Home / Blog / 10 Toyota Tacoma Upgrades You Should Consider

10 Toyota Tacoma Upgrades You Should Consider

Sep 06, 2023Sep 06, 2023

These Toyota Tacoma upgrades help boost the overall aesthetics while increasing the Tacoma's performance and practicality.

The Toyota Tacoma is one of the best-selling mid-size pickup trucks on the market. There are three generations of the Toyota Tacoma, with the third gen turning eight in 2023. While it's still a great truck, the Tacoma's equipment offering is getting a little dusty.

Toyota still offers a wimpy 4-cylinder engine that no one should get, and an optional 278 hp V6 engine with decent performance. However, there are multiple ways of improving the Tacoma experience. These upgrades can help boost the overall aesthetics of your Tacoma while increasing its performance and practicality.

While having a conventional air compressor is advantageous in a workshop or at home, it tends to be stationary and large. If you need to inflate your Tacoma's tires when away from home or workshop, a portable air compressor will come in handy. It's easy to fit in the Tacoma along with all your recovery accessories like the first aid kit, jack, and so on.

If you plan on doing more off-roading with the Tacoma, having a good air compressor will help deflate and inflate the tires instantly. Most heavy-duty portable air compressors will work with the Tacoma's 12-volt battery. In addition, they can easily work with tires ranging from 33 to 42 inches.

One of the easiest-to-install upgrades for a Toyota Tacoma is the TRD Pro Style grille insert. Unless you have the TRD Pro Tacoma, this grille can help enhance the look of your Tacoma. The stock Tacoma grille isn't the best-looking option in the market. Luckily, some aftermarket providers offer great-looking options that help improve the aesthetics and personality of the Tacoma.

The grilles vary depending on quality, with some aftermarket manufacturers using dye-cut metal and a black stealth custom look. Such a grille helps the Tacoma look more aggressive. In addition, some grilles will also include integrated LED lighting.

Related: 10 Reasons To Buy A Toyota Tacoma

While on the topic of lighting, the Tacoma can do with a few lighting upgrades. Depending on the model year, switching the bulbs for LEDs can help offer a brighter light beam without consuming much power. In addition, the Tacoma's low beams can also do with an upgrade. Changing the lights for LEDs can offer clean and crisp lighting.

A custom LED light bar can also help provide the Tacoma with more light. Luckily, the aftermarket scene offers endless lighting options, including floodlights. More light options for the Tacoma include sequential turn signals, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and TRD Pro tail lights. All these options help increase visibility at night while adding the aesthetic appeal of the Tacoma.

A roof rack is another essential modification for a Toyota Tacoma. It can come in handy if you plan to do a lot of overlanding. The roof rack can act as the Swiss army knife since it can offer extra room for tents, storage, outdoor gear, security equipment, and shade. With a roof rack, you get to free up more space on the bed of the Tacoma.

Choosing a high-quality roof rack for the Tacoma will guarantee that it can last longer while easily blending with the style of the Tacoma. Most aftermarket Tacoma roof racks will slot into the OEM locations, making them easy to install. The roof rack will also act as a great place to mount additional accessories, including light bars.

Related: 2016-2023 Toyota Tacoma: Prices, Specs, And Features

A cold air intake is another great upgrade for giving the Tacoma everything it needs to make more power. Internal combustion engines require air to make explosions and produce power. Adding a cold air intake helps move cleaner, more air quickly into the engine, thus making more power and helping the Tacoma feel more responsive.

Using a cold air intake can help gain some ponies and torque. There are multiple cold air intake options for Toyota Tacomas, differing in price, build quality, and effectiveness. A good unit should consist of an air box and a high-flowing intake to guarantee that the Tacoma gets cold air from the outside, even at low speeds.

Some off-road capable wheels and tires can help improve the look of your Tacoma while making it more capable off-road. The aftermarket scene offers a huge selection, making it easier to find your personal preference. When choosing a wheel and tire package, the first consideration to make is the size. This will vary depending on the modifications you've added to the Tacoma.

For example, if you have a lift kit, you can easily fit 33-inch tires on your Tacoma. These tires will work best with either 17-, 19-, or 20-inch wheels. The choice of wheels will vary depending on where you plan to use your Tacoma. For example, if you plan to take it through the trails, a 17-inch wheel will work best. However, the 20-inch option offers better styling and is ideal mostly for on-road use and occasional "off-roading".

Related: 10 Innovations We Would Like to See In The 2024 Toyota Tacoma Redesign

Suspension upgrades are among the most crucial mods to conduct on a Tacoma. A suspension upgrade can give the Tacoma a bit more ride height, allowing you to fit larger wheels and tires. In case all you need is more height, you can opt for a leveling kit or a full lift kit. However, a simple suspension upgrade can help handle most day-to-day activities.

At its stock height, the Tacoma has a nose-down rake. Fitting a leveling kit can help improve the appearance of the Tacoma while eliminating the nose-down rake. The leveling kit also includes a suspension upgrade, but it doesn't alter the ride quality – thus making the Tacoma more comfortable to drive.

When planning to set the Tacoma apart from an off-road ruggedness and styling standpoint, the next must-have mod is an aftermarket bumper. Most brands will offer front and rear off-road bumpers. These can range from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on the build quality and how crazy one wants to go with the design.

Aftermarket bumpers are a huge upgrade for the Tacoma, and they can affect its ruggedness and looks. Despite offering extra protection for the Tacoma, aftermarket bumpers also offer multiple installation points for accessories like winches and d-rings. Some of them can also include mounts for lights, while others feature mesh cutouts for an aggressive look.

Related: 10 Best Features Of The 2023 Toyota Tacoma

No matter how you plan to use your Toyota Tacoma, it's always advisable to have the necessary recovery gear. After installing aftermarket bumpers, you should install the necessary recovery mounts, including d-rings. You should also get some gloves and recovery straps. After this, you can add a winch to the Tacoma, helping make it easy to get yourself out of a mess when you're alone.

When choosing the recovery gear, remember that most items will have specific weight limits. Therefore, choose every item carefully to ensure that it can indeed handle the weight of the Tacoma. In addition, consider having all the necessary recovery accessories, including a first aid kit, heavy-duty jack, and fire extinguisher.

An aftermarket exhaust helps you open up more engine performance. A good option will also make your Tacoma sound much better. While not all V6 engines have a great sound, you can enhance the Tacoma's 3.5-liter V6 with a good cat back exhaust. The system can offer a deep throaty tone, but it can vary depending on the manufacturer of the aftermarket exhaust.

In addition, a great aftermarket exhaust system can add around 5 to 10 more ponies and lf-ft of torque. Most exhaust providers build exhausts differently, with the cheaper options having multiple parts joined together with clips. Pricier options offer a one-piece exhaust, with all the essential parts welded together to prevent any leaks.

Brian is a husband, father and freelance writer. He's also a tech and automotive junkie passionate about cars and motorcycles. Brian is also an F1 fan - team Mercedes (LH). When he's not writing, Brian goes for impromptu drives and walks.