You bet your ass you can rally a Toyota Tacoma

Team O’Neil Rally School is the only type of school that I want to attend the rest of my life. Maybe flight school too, but rally and car control schools seem like they would be amazing. Team O’Neil does rally schools in the Northeast along with “arrive and drive” programs for many of the gravel rallies throughout North America. 

Will it Rally?

In their latest video series the in-house wheelman, Wyatt Knox, examines whether or not a second-generation Toyota Tacoma will rally. 

Wyatt spends the first four minutes talking through the features and accessories of the Tacoma with the TRD Off-road package. This truck has the 6-speed manual transmission, a rear locking differential (only in low range), and the upgraded Bilstein shocks. Wyatt also talks through the frame recall that occurred on these trucks. 

For a period of time, you could take your Tacoma to a Toyota dealer where they would inspect the frame, if it failed the safety checks, then Toyota would give you a new frame. We had a 2005 Tacoma that was subject to this recall and had it inspected. Our truck failed the test, so a new frame was ordered. The lead time was 6 to 8 weeks. Three months later we still had not received the new frame. We gave up waiting and sold the truck to buy a 2004 Lexus LX470. We did love that Tacoma, but our family outgrew it.

Wyatt includes some information about other parts (brake lines, control arms, etc.) that Toyota would replace while they were switching the frame. If that is truly the case then I’m not thrilled that we got rid of the truck. We could have had basically a new Tacoma.

The rest of the video is Wyatt doing some testing of the Tacoma. Handling dynamics on their dirt skidpad, 0 to 60 times (2WD & 4WD), braking from 60 to 0, and eventually a hot lap of their timed course.

Results Matter

I won’t spoil how well the Tacoma in 2WD form compared to the Dodge Charger that they timed earlier this summer, but it was interesting. While at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood two years ago, one of the start vehicles (00 car) was a second-gen Toyota Tacoma and the driver always looked like they were having a blast driving quickly on the rally stages. There was a Rav4 driven by a Millen in that race too. There was also my favorite Volvo and a glorious Ford Escort.

Toyota Rav4 Ryan Millen

515 Motorsports Rally Valvo

Ford Escort

An important piece of information that I pulled from the video is how rally drivers view a tire’s sidewall different than how off-road drivers do. Wyatt described how he was going to air up the tires to eliminate the sponginess of the sidewall to help the handling. My first instinct with off-road is to air down to help with an expanded footprint and traction. Given rally is for driving fast and off-road is generally done at much slower speeds this makes sense. Hmm, the more you know.

There’s a Chevy Astro van video too! I’m going to keep watching rally videos until I can actually attend a school. Maybe Wyatt wants to make a video with an 80-series Land Cruiser? I’d road trip to New Hampshire.

3 Comments

  1. Need to try harder to find stuff that won’t rally, especially on a pretty smooth road like they have. Not sure what wouldn’t until you get to medium duty trucks or motorhomes.

  2. The frame change he mentions on the Tacoma sounds like a warranty claim – but did all the other parts he lists also fall into that category? If there is any weak point for “last owners” like me who want to get a somewhat reliable ride, this is always the downside with Japanese vehicles: They rust. How big was the difference between that common occurrence and that generosity-inspiring frame rust on these?

  3. I’ve heard that in order to replace the frame under warranty, Toyota required that anything removed not be put back on if it wasn’t up to snuff. So many got new brake lines, brackets, suspension bushings and more. Other accounts indicated that the owner had to pay for the parts but not the labor.

    There was a Tundra recall too. When I bought my Ranger, I was considering a Tundra with nearly 300K miles, but according to the Toyota owner’s site, it had gotten a new frame a few years ago. The underside was very clean, but the rest of the truck was very tired and it was at the top of my budget, so I passed.

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