browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

2013 Toyota Tacoma

The Augie’s Adventure Vehicle

2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab

Augies Adventures 2013 Toyota Tacoma

Every cowboy needs a trusty steed. Mine is a 2013 Toyota Tacoma V-6 Automatic 4X4 access cab. Late summer 2016 I proclaimed the build of the perfect adventure vehicle complete. Well, if such a thing is ever really done. There is always that one more little thing.

I purchased the slightly used 2013 Toyota Tacoma with only 16,800 miles. Since then I have been saving money and planning the build. Like with most things in life the build journey took a little longer, but she’s now ready for adventure.

The truck was built on the theme, “everything I need and nothing I don’t.” The Tacoma was built to increase its’ off-road capability without sacrificing on-road worthiness, without the extra bling that may increase the wow factor at the mall parking lot but serve little in the real use of the truck. The plan was based on building a truck able to comfortable travel long highway miles and confidently transverse the rough trails to the best camping, fishing and hunting locations.

Why a Toyota Tacoma?

When choosing what vehicle to purchase and build, I believe it is important to honestly assess the intended use of the vehicle.

  • 4×4 was a must – I travel off road way too often and would be stuck way too quick without it.
  • Track record of reliability – if Toyotas are anything, they are reliable.
  • Pickup truck vs. SUV. –I once owned a highly modified Jeep Cherokee. She was a beast when it came to rock crawling. However, I saw the interior degrade from hauling hunting, fishing and camping equipment. From the sharp edges of tree stands to the mud from decoys the interior took a real beating
  • .Toyota Tacoma
  • Access cab vs. Double cab. – The majority of my driving is either solo or with one passenger. Not very often do I haul more than two people. In trade the larger truck bed gives me more space to haul my gear. The access cab has seats for two more riders if needed and allows me to carry things like a sleeping bag or clothes that I don’t really want to toss in the back of the truck bed.
  • V-6 vs. 4 cylinder – More power, need I say more?
  • Automatic transmission vs. manual –I prefer an automatic transmission when off-roading and when dealing with Washington DC commuter traffic. I can still down shift to control downhill accents and when crawling over a rocky trail a two footed driver with an automatic is always a smoother driver.
  • Mid-sized truck vs. a full-sized truck – I spend a lot of time driving tight trails through the woods and I am able to fit the smaller truck in places a full-sized truck simply would not fit.

The Upgrades

Leer 100R cap

Leer Cap Yakima Rack

Leer Cap and Yakima rack installed. Time to go fishing.

For dry storage of the camping and other adventure gear, I turned to Leer and purchased the base model cap with one major upgrade. I added side opening windows. The side opening windows provide full access to the bed of the truck without resorting to crawling around inside the bed. And of course I installed a Yakama canoe/kayak rack on the roof of the cap. Full write up here.

ARB Front Bumper and Warn M800 Winch


When I began to research for a front bumper, the path always seemed to end at the same place. The ARB bumper is the standard that all other bumpers were compared against. I kept thinking, why get a bumper that claims to be as good as an ARB? Why not just get the ARB bumper. Other bumpers may cost less, but the ARB has the best fit and finish and is airbag compatible. Full write up here.

Alaska Road Trip

A little trail whoops on my last day in Alaska

A few years ago, my old Tacoma teetered on the brink of rolling off a mountain road ledge deep in the Alaskan forest. The winch on the truck saved the day. But in doing so, it was then I realized a winch is not one of the items to go cheap. When you need it, you have to be able to rely on its dependability. Warn Winches may cost a few dollars more than other winches but they are notorious for their reliability. The Warn M-8000 is the basic model and the workhorse of the Warn winch line up. For myself, I don’t need upgraded options like faster line draw, I just need it to work when I ask it to.

BudBuilt Skid Plates 


Avoiding breakdowns and protection from damage is the foundation to any vehicle build. While my Tacoma is not a beasty rock crawler, the 1/8 inch steel plates bolted to the frame protect the vulnerable underside of the truck against damage and costly repairs, not to mention possibly being left stranded far from help. – Full write up here

Old Man Emu (OME) Suspension

Old Man Emu suspension

For my intended use of the Tacoma, I needed a suspension that would handle the rough terrain, the increased weight of the truck and raise the ride height. I turned to OME because of their expertise with Toyotas and their proven track record in the Australian outback. I replaced the front coil springs with OME 660 lb rated springs and replaced the rear leaf springs with the OME Dakar heavy pack. The shocks were replaced with OME Nitrocharger Sport 4×4 shock absorbers. The suspension upgrade included a 3 degree shim for the rear springs and a spacer for the driveshaft carrier bearing to keep the correct driveshaft alignment and eliminate any possible driveline vibration. To finish the suspension, larger progressive bump stops were installed on both the front and rear of the truck. Full write up here.



Cooper tires

Cooper Tires had the tread design and size I knew would best fit the Tacoma. The Discoverer S/T Max is a commercial grade tire with super tough construction and a modern tread design that provides good off road traction while maintaining pavement stability and isn’t noisy on the road. Cooper is also one of the only companies that offer their tires in the perfect Tacoma size, 255/80R17. So far I have driven about 5,000 miles on the Cooper’s including some very muddy and rocky trails and the tires have performed flawlessly.

Rock Sliders


One of the most vulnerable areas of a vehicle when taken off the asphalt is the rocker panels along the side of the vehicle. With the added height of the truck the kayak and rood racks on top of the Leer cap are difficult to reach for a 5′ 10″ guy. To help in reaching the rack and to protect the underside of the truck, I turned to Trail Gear and purchased a set of bolt/weld on rock sliders. I had the trail gear sliders on the old Tacoma and they worked as required, so I went with them on the new truck. I turned to Vince and Nathan at Forge Specialties for the welding.

Augies Adventures Toyota Tacoma

Small things – Beyond the major changes to the truck, some of the easy and quick things like adding LED backup lights, extending the rear axle breather tube, relocating the trailer plug, mounting a 10-inch IPad  downloaded with maps in a cab of the truck complete a vehicle that I feel confident to take anywhere and return home safely.

Click on the imagines below for more information about the up grades and how the truck is working out so far.





budbuilt logo


budbuilt skid plates Toyota Tacoma

The Tacoma gets a little protection from BudBuilt