Toyota tells us that it has beefed up the Taco's construction with a high-strength steel frame. The automaker continues to use an open frame, which allows a bit of flex at the rear end and improves articulation.
An electronically-controlled, on-demand four-wheel drive system can be toggled between rear and all-wheel drive with a twist of a knob. Twist again to toggle between the standard high and low range crawling ratio.
The Crawl control system was used to ease the truck down a steep hill of loose silt. By individually controlling each wheel's brakes, the Tacoma eased itself down the hill at a controlled speed. I only had to steer.
On the highway, I found the TRD Off-road suspension to be ridiculously stiff and bouncy — so much so that holding conversation was tricky. However, it is in its element when off-road, soaking up bumps and crashing over dirt and gravel paths with ease.
Crawl Control uses anti-lock brakes to control wheel motions and makes a lot of noise in the process. It was difficult to tell if all of the banging and thumping was the brakes or some part of the body coming into contact with the rocks below.