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The 2019 Toyota Tundra Pro features upgraded suspension that provides extra lift and wheel travel. (Toyota)

What we're driving: 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Toyota pickups fitted with gonzo oversize tires, long-travel suspensions and M1 Abrams-quality skid plates have been part of the U.S. off-roading scene since before “Ironman Ivan” Stewart won the Baja 1000 in 1993. His victory ride was developed by TRD, the automaker’s U.S. race-engineering group, whose work is manifest in 2019 TRD versions of Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner production models. 

As with the off-road-oriented pickups from other OEMs, the Tundra TRD Pro delivers big fun on the rocks. But it demands some compromise as a daily driver, particularly in ride quality, unless your commute is in Colorado’s San Juan mountains.

There is peace of mind, however, in knowing that the Pro is suspended by Fox aluminum-bodied shocks packing 46-mm pistons and internal-bypass valving. Those dampers combine with TRD-tuned springs to give two extra inches of body lift and 1.5 in. of additional wheel travel over a stock Tundra. This set-up comes in handy both for playing Ivan in the dirt and for traversing objects such as snow piles and parking lot barriers.

But look beyond the tow hooks, hood scoop, forged-aluminum BBS wheels and booming TRD dual exhaust—which evokes a vintage Chris-Craft rumble at low rpm—and it’s easy to see how badly Toyota needs an all-new base Tundra. The truck’s driver interface and infotainment system have fallen behind those of the Detroit 3. Ditto the 6-speed automatic—a high-torque-capacity version of Aisin’s 10-speed AWR10L65 can’t come too soon. And why no locking rear diff?

Tundra, you need more than great fording ability to beat Ford.

2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Base price:          $49,645

As tested:            $52,474

Highs:                  Off-the-beaten-path prowess 

Lows:                   Tundra platform has fallen behind                 

The takeaway:   Robust concept awaiting the next Tundra

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