It's Tuesday of SEMA week and I can't calm down about the Toyota Tacoma X-Runner Concept. It's a 2000s-themed street truck with a widebody, air suspension, and a gosh dang twin-turbo V6 from the full-size Tundra making 421 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. You couldn't build a better sport truck from Toyota's current parts catalog if you tried, and that's what makes it so sick.
I love off-roaders even more than the next guy but it's great to see Toyota take this direction with the finally new Tacoma. And while it's far from the only car company building something cool for SEMA, this feels special. Ten years from now, I doubt we remember any of the factory Bronco concepts on the show floor today but I'll be thinking about the X-Runner for a while. It's a lot like the Tacoma with independent rear suspension from the 2008 SEMA show in that way.
By blending throwback styling with the modern twin-turbo V6, the X-Runner hits the nostalgia note without being stuck in the past. It also does the job of showcasing new products, because it features the TRD Performance Package, which adds 32 hp to the engine's standard output. You could argue it'd be cooler with the hybrid system, but it'd also be a lot heavier if it was electrified. Instead, let's just celebrate the fact that the Tundra's engine even fits under the Tacoma's hood. Modular platforms have their perks.
The trucks' shared TNGA-F architecture also allows the X-Runner Concept to wear airbag suspension from the full-size pickup. Combined with 2.5-inch Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, it gets the stance just right and I bet the handling performance is a lot better, too. Toyota extended the Tacoma's upper and lower control arms to match the Tundra's suspension geometry while throwing on larger 13.9-inch brakes up front for good measure.
Tacoma chief engineer Sheldon Brown explained that while this project did take some work to put together, the entire process happened a lot more quickly than it would have been in the past. “The TNGA-F platform allows us to efficiently build something this cool in a fraction of the development time it would normally take," Brown said in a press release. "A project like this is why you get into the automotive business."
I'm sure we'll see plenty more sweet Tacoma builds from aftermarket shops in the years to come. Still, the X-Runner Concept will hold a special place in my heart because it's essentially a factory hot rod that draws inspiration from a great, arguably underappreciated era. I don't see anyone else doing it, especially with a single cab.
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