Taco Con Carnes: Adding More Meat to a 2017 Tacoma
Fender Clearance
Even at full lock, the tires clear the fenders nicely. We did find that when the suspension is fully articulated and the steering is at full lock, the tires will clip the inside of the fenders, but this is a pretty rare occurrence. For normal street driving, the fitment is just right.
Morgan Towing
Ok, enough drooling, how do these tires work? Well a few weeks after we mounted the Nittos and Level 8 wheels to the Tacoma, we had to tow my dad’s Morgan +4 to the body shop to get an estimate on how much it would take to strip and repaint the old roadster. The added width of the Level 8 wheels and the traction of the new Nitto tires was very welcome and the truck handled wonderfully even with 3,000 lbs of trailer and old British car on the back. Unfortunately, the heavier tires rob a noticeable amount of power from the engine, both by being slightly taller and much heavier (about 25 lbs per wheel) and having that extra power would have been really nice. For reference, this truck is rated to tow 6,400 lbs, so we’re nowhere near maxing what this truck is supposed to be able to do, yet there wasn’t enough power to get out of 4th gear on the highway.
Appalachin Taco
On the way home from that trip, we decided to try and climb over an Appalachian. While we failed at finding a mountain road, we did find plenty of muddy dirt roads to take the Taco through and the Nittos performed nicely, quickly cleaning themselves of mud and debris, and always moving the big truck forward. Great!  We also found that the road noise, while much more noticeable compared to the OEM tires, was nowhere near as bad as we expected, especially once the tires had bedded in after the first 1,000 miles or so.
Indy Taco
So is this the perfect setup for a Tacoma? The best way of adding some toughness and traction to the mid-size truck leader, right? Wrong. While the tires look awesome and the fitment is spot-on, and yes, the grip on most surfaces is vastly improved, we might not make this choice again. After 20,000 miles on the Nittos, the off road tread pattern is loud for my taste, way too heavy, and way too off road biased for a almost exclusively street driven daily driver. They’ve hurt the fuel mileage of our Tacoma (dropping from an average of 18 to just under 16 MPG), and the lack of power from the weight is very noticeable. Finally, these tires are not good in snow. There isn’t enough siping to really bite into snow and slush so they tend to be slick in cold conditions, of course they are not designed for nor have the compound for snow use.  A snow tire would also get destroyed in off road driving!

This isn’t Nitto’s fault: this is purely my own fault for picking the wrong tire for my application.  I got my head wrapped around a tire size that is very uncommon and I paid the price.  I also wrongly selected the beefy 10 ply model which is why the tire was so heavy.  For a dedicated trail rig, the Trail Grappler would be an excellent tire and one you should consider.  But for a daily driver that is almost purely driven on the street, it’s too heavy in 10 ply form, and too loud. Instead, I should have gotten a leveling kit for the front of my truck and moved to the 285-75/16 tire size.  This is much more common and there is a huge range of tires available, like the Nitto’s Ridge Grappler that Mike has had on his Tundra for some time.  Both are much lighter than the heavy duty 10 ply Trail Grappler in this size and are much better suited to daily driving duties than the Trail Grappler.  After some of the issues we faced when lifting the VehiCross, I was hesitant to do this again on another daily driver.  But a leveling kit is much milder than a full lift kit and won’t have the same issues we had with the 3” kit we used on the VX.  

Finally, it’s important to note that this exact setup only works on the TRD Off-Road.  The Off-Road has a slightly taller suspension than the lower model Tacomas and the TRD Sport.  However, this setup should be perfectly fine on a TRD PRO as those have even more lift than the Off-Road.  In fact, you could even fit the 285-75/16 tire that is much easier to find.

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