Toyota Tacoma Sport Suspension vs Off-Road Suspension | A Comparative Discussion

Toyota Tacoma Sports uses Hitachi shock, whereas the Off-Road version uses Bilstein off-road shocks. The Sports suspension is called “Sports Tuned Suspension” by Toyota. On the other hand, “TRD Off-Road tuned suspension” is named for the Off-Road trim.

The Sports one gives a firmer feel and is designed for typical on-road for flawless running. On the other hand, the off-road suspension is designed to perform in rough terrains by handling the terrains smoothly.

In this guide, we will discuss both Toyota Tacoma Sports and Off-Road suspension by comparing their using aspects. Stick till the end to learn more.

Key Takeaways:

Before going into details, here is an overview of the guide. Let’s check what you will get after going through the entire article at a glance.

  • The suspension type of both Toyota Tacoma Sport and TRD Off-Road
  • The category of the suspensions
  • The brand of the shock absorbers of both models

Comparison Table: Toyota Tacoma Sport vs Off-Road Suspension

The following comparison table shows the basic similarities and differences between Toyota Tacoma Sports and Off-Road suspension.

ParameterToyota Tacoma Sports SuspensionToyota Tacoma Off-Road Suspension
Suspension StructureFront: Double-wishbone with coil spring.
Rear: Leaf spring standard for 4 wheelers.
Front: Double-wishbone with coil spring.
Rear: Leaf spring standard for 4 wheelers.
Shock Absorber BrandHitachi (Since 2016), Bilstein (Before 2016).Bilstein.
Shock Absorber TypeHitachi Blue shock on-road tuned (Since 2016), and Bilstein on-road tuned (Before 2016).Bilstein off-road tuned.
CategorySport-tuned suspension.TRD Off-Road tuned suspension.

Toyota Tacoma Sport vs. Off-Road Suspension: Side-By-Side Comparison

Before understanding the differences between these two suspensions on both trims, we have to understand the similarities first. Because, the suspension structure is exactly the same for both Toyota Tacoma Sports, and Toyota Tacoma Off-Road.

The Similarities: Suspension Structure Details

The similarities between both suspension structure is discussed below.

● Front Suspension Structure of Toyota Tacoma Sports and Off-Road

Both Tacoma Trims use double-wishbone front suspension. This suspension is associated with a coil spring. Also, there is a stabilizer bar for stabilization in turning.

The double-wishbone suspension is a type of suspension that is connected between the chassis of the vehicle and the steering knuckle. It is like wishbone arms and are called “double A-arms.”

Toyota Tacoma double wishbone suspension

[Figure 01: Double wishbone suspension]

This allows the wheels to perform independently. It is because there are ball joints in both the upper and lower arm ends. By the way, the suspension shock dampening is controlled by the shock absorber and coil spring. The stabilizer bar here keeps your Tacoma’s body controlled from swaying.

● Rear Suspension Structure of Toyota Tacoma Sports and Off-Road

For the rear suspension, both Tacoma Sport and the Off-Road use standard leaf spring rear suspension. The leaf spring suspension is a type of semi-elliptical spring, also called a carriage spring or laminated spring.

And this suspension is associated with staggered outboard-mounted gas shock absorbers. The rear suspension also added a stabilizer bar.

Toyota Tacoma leaf spring rear suspension

[Figure 02: Leaf spring rear suspension]

As from the figure above, you can see that the “leaves” are attached to each other with some center bolts. Basically, leaf springs are the standard suspension system used for four-wheelers’ rear suspension.

The Differences of Suspension Systems in Both of the Tacoma Trims

The structure of the suspension system is the same for both trims. But the main differences are in the shock absorbers and suspension category of both trims.

Toyota Tacoma Sports vs. Off-Road Suspensions’ Shock Absorbers:

The differences between the shock absorbers of both trims are discussed as follows.

● Toyota Tacoma Sports Shock Absorber

The Tacoma TRD Sport has been using Hitachi on-road shock absorber since 2016, the 3rd gen of Tacoma Sport. This means it is more likely designed for a faster run, with a stiffer feel from the suspension.

Before that, Toyota had used on-road shock absorbers from Bilstein from 1995 to 2015 model years in Toyota Tacoma TRD Sports. As a result, it is more capable of running on smooth runways than off-road. Though it still can be operated off-road, you will experience a lot more jarring.

● Toyota Tacoma Off-Road Shock Absorber

Unlike Tacoma Sports, Toyota Tacoma Off-Road used off-road tuned shock absorbers to control the operation on off-road. So, the dampening is smooth in the Off-Road trim, which is reliably controllable in rough terrains.

Toyota used an off-road-tuned shock absorber from Bilstein which ensures deep dampening of jarring. Consequently, the feel is smooth on the off-road trails when you hit the trail with your Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road.

By the way, though Toyota claims they installed Bilstein 4600s off-road shock in the TRD Off-Road, actually, this is a fake claim. Though the shock is from Bilstein, the exact model isn’t mentioned in the shock. The shock outer tube diameter is 40mm.

Despite this, you will get decent damping from the stock shock. After everything, if you are not satisfied with the stock suspension performance, you can go for an aftermarket lift. For this, getting knowledge about How To Lift a Toyota Tacoma will be beneficial.

Category of Toyota Tacoma Sport and Off-Road Suspensions

The foremost difference between the Toyota Tacoma Sport vs. Off-road is the suspension category. Since the Sport is an on-road trim by Tacoma, the suspension gets a stiffer suspension design.

It is called Sport-tuned suspension, which is designed to give a stiffer feel but a faster run. So, the car will be jarring in rough terrain but more geared on the highway and on-road. Also, you will see a slightly large sway in the Tacoma Sport model.

On the other hand, the Toyota Tacoma Off-Road has a TRD Off-Road tuned suspension. This is designed to perform in rough terrain and handle the jarring smoothly. So, you can control the Tacoma Off-road in harsh terrains and trails easily, which is not possible with the Sport one.


If you are confused about both suspensions, here are some relevant questions answered to help you.

Which one used better suspension: Tacoma Sport or the Tacoma Off-Road?

This is correlative. The Tacoma Sport is designed for on-road, and so is its suspension. Hence, you won’t get off-road dampening from its suspension, but enough performance for the highway. On the other hand, the Tacoma Off-Road is designed for rough trails. So, it will give you smooth dampening when you hit the rough trails.

What are the tire sizes of the Toyota Tacoma Sport and Off-Road?

The Toyota Tacoma Sport uses 17-inch wheels. It ensures a longer spin on-road. On the other hand, the Toyota Tacoma Off-Road uses 16-inch wheels that are perfect for controlling off-road.


Though both the Toyota Tacoma Sport and the TRD Off-Road use the same suspension type, the shock absorbers they use are different. So, the shock in both trims creates the difference here.

You will get a comparatively stiffer shock in the Tacoma Sport, whereas the Tacoma Off-Road is powered by a softer shock. So, choosing between both depends on your preference of trail. However, after choosing your desired trim, you can check for How to Improve Gas Mileage on Toyota Tacoma for better fuel economy.

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