Toyota Tacoma X-Runner: History, Concept, and Build Guide

Updated on Jan 26, 2024

When the average person thinks of the Toyota Tacoma, they’re likely reminded of the model's reputation for reliability, its off-road prowess, and its adventurous spirit. Rarely does the Tacoma evoke the notion of on-road performance, blistering cornering abilities, aggressive aero, or sporty suspension; however, that isn't to say that Toyota’s best-selling midsize hasn’t ever dabbled in street performance. The company recently debuted a concept harkening back to a previously discontinued trim level: the X-Runner. 

In light of the buzz surrounding this concept, we’re using this guide to cover Toyota’s X-Runner trim, including what it is, its history, and details of the all-new concept that debuted at the 2023 SEMA show. And in case the 4th-gen X-Runner never sees the light of day, we’re also including a build guide to transform your fourth-gen Tacoma into a wannabe X-Runner!

So sit down, buckle in, and stay tuned for our take on Toyota’s street-dominating pickup!

What is the Tacoma X-Runner?

The Toyota Tacoma X-Runner is a specialty trim produced between 2005 and 2014, engineered for on-road performance. But just what separates the model apart from a run-of-the-mill Tacoma?  

The X-Runner Tacoma, originally named for its chassis-stiffening X-brace, includes several factory-tuned modifications that gear the trim toward on-road performance rather than the model's characteristic off-road durability. Before getting into the specifics, let’s cover the trim’s roots.

A Humble Beginning: the Tacoma S-Runner (2000–2004)

In 2000, Toyota debuted the S-Runner: a sport-tuned trim inspired by the early 2000s mini-truck scene. Toyota noted the popularity of lowered 2WD pickups and devised a plan to offer a sporty iteration of its popular Tacoma from the factory! 

The S-Runner included such features as: 

  • 3.4L V6 engine pumping out 190 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque

  • Factory-installed 1-inch lowering kit with performance Tokico dampers and stiffened springs

  • Five-speed manual gearbox

  • Paint-matched bodywork

  • Performance exhaust system

A Refined Street Truck: the Tacoma X-Runner (2005–2015)

2005 saw the S-Runner's discontinuation in favor of a sportier, more refined replacement: The Toyota Tacoma X-Runner. This all-new trim included such standard features as: 

  • DOHC (dual overhead cam) 4.0L V6 engine pumping out a respectable 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque

  • Short-throw, six-speed manual gearbox

  • Limited-slip rear differential

  • Factory lowering kit with stiffer springs and dampers

  • Paint-matched exterior trim

  • X-Runner-specific body kit and hood scoop

Optional features included a factory-installed TRD supercharger, which boosts power numbers to 300 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque, and a TRD big-brake kit. All these modifications made the Tacoma X-Runner a monster on the street, with Toyota claiming that the midsize pickup could out-handle a Nissan 350Z on a track! 

The X-Runner even earned the title of Motor Trend’s Sports Truck of the Year in 2005, beating out such competitors as the Dodge Ram SRT-10 and redesigned Nissan Frontier.

The Return of an Icon: the 2023 Tacoma X-Runner Concept

Come 2015, the Tacoma X-Runner officially met its demise. The 2016 redesign did away with the exciting sports truck, making room for luxury and off-road trims. While the X-Runner never held an immense fanbase, due in part to its limited production run, dedicated fans mourned the loss of Toyota’s street-scorching midsize…until now. 

At the 2023 SEMA show, Toyota debuted an exciting new concept, revitalizing the dead X-Runner with an all-new powertrain, aggressive body styling, and impressive specs to match! While still just a concept, the on-paper numbers speak for themselves! 

The all-new X-Runner is based on the redesigned fourth-gen Tacoma, skipping the 3rd generation entirely. This concept features several enticing features, including: 

  • Modified i-FORCE 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 pumping out 421 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque

  • Beefy Tundra rear differential with 4.30 ratio and E-locker

  • Three-inch-widened track width

  • Factory air suspension

  • Tundra front suspension geometry and massive 13.9-inch brakes

  • 2.5-inch Bilstein dampers

  • 21x9.5 carbon-fiber/forged aluminum wheels wrapped in 285/45R21 Michelin Sport Tires

The new concept also sports striking, redesigned bodywork, aggressive black-housing lighting, red TRD bucket seats, and more!

Building Your Own 4th-Gen Tacoma X-Runner

Unfortunately, the redesigned X-Runner is nothing but a concept/promotional vehicle. While chances of seeing a new X-Runner in the near future are relatively slim, especially one sporting the same standard features as this innovative concept, that’s not to say you can't build your own! 

At RealTruck, we offer countless accessories to transform your run-of-the-mill Tacoma into a certified street machine. Though it won’t be an official X-Runner, you may just prefer the aesthetics and performance of our home-brewed counterpart!

Step 1: Selecting a Platform

For starters, we’ll need a platform to build upon. Like previous-generation X-Runners, we’ll want an Xtra-Cab, 2WD, manual transmission-equipped model, preferably a fourth-generation Tacoma, to take advantage of the turbocharged 2.4L i-FORCE 4-cylinder engine. The only trim available in the above configuration is the SR trim; however, the TRD Sport also comes in a 2WD, 6-speed variant if you don’t mind upgrading to the larger double cab.

Step 2: Underhood Performance

Though the 2.4L i-FORCE 4-cylinder engine found in the base Tacoma SR already puts out an impressive 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque (in 6-speed manual configuration), that’s not to say that those numbers can’t be improved! We offer several bolt-on performance adders, like air intakes, exhaust systems, and programmers.

Step 3: Suspension and Handling

The most vital aspect when building a mock Tacoma X-Runner is the suspension and handling; after all, the trim level was built to dominate corners and tracks! To improve your Tacoma’s handling, we recommended lowering your Tacoma’s center of gravity with a lowering kit, decreasing body roll with beefy aftermarket sway bars, and putting more rubber to the ground with a set of sticky all-season tires, like the Nitto 420V!

Step 4: Exterior Styling

With performance handled, it’s time to focus on aesthetics! The Tacoma X-Runner and X-Runner concepts both feature aggressive exterior styling, including dark-housing headlights, smoked taillights, hood scoops, fender flares, and sporty body kits. Check out our selections of each to transform your Tacoma from a run-of-the-mill pickup to an aggressive street machine!

Keep in mind that the fourth-gen Tacoma is an all-new chassis. While our current inventory for the fourth-generation Tacoma is limited, expect us to add several products in the first quarter of 2024! And as always, for additional questions and product inquiries, reach out to the experts!

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