have floated right down into the seat cushion where I needed to be, with sunglasses and stomach still intact. That’s due partly to the re-engineered suspension, which you don’t see, and the IsoDynamic performance front seats, which you DO see. They are equipped with shock absorbers in the seats, and you can dial up or down the shock absorption. These seats are downright magic, like a magic carpet ride.

The IsoDynamic shock-absorbing system stabilizes the neck and head and keeps the spine in alignment while allowing for simultaneous vertical and lateral seat movement. It doesn’t do justice to describe the mechanics of it, but it’s a game-changer for the Baja racing enthusiasts. I expected to be plenty sore after bumping around the rugged off-roading courses, but the ISODynamic seats should save you from visiting the chiropractor or needing a massage.

Related: Which Toyota SUV is the Right One For You?

2024 Toyota Tacoma
The center console is the control center in the 2024 Toyota Tacoma iFORCE MAX grade. Photo: Kymri Wilt

Adventure and Performance Flavor Accents in the 2024 Toyota Tacoma

You know you’re enjoying a great taco when you can taste every ingredient – you just think about it, and there it is. That is exactly how I felt driving the 2024 Toyota Tacoma. Whenever I thought about a particular adjustment to spice up my drive experience, the Tacoma was ready to serve it. Here’s what I tried and tasted at the Tacoma salsa bar.

  • On-demand 4WD – The Limited grade comes with full-time 4WD. The other grades offer On Demand 4WD, with two speeds 4H and 4L, depending on your terrain. 4H (high) is best for straight-line driving, and 4L (low) is preferable when you need more power at slower speeds, such as on difficult terrain or in snow and mud.
  • Multi-Terrain Select – These adjustable settings allow you to control wheel spin in a range of conditions, such as sand (dunes), dirt (trails), and sticky mud.
  • Stabi Disconnect Mechanism (SDM) – The front end Stabilizer bar means a great drive on the road. But when you get off-road, you can get even greater performance and articulation. Why? Because when the trail gets demanding, you can disconnect the stabilizer bar with the push of a button, expanding the truck’s range of vertical motion and preventing the tires from lifting off the road surface on one side or the other.
  • Crawl Control – This blew my mind. You know how you have cruise control for highway speed? Would you ever dare to hand over control to a truck in rugged off-road conditions? It’s called crawl – not cruise – for a reason, and that is because it keeps the truck moving at low speed, so all you have to do is steer. It’s not new, but it was new for me and I got to try it in a couple of speeds and circumstances. In the lowest Crawl Control setting, 1 = 1 MPH. On the technical course, I took my foot off the pedal and focused only on steering through a rocky patch of boulders. There were moments when the truck would hesitate, reading the terrain, then proceed steadily ahead at 1 mile per hour. Later on I dialed up to 2 and 3, and loved not having to worry about jolty accel and braking for bumpy dirt trails and controlled descent. Crawl Control was an absolute dream driving downhill on gravel, holding speed and traction while I just watched and held the steering wheel.
2024 Toyota Tacoma Trd Off-Road
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road in Solar Octane paint color. Photo: Toyota

The Taco’s Crunch is All in the Tech

You know you have all those yummy taco fillings, but they don’t make a taco without a shell holding it all together. For the Toyota Tacoma, it’s the technology that wraps around everything and seals the deal.

There’s plenty of charging ports, including a mag charger that keeps your phone upright and viewable, yay. The 12-inch digital driver display goes beyond the basics with a button on the steering wheel to scroll through various checks, like tire pressure, angle of truck on terrain, and more.

The available 14-inch multimedia touchscreen has everything you’d expect, like Navigation, custom settings, wireless Apple Care Play and Android Connect, and music channels. And speaking of music, the center wireless bluetooth speaker is removable to take your music with you after the drive. So great to have that for those camping adventures in the backcountry.

2024 Toyota Tacoma
Driving with the Multi-Terrain Monitor view showing obstacles in front and on both sides. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Best Overland and Off-Road View is Not the One out the Window

There was one thing in the Toyota Tacoma i-FORCE MAX that satiated me above all else. It was the 3D Multi-Terrain Monitor that I couldn’t live without. This camera system allowed me to view potential obstacles I couldn’t see through the windshield. Seeing what’s directly in front and behind at ground level is further assisted with an underbody view, so I can look at the screen and literally watch the terrain as I drive over it.

The camera view on both sides of the truck were the “scratch-savers” – and helped to make sure I would clear a narrow section of trail. With boulders on my left and trail edge on my right, I could see precisely how close I could pass the boulder while watching my right side tires to be sure I wouldn’t go over. Driving up a dirt trail with only the sky through my windshield, I relied heavily on that monitor to know what lay over the hill. This 3d Multi-Terrain Monitor decreased the stress of navigating unknown terrain and really made the drive so much more enjoyable and comfortable. That, for me, is a perfect Taco.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter
The distinctly unique dash trim of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter. Photo: Kymri Wilt

So, What Are the Costs and Available Trimmings for the i-FORCE Max Taco?

TRD Sport and Offroad grades start at $46,300. The TRD Sport has a more responsive feel on and off pavement, and the Offroad is geared primarily toward, you guessed it, off-roading. The TRD Sport upgrade package adds on $8,290, and the TRD Off-Road premium package adds $8,540. 

Limited—This is the favorite of the paved-road Toyota Tacoma driver for daily driving and road trips, while still capably handling overland and off-road adventuring. This grade features full-time 4WD and adds two pre-programmed drive modes, Sport S+ and Comfort. Plus, there is a Custom mode for the driver to have ultimate control over the handling and experience. Pricing starts at $55,800.

Trailhunter—This first-ever Tacoma Trailhunter grade is factory-developed as an overlanding beast ready for hitting the dirt at higher speed (Baja, anyone?). There are lots of bells and whistles here, including a high clearance front bumper and trail exhaust tip, steel underbody protection, steel rock rails, a snorkel for fresh air intake, a passenger hold bar in the center, and my favorite interior trim: Mineral – yellow accents against granite gray. Gorgeous. Trailhunter starts at $62,900 for 4×4 and $63,400 for 4×4 with a 6’ bed.

TRD Pro—This is the most expensive Toyota Tacoma, starting at $63,900, but also the most powerful overall. The TRD Pro is capably suited for off-road rock crawling and mountain climbing, with beautiful design elements and comfort inside and that 14-inch multimedia monitor as standard. It’s packed with inclusions, leaving the only option of $500 for two-tone paint.

2024 Toyota Tacoma
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma lineup, ready for overland and trail drives. Photo: Kymri Wilt Credit: Kymri Wilt

Toyota Trucks, and Tacos, are Popular with San Diegans, in Particular

Starting at the water’s edge, what do San Diego lifeguards rely on to drive across the sand to rescue and save lives? Toyota trucks (the 4Runner is the choice here).  At the beach, the parking lots are populated with all sizes, years, and models of Toyota trucks, with surfboards sticking out of the truck bed and wetsuits hanging to dry off the rearview mirrors. Surfer friends who drive Tacoma trucks would not have it any other way. Further, there’s an undeniable cross-segment of the surfing population that is crazy about skiing and snowboarding, too. Here in San Diego, it’s possible to do both – hit the slopes and hit the waves – in a single day. It’s an adventure getting from sea level to the snowy slopes, and Toyota trucks are there for it.

For me, I’m not so much into being cold and frostbitten in high elevations (translation: I suck at skiing), but I do love getting away from the coast in San Diego’s backcountry for some scenic driving and off-road fun (translation: badassery). From offshore to off-road, the 2024 Toyota Tacoma is making a truck girl out of this ocean-loving, Prius-driving surfer.

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Based in Cardiff by the Sea, California, Kymri is a freelance travel photographer, writer, and videographer. Between travels, she... More about Kymri WIlt