This week we deviate from the normal Jeep feature! We sit down with Daryl Hutson from JCR Offroad and Victory 4×4 and talk about how the Tacoma is not as much of a compromise as one might think!
After being very involved in the Jeep community, what made you decide on a Tacoma?
At the time my daily was a Cherokee and I kept finding myself really needing a truck bed for my bikes and camping gear. I love Comanches, but the small cab doesn’t have enough room for my lovely wife AND the dog. So the Tacoma was the next logical choice. Plus, it gave us the opportunity at JcrOffroad to branch out into a new market with Victory 4×4. Also, the truck can pull our camper, so that is rad.
Fun fact, Brian here at JCR was building and wheeling Yotas when wet met 18 years ago, so it’s fun that it has come full circle.
Has the Tacoma exceeded expectations?
Fully, but the strong aftermarket has helped that significantly. My only real complaint initially with the truck was the 3.5L engine and auto trans just being…weird. In its factory form, it has a strange power band with a huge hole in the middle, along with silly gear shift choices. It is not undriveable, just annoying. But as aftermarket tunes are showing up those issues are all but gone.
How would you compare wheeling a Tacoma to a jk or jl?
So different. Lots of body sheet metal and front suspension “bits” to worry about in the big rocks, but much smoother and more comfortable on everything up to the level of those hardcore rock crawling trails. I’ll say that the low range, off idle torque, solid front axle, and short overhangs of a Wrangler are unbeatable in the rocks.
But those rocky, rutted trails that bounce you all around in a Jeep are a blast in the Yota.
Hauling ass across the desert is pretty fun too. I guess the cop-out answer is, “depends on the trail.”
Are there any more plans for the Tacoma build wise?
I think the last piece of the puzzle for the truck is a tire carrier / high clearance rear bumper from us at Victory 4×4. Besides that, it’s pretty dialed and capable of exactly what I want it to do!
What has been your favorite trip (overlanding or wheeling) so far?
For pure wheeling, I had such a great time following the Jeeps in Colorado last year on trails like Holy Cross and Chinaman Gulch. Learning to crawl with the truck was a blast and breaking people’s expectations of where a Tacoma can go was a lot of fun. For overlanding, we just got back from a trip in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona and got to set up camp on the rim of the Grand Canyon for one night. We were the only ones for miles, and it was just gorgeous.
Experiences like that only happen once in a lifetime.