What Is a Tacoma TRD PreRunner?

The 2024 Tacoma TRD PreRunner is inspired by Baja pre-runners, offering off-road capability, advanced construction, and customizable features.

Key Points:

  • The PreRunner concept is rooted in off-road racing
  • Toyota reintroduced the PreRunner for 2024.
  • Offers a balance of capability and comfort.
  • Includes a reinforced frame, aluminum components for weight reduction, and enhancements for rigidity and handling.
  • A turbocharged engine and solid rear axle delivers improved performance and towing capacity.
  • The functional interior includes lockable storage options and a versatile seating configuration.

This article delves into the exciting new 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD PreRunner.

This unique vehicle, bearing the iconic PreRunner name, offers a thrilling off-road experience inspired by the Baja pre-runners used by Trophy Truck teams.

Whether you’re considering the 2024 PreRunner for your next adventure or just interested in what Toyota has brought to market, this comprehensive guide will give you a detailed look at its capabilities, design, and performance.

The PreRunner Concept and Its Off-Road Heritage

Top-line off-road racing teams have long used pre-runners to scout the routes of off-road desert races.

And whereas a race truck is stripped down to the barest of essentials, a “pre-runner” is often outfitted with softer suspension, carpeted interior, air conditioning, functioning doors and windows, and other creature comforts. Most are rear-wheel drive (RWD).

For the 1998 model year, Toyota introduced a 2WD off-road version of the Tacoma, inspired by the Baja pre-runners. The PreRunner was developed with the Toyota Motorsports off-road team to verify its capabilities. The model continued in production through the 2015 model year.

For 2024, Toyota has reintroduced the Tacoma PreRunner, a truck that’s true to the heritage of the previous PreRunner and the Baja pre-runners.

2024 toyota tacoma prerunner

We believe that Toyota spec’d the TRD PreRunner in a way that allows for easy upgrades for improved off-road performance.

For example, the 2024 PreRunner is available only in the XtraCab configuration with a six-foot bed, pretty much what a buyer with intentions of modifying the truck for offroading would order.

RWD versus AWD

In the minds of many, to be a competent off-road performer, a truck needs an AWD or, better yet, a 4WD system. That may be true for rock climbing and traversing rough terrain at low speeds, but RWD has advantages on an open desert, fire road, or dirt trail.

2018 Baja 1000 overall four-wheel winner Cameron Steele shared with us some advantages RWD presents in those terrains. 

“A RWD truck is a lighter truck with better weight distribution. AWD adds weight to the front of the truck, making it less nimble. It also increases your turning radius. When you’re pre-running, you must thread through tight passes, and a RWD truck offers more precise control over large bumps there,” Steele explained.

“And while new technology 4WD systems for Trophy Trucks have gained popularity recently since the class started in 1994, most Trophy Truck victories have been in 2WD trucks,” Steele added.

Upgraded Construction

Toyota’s PreRunner is constructed on the TNGA-F truck platform, which it shares with the Tundra and Sequoia.

The boxed frame is built with high-strength steel, enhancing rigidity, while aluminum components in the upper body reduce overall weight.

Cross members of the frame are reinforced to provide superior strength, and a new front cross member supports the steering gearbox, further improving rigidity and handling.

Engine and Drivetrain

Under the hood, the PreRunner packs a powerful punch. Its turbocharged iForce 2.4 L four-cylinder T24A-FTS engine delivers 278 horsepower and 317 ft/lb of torque. That’s a 42 hp and a 51 ft/lb. improvement over the previous 2015 PreRunner. And like its pre-runner inspiration, the PreRunner is available only with an automatic transmission – in this case, Toyota’s now-sorted direct-shift eight-speed box. 

Unlike more upscale models in the new Tacoma line-up, the TRD PreRunner features a solid rear axle suspended by leaf springs. A solid axle is more rugged than a multi-link, and it’s easier to increase rear ride height with leaf springs. The rear axle set-up also provides the highest Tacoma towing capacity of 6,500 lbs.

Inside the rear axle housing is a standard electronically locking limited-slip differential.

Suspension and Off-Road Modifications

The PreRunner’s lifted front suspension is designed to handle off-road adventures easily. Unlike higher trim levels with exotic dampers, the TRD PreRunner is fitted with mundane twin-tube Tokico shocks, freeing the owner to select their own upgraded dampers.

tacoma prerunner suspension
tacoma prerunner suspension

A TRD lift kit is also in the pipeline, promising even greater off-road capabilities. In addition, we’ll provide recommendations for aftermarket off-road accessories, such as skid plates, suspension kits, lights, and off-road wheels and tires, to enhance your PreRunner’s capabilities further.

Interior Features

tacoma prerunner interior

The words for the 2024 PreRunner’s cabin are purely functional.

There are two seats and no back bench. Toyota states, “This configuration has no rear doors and no rear seat but makes the most of its cabin with all kinds of additional storage options.” 

The TRD PreRunner features lockable storage on the rear floor for storing toolboxes, recovery straps, and first aid kits.

tacoma prerunner storage

Lockable storage on the back panel will accommodate shovels, axes and other recovery tools. Plus, the long-slide driver’s seat provides quick and easy access to the rear storage area.

tacoma prerunner lockage storage panel
tacoma prerunner lockage storage panel opened

Additionally, the passenger seat back folds flat and can be used as a workspace, plus there’s a water bottle holder.”

Frequently Asked Questions

The PreRunner is designed for off-road enthusiasts who prefer to decide how and when they modify their trucks. Without the many features of more upmarket models, the PreRunner is less expensive and allows for modifications to be made as budget allows.

The PreRunner is a 2WD (4×2) vehicle, providing a different off-road experience than traditional 4×4 models. The lack of a heavy 4WD system makes the truck more agile and easier to control precisely.

Key features include a robust suspension, powerful engine, impressive payload and towing capacity, and advanced off-road capabilities.

Yes, the PreRunner is designed explicitly for offroading. It features a lifted front suspension and large-diameter off-road tires.

Absolutely! The PreRunner has a high payload and towing capacity, making it suitable for towing trailers and carrying heavy loads.

Baja HQ

If you’re interested in improving the off-road capabilities of your Tacoma and live in Southern California, check out Cameron Steele’s Baja HQ.

He and his team are dedicated to assisting owners in building street-legal off-road trucks, focusing on dual street and desert use. 


In conclusion, the 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD PreRunner is not just a truck – it’s an invitation to adventure.

Its off-road heritage, upgraded construction, and outstanding performance capabilities make it a versatile companion for off-road enthusiasts and overlanders alike.

So, whether you’re exploring desert trails or conquering challenging terrains, the PreRunner offers a world of customization and potential for your off-road journeys. 


We’ve shared our take on the 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD PreRunner and its off-road capabilities. Now, it’s your turn. Jump into the comments and let us know where you stand!

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  1. Edward Martinez says:

    I’ve been waiting to hear whether the Off road TRD off road truck does good for snow driving. there is no snow driving for snow on any of the Tacoma trucks.

    1. Jonathan Buckley says:

      The TRD Off Road is probably the best Tacoma trim level for snow driving.