Hardcore Toyota Tacoma Suspension Options
Long-Travel IFS and SAS
By Kevin Blumer, Photography by Courtesy of the Manufacturers, Kevin Blumer, Phil Howell
When the Tacoma was introduced in the middle of 1995, Toyota traditionalists were skeptical. The ’79-to-’95 pickups were long proven as rugged, dependable trucks even if they were so slow they’d lose a drag race with a refrigerator. The Tacoma models brought a new generation of engines and a new chassis to the Toyota stable.
Today, we’re in the twilight of 2012 and the Tacoma is now a proven truck that’s more than capable of holding its own in the dirt. Tacoma engines are much more powerful than the old iron. The Toyota Tacoma is a truck worthy of suspension upgrades.
If you’d like to take your Tacoma’s front suspension to the next level, you’ve got options and we’re here to present them. For the sake of continuity, were sticking to six-lug 4x4 models in this story.
Please note that none of the coilover kits come standard with shocks, although coilovers can be ordered through each suspension manufacturer.
Hardcore Tacoma suspension can be sliced into two main categories: long-travel A-arms (IFS) and solid axle swaps (SAS). If you’re building an all-around truck and want more wheel travel and better high-speed stability, a long-travel IFS upgrade is your best bet. If you want performance in the rocks and simplicity above all else, it’s hard to beat a swapped-in solid front axle.
Solid axles and leaf springs are a proven combination for hardcore ‘wheeling and rockcrawling, and Trail-Gear offers its Tacoma solid axle swap (SAS) kit in three different levels. The Trail-Gear SAS kits are for the ’96-to-’04 first-generation Tacoma models. Go for the “A” kit and source your own axle and steering box, or upgrade to the Trail-Gear “B” or “C” kit to find something more inclusive. Whichever option you choose (the “C” kit is shown), you’ll have a pre-engineered kit that takes the guess work out of a solid axle swap. Cutting, grinding, and welding are all required. It’s a straightforward process, but it’s still major surgery.
By Kevin Blumer
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