Novel Technologies Debut on 2024 Toyota Tacoma
Fourth-generation Tacoma midsize pickup truck has segment-first applications.
For nearly 20 years, the Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup truck has been a sales segment-leader and a reputation-maker. “Innovation is core to our success and to our promotion of new product,” Sheldon Brown, chief engineer of the 2024 Tacoma said during a recent interview with SAE Media at Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) in Saline, Michigan.
Segment-first technologies once again are a Tacoma mainstay. “We know we need to innovate to stay the market leader,” Stephen Provost, truck performance leader at TMNA, told SAE Media. The 2024 midsize truck’s highlight reel of debuting innovative technology is headlined by the TMNA-designed and developed IsoDynamic Performance Seat.
The driver and front-passenger standard performance seat on the Tacoma TRD Pro helps maintain neck and head stability during extreme off-roading. “The seat absorbs a hit and puts you back to zero-gravity faster than the vehicle suspension even unloads,” explained Todd Muck, an executive engineer at TMNA.
Dynamic seat motions of 30 mm/1.18-in. vertical, 20 mm/0.78-in. lateral, and 19 mm/0.74-in. horizontal are possible. “The TRD Pro’s front suspension has 9.6 in. (243.8 mm) of travel for a vehicle that weighs 5300 lbs (2404 kg). We’re giving you over an inch of seat travel, so more than 10 percent of [suspension travel] for your body weight, which is way less than 5 percent of the vehicle weight. So from that perspective, 30 mm is a lot of movement,” said Muck.
The IsoDynamic Performance Seat has four-way power lumbar/tilt/slide and is heated and cooled. Key hardware features are two air-reservoir dampers, weighing approximately 4 kg/8.8 lb., positioned outside the material-covered seatback. Five patents, plus pending patents, address seat design and movement.
Material usage on the performance seat netted a 2023 Altair Enlighten Award. “The tubular back-frame is lighter than the standard seat back-frame, and it’s also stronger,” said Trey Souchock, senior engineering manager, product performance engineering at TMNA. Tacoma’s IsoDynamic Performance Seat is a safety match to the standard seat. “When the performance seat goes into the Tacoma, there is no change to the restraints, no change to the airbags. The safety output for the customer is completely equivalent,” Souchock said.
Other world-first applications for the Tacoma include LED fog lamps that potentially enhance safety by permitting the driver to select either white or yellow light via a switch on the instrument panel. “In rain or snow conditions, white light tends to reflect light back to the driver and can cause glare. In those conditions, a yellow light may be more optimal for visibility,” explained Chris Grant, senior engineering manager of electronic systems.
The Tacoma’s JBL Flex Bluetooth Speaker and Dock is patented docking system that enables a detachable JBL speaker to function as one of 10 speakers in the vehicle’s premium audio system, or as a portable speaker with up to 10 hours of solid-state battery life. The waterproof speaker is charged while docked in the truck or via a USB port outside the vehicle.