Toyota Tacoma’s Crawl Control System (In-Depth Look)

Crawl control acts like a cruise control for off-road adventures, allowing the driver to navigate difficult terrain without any input to the gas or brake pedals.

Key Points:

  • Crawl control makes it easy to control your Tacoma in tough off-road terrain.
  • Operates at a fixed, low speed between 1 and 5 mph with no need to touch the gas or brake pedal.
  • Think of crawl control as a cruise control for off-roading.
  • Use on very rocky terrain, snow, sand, and steep ascents/descents.

Are you an off-road enthusiast? If so, you want to learn how to operate the Toyota Tacoma crawl control system. It’s a game-changer and designed for your off-roading needs.

In this guide, we look closer at what the crawl control system is used for on Tacoma trucks and how to use it. We also examine when it should be used and determine the differences between multi-terrain select and crawl control.

What Is Crawl Control?

Crawl control is designed to make travel easier while heading down extremely rough off-road surfaces. It allows for driving at a fixed low speed, and you never have to push on the accelerator or brake pedal.

Toyota’s crawl control system also minimizes traction loss and reduces vehicle slip while driving on slick surfaces. With this capability, driving is more stable. 

(2024 Tacoma Owner’s Manual)

How It Works

Now that you understand what the crawl control system is on Toyota Tacoma trucks, it’s valuable to learn what makes it work, mechanically speaking. Consider this system a low-speed cruise control designed specifically for rock crawling and on-trail driving.

Here are some fun facts about the crawl control system operation:

  • Works in tandem with the electronic stability control (ESC) system
  • ESC sensors give information to the crawl control system to use for braking and wheel speed
  • Sensors detect wheel slippage and determine how much power should be applied to each wheel to keep it moving over obstacles
  • It’s designed to work between 1 and 5 mph

With this system, you can spend more time focusing on the obstacles in front of you. It also frees you to give additional attention to tire placement for better traction. 

(Motor Trend)

When to Use It

When would you want to activate the crawl control system?

  • Off-roading over tough terrain, such as mud, sand, rocks, and gravel
  • During slow-speed travel over snow
  • For help on steep inclines and declines

Then, here are some situations when you should avoid using crawl control:

  • Every day on-road use
  • Long periods over many miles

Toyota’s crawl control should always be deactivated once you have gotten the truck unstuck or you have successfully navigated out of the difficult terrain (2024 Tacoma Owner’s Manual).

Here’s a quick demo video showcasing the capabilities of crawl control:

How to Use It

crawl control selector

Using the crawl control system in a Toyota Tacoma is relatively easy. Here are some basic steps to consider.

  1. Stop your truck and keep your foot on the brake.
  2. Shift into Neutral and put the Tacoma into 4-Low.
  3. Shift into Reverse or Drive, depending on the situation.
  4. Press the Crawl Control ON/OFF switch. It’s found above the rearview mirror.
  5. Select the appropriate speed with the dial.
  6. Remove your foot from the brake and let the system take over.

While the system is activated, the car speed (information) will appear on the Multi-Information Display (MID). Here are the five speed modes and what they are designed for:

  • 1 – Low for rock, gravel (downhill), or mogul (downhill)
  • 2 – Low to Medium for all of the previous functions and mogul (uphill)
  • 3 – Medium for snow, mud, sand, dirt, grass, mogul (uphill), and gravel (uphill)
  • 4 – Medium to High for snow, mud, sand, dirt, grass, mogul (uphill), and gravel (uphill)
  • 5 – High for snow, mud, sand, dirt, grass, mogul (uphill), and gravel (uphill)

(2024 Tacoma Owner’s Manual)

Which Tacomas Come With It?

Does your Toyota Tacoma have the crawl control system? It hasn’t been available with every model. Here are some of the ways to get this advanced system.

  • Optional on some 2016 and newer Tacoma trucks with 4WD and an automatic transmission
  • Standard with 2024 Tacoma TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro models

To determine if your Tacoma is equipped with this technology, look in your owner’s manual or check for the button above the rearview mirror. 


What Tacoma Owners Are Saying About Crawl Control

Let’s look at what some current Tacoma owners think about crawl control. 

I am a beginner and learning. I got stuck on a hill and couldn’t get out, and my experienced friend couldn’t either. [I] switched to crawl and went uphill [with] no issues. Now I know it can’t be a substitute for good 4lo driving, but none the less I love it.
I’m an avid off road guy and am not sure I would ever use it. But the way I see it crawl control is just another tool I have at my disposal.
I’ve owned my TRD Off-Road for several years and, in my opinion, for the vast majority of people crawl control isn’t necessary at all. 4lo, rear locker and your right foot are all you need.
I’ve used it a number of times and love it. Maybe it’s a gimmick I don’t know (first truck I’ve owned) but I love to turn it on and watch it do its thing. I’ve used it when it was stuck, and use it now with new lift and tires, love it all the same.

The consensus seems to be that the owners who have tried this system love it. Yet, others don’t seem to see the appeal, so they haven’t tried it out or don’t use it regularly. Therefore, it’s tough to gain an opinion from these drivers. 

Is It Worth Using?

If you aren’t off-roading over tough obstacles or driving in precarious situations requiring you to go extremely slow, the crawl control system won’t help you. It will be a piece of equipment that you may never use.

On the other hand, if you are an avid off-roader, you may use this system constantly. It’s an excellent tool for escaping stuck situations and overcoming challenging obstacles. 

Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) vs. Crawl Control

Toyota Tacoma trucks are offered with both Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) and crawl control, so what’s different between them? While both are helpful for gaining traction, the uses, and applications are different.

MTS adjusts traction control to accommodate varying types of terrain. It regulates the engine throttle and the traction control system to reduce wheel spin. 

As a Tacoma driver, you can adjust the MTS setting to match whatever terrain you are on. After that, the truck makes its own adjustments. The truck responds with better handling and traction on slippery or slick surfaces. With this system, you maintain focus on the road while the small adjustments for better handling are performed automatically.

On the other hand, crawl control is designed to work only on difficult terrain while traveling 5 mph or less. It’s a low-speed cruise control setting that automatically adjusts braking and acceleration so that you can focus on steering. 

While the systems are different, they can be used together. Both systems utilize the truck’s stability control system but have a different use. Crawl control helps you get over the challenging terrain, while MTS makes automatic adjustments for wheel slippage. 

(JD Power)

Other Drive Modes Available on the Tacoma

Maybe you don’t have a need for crawl control because you don’t head off-road. It’s to be expected that this drive mode isn’t going to be used by everyone. Yet, the Tacoma comes equipped with several different drive modes, all with a unique purpose. Therefore, it’s good to understand what each of them is intended for.

  • 2WD: Normal driving on dry, surfaced roads.
  • 4H: Offers greater traction but is designed to use only on surfaces where the tires are sliding, such as ice and snow.
  • 4L: Provides more traction and maximum torque power when climbing or descending steep hills. It’s also good for off-road driving, especially in deep snow, mud, or sand.
  • ECT Power: Provides higher levels of feel and response when driving in a mountainous area or while towing a trailer.
  • S Mode: Gear that holds a lower transmission setting for an extended period. It provides more power from the engine for a more exciting driving experience. 

You can also use the Multi-Terrain Select system, which helps you adjust the driving for the terrain you drive on. Here are the five selections to choose from.

  • Mud & Sand: Designed for muddy, sandy, and snow-covered roads or dirt trails
  • Loose Rock: Use on slippery surfaces such as loose rock
  • Mogul: Designed for extremely bumpy road conditions
  • Rock & Dirt: Use on very bumpy road conditions with rocks and dirt
  • Rock: Good for any rocky terrain

To determine what settings are right for your driving, try each of them out in the appropriate setting. You’ll soon discover which ones are beneficial to you and which you can live without. 

(2024 Tacoma Owner’s Manual)

Related Content

Tacoma Trucks Have Your Back

Whether it’s the crawl control system or the Multi-Terrain Select drive modes, your Tacoma has the features you need to drive across any surface. Toyota has thoughtfully considered everything you would want from this truck, and nothing disappoints. 

Whether you need something for your off-road adventures or are simply looking for something more capable during inclement weather, your Tacoma can be trusted. Learn more about the different drive modes and determine what works best for every situation.

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