Home » The 421 Horsepower Toyota Tacoma X-Runner Concept Is The Street Truck America Deserves

The 421 Horsepower Toyota Tacoma X-Runner Concept Is The Street Truck America Deserves

Toyota Tacoma X Runner Ts
ADVERTISEMENT

Remember how street trucks whipped so much ass? From the insane Dodge Ram SRT-10 to the attainable Chevrolet S-10 Xtreme, the era of dropped and kitted trucks for everyday performance use ruled, and Toyota hasn’t forgotten. At this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas, the Japanese automaker showed off a brand new Tacoma X-Runner concept, and it has us all salivating. With lowered suspension, proper street truck visuals, and a massive power upgrade over the standard Tacoma, this concept is a total heritage play that deserves to see customer driveways.

The best part? Lots of stuff on this concept seems production feasible. Not only was it developed in-house by Toyota’s Calty design studio in California, it features extensive parts bin raiding (Toyota wanted to point out the versatility of its TNGA-F platform) to keep things functional and theoretically faster than ever before. Oh, and the trucks that led up to this are properly awesome, so let’s get into the history of the X-Runner for some context on this badass concept.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Toyota Tacoma S-Runner

Before the X-Runner, there was the S-Runner. Just a few thousand of these monochrome beauties painted in either Black Sand Pearl or Radiant Red made it out of NUMMI between model years 2001 to 2004, each sporting a wicked set of 16-inch alloy wheels, a proper street truck body kit, and a host of performance upgrades. As per Motor Trend:

To create the S-Runner’s sport truck look, Toyota lowered a 4×2 Xtracab pickup truck by an inch and fitted performance-minded Tokico gas shocks. Other S-Runner suspension mods include increased-rate springs, front and rear anti-sway bars, and modifications to the power steering to increase effort and feel. Toyota’s 3.4L/190-hp DOHC V-6 is bolted to a five-speed manual gearbox, and its exhaust system is tuned to evoke musclecar memories.

Competing directly against the Chevrolet S-10 Xtreme, the Tacoma S-Runner was more niche, more refined, and far rarer than Chevrolet’s popular compact street truck, but Toyota had struck the right nerve. For the next generation of Tacoma, things would get even bigger.

ADVERTISEMENT

2005 Tacoma X Runner 1

When the 2005 model year rolled around, so did a new Tacoma. I’m talking new engines, new bodywork, a new frame, and a new street truck trim level. If you walked into your local Toyota dealer in 2005 with $23,675, or about $37,312 in today’s money, burning a hole in your pocket, you could’ve driven out of there in a Tacoma X-Runner. At the time, it was the most expensive two-wheel-drive Tacoma money could buy, but it came with a raft of tasty upgrades.

2005 Tacoma X-Runner 2

From the factory, there were only three ways to order a Tacoma X-Runner: In Speedway Blue, Radiant Red, or Black Sand Pearl. You either knew how to operate this street truck’s six-speed manual gearbox or learned, and four-wheel-drive was out of the question entirely. The only engine was a 245-horsepower four-liter 1GR-FE V6, a torquey, punchy unit that motivated the X-Runner with reasonable authority. Toyota claimed a zero-to-60 mph time of seven seconds flat, which certainly isn’t bad for a V6 pickup truck.

2005 Tacoma X-Runner 3

ADVERTISEMENT

However, the Tacoma X-Runner was never meant for straight-line speed. It was meant to give Miatas a hard time when the road got twisty. Toyota went to town on this truck, bracing the rear leaf spring shackles, dropping the ride height by an inch, amping up the spring rates, controlling those springs with Bilstein dampers, keeping body motions in check with bigger anti-roll bars, and employing a sticky set of 255/45R18 tires. Topping it all off was a limited-slip differential, because nobody likes spinning one tire out of hairpins. The result? A claimed 0.90 g on the skidpad, which should theoretically best what Car And Driver got out of a 2003 Nissan 350Z Roadster. Now that’s cooking with gas.

2013 Tacoma X-Runner

Toyota has a certain reputation for finding something that works and sticking with it forever, and the X-Runner stayed in showrooms far after most marques had abandoned the street truck genre, disappearing from the new market in the lower 48 after 2013. It hung around in Canada for 2014, but by 2015, the third-generation Tacoma was on the horizon. Needless to say, we never got a third-generation Tacoma X-Runner.

Img 2084

This X-Runner concept features an automatic transmission, although I’m not even mad because you won’t find just four spark plugs under this hood. Forget the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-banger that’s going into everything, this functional concept gets the 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 from the Tundra, with output boosted to 421 horsepower and 479 lb.-ft. of torque. Oh yes, that ought to do nicely.

ADVERTISEMENT

Img 2166

The boosted V6 and ten-speed automatic transmission aren’t the only family components on the Tacoma X-Runner Concept. Since the new Taco shares a common TNGA-F architecture with the Tundra, Toyota was able to use that truck’s front brakes, rear axle, and rear air suspension. Combine raiding the Tundra parts bin with a few key extra treats like stiffer front springs, a wider track, custom-valved Bilstein dampers, and glorious 285/45R21 Michelin meats wrapped around some wild carbon fiber wheels, and you should get a one-off that goes, stops and turns like no other fourth-generation Tacoma out there.

Img 2071

Of course, performance is just one facet of the Tacoma X-Runner concept, as this thing leans into street truck fantasies with a chunky body kit designed by Toyota’s Calty studio, Speedway Blue paint that throws things back to the original X-Runner, black accents for a pop of contrast, and upgraded lighting. After all, street trucks are about looking good just as much as they’re about being fast.

Img 2078

ADVERTISEMENT

While this reborn Tacoma X-Runner Concept is simply a one-off for SEMA, it deserves to enter production. It’s been years since we’ve seen a new factory-built street truck from any major manufacturer, and with 20-year nostalgic trend cycles currently landing on the era of nu-metal, the time feels right to cash in. Sure, the Tundra V6 swap probably isn’t production feasible from an emissions and certification standpoint, but a new X-Runner with the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-banger and a manual would be awesome. After all, off-road pickup trucks are cool, but some of us want to haul both ass and spare parts for project cars.

(Photo credits: David Tracy, Toyota)

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
19 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
7 months ago

Think that front corner angle makes it look worse that it is, from the side back the front end doesn’t look so high, be curious to see it in person, it should be lower and sleeker but that front end is so busy it looks like JC Whitney gone mad.

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison
7 months ago

Had a red ’09 for 1.5 years with a short throw shifter and a big brake kit. Handled great, but the engine belonged in a tractor. Sold it for a Mark 7 GTI and never looked back.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
7 months ago

Make trucks low again!

Myk El
Myk El
7 months ago

I much prefer this conceptually than the lifted pickups I see so commonly.

Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
7 months ago

I’ve always been a fan of the street trucks. Perfect truck for hauling dirt bikes – everyone wants a 4×4 but at least in SoCal getting to trails or the MX track is 99% street driving. Plus once you get used to a 450 MX’er offroading in a stock truck is boring.

The body they built for this concept is pretty awful though. Tacoma isn’t even a Tacoma anymore. But 1/2 ton trucks consistently sell in huge numbers, I just don’t know who is buying them with housing prices so crazy.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago

The Taco has gotten so big.

The last gen X-Runner was great as a daily because the bed was low and accessible. But wasn’t the great miata-chaser they made it out to be because, well, it’s a pickup with poor weight distribution and when driving spritely, that 6MT shifter made for looooooong throws. Not to mention the hood scoop better be functional this time; the fake one was just a noisemaker on the previous gen (it would have been much better served without).

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
7 months ago

It’s so big and bulky I thought it was a Tundra. It looks very hungry.

MrLM002
MrLM002
7 months ago

I “love” how the hood look like its six inches taller than it needs to be.

God I hate how poor the driver visibility is on a lot of modern cars and trucks.

I’ve had this idea bouncing around for a bit where someone replaces the frunk lid of “F-150” Lightning with lexan or something of the sort and has regular people drive it with both the regular frunk lid (first) then the see-through lid. I think it would make a pretty big difference.

Cabover/cabforward FTW!

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
7 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

More like a foot, couldn’t they make it at least a frunk storage area. Six way pro tailgate you say GM, we’ll we have 10 cubic feet of storage space under our hood.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Be like an old Subaru with the spare in the engine bay.

Mark Jacob
Mark Jacob
7 months ago

I mean, this is great and all, but it’s still so HUGE

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
7 months ago

Looks like a Ram and Silverado had a baby and they used some Hellcat lube..

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

That’s just so wrong

COTD material right here!

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
7 months ago

I had a street truck back in the day, an S10 SS. Was a lot of fun.

One thing that I think has really contributed to the decline of this genre is infrastructure. Saw a slammed regular cab Silverado driving around last weekend and with how bad roads in Houston are it did not look like a fun ride. With my S10 back in 2000 (and being in high school with no sign of a bad back yet) it was manageable, but now, I’m not sure I could do it. Everyone wants to ride high and have some sidewall to defend against potholes.

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

I have a very low Dodge Dakota R/T and boy is the ride rough

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
7 months ago

Everything has to be a 5 foot tall wall of grille coming at you. Sorry, pedestrians, hope you didn’t want to be seen, or survive.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
7 months ago

really illustrates how chunky and bulky the new Tacoma is compared to the outgoing models.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
7 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

It looks better setup for offroading. Not so much this version.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
7 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Yeah. I am surprised they could do so little with the body kit, but it looks way too bulky, when I expected smooth and speedy looking.

19
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x