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Lighting Up the Horizon with Tacoma Lighting

Lighting Up the Horizon with Tacoma Lighting

The sun sets to the west, and the sky in front grows darker. You’ve never been on this particular trail, nor has the rest of the convoy that’s right on your heels. You continue your march forward, into the unknown. Now almost pitch black, you are heavily relying on your Tacoma’s lighting system to help safely carry you to your next location. Truth be told, Toyota has a done a good job providing the Tacoma with excellent exterior lighting options, especially on the TRD models. But for adventures like this, where the only light present is coming from your pickup, there’s always room for improvement. In the guide below, we dive into Tacoma’s stock lighting equipment and aftermarket upgrades at that will your pickup better light up the trail.

Shop Tacoma Off-Road & On-Road Lighting

Lights are an integral part of any camping or overlanding trip. Outfitting your Tacoma with brighter headlights, auxiliary light bars, and even some light guards in case of unforeseen accidents will ensure you'll never be navigating blindly.

Tacoma Lighting >>

The Toyota Tacoma Lighting System – What OEM Has to Offer

Toyota didn’t go above and beyond with the base Tacoma’s exterior lighting system, but that’s not to say it’s subpar to other models on the road. Besides, there’s plenty of Taco drivers on the road that will never have the need for serious lighting on the trail, but they are missing out on the fun.

Out front, the standard Tacoma gets a set of projector-beam headlights with Daytime Running Lights (DRL), which do a plenty fine job of lighting up normal nighttime roads or light off-road trails at moderate speeds, meaning you’re going to want some upgrades if you’re wanting to tackle sand whoops at redline pace. Fog lights are absent on the lower-end Taco models.

Like various other components on the truck, the TRD models get upgraded headlights in the form of projector-beam LED headlights with DRLs, offering up a bit more clarity of what the night time trails in front of you hold. The TRD models also come standard with fog lights that are enclosed in aluminum housings for a bit of extra protection. Great, but still not the best for driving technical trails in serious darkness.

Replacing the Tacoma’s Stock Lighting – LEDs vs HIDs vs Halogens

It’s time to start replacing your Taco’s lighting, but there are various options. You’re okay with the stock capabilities, but more power wouldn’t hurt. Should you choose to replace with Halogen, LED, or HID lighting?

Halogen Lighting


  • Stock equipment (on non TRD models)
  • Low cost in comparison to others
  • Extremely long lasting


  • High energy consumption

The majority of vehicles in the United States come equipped with halogen lights—and for good reason. Halogen bulbs are incredibly durable, often lasting for years before needing replacement.

These standard equipment bulbs offer plenty of light for average drivers and are cheap to replace when one goes bad. If you’re okay with your Toyota’s stock lighting system, low on budget, or don’t have many aspirations to take your pickup on a serious off-road adventure, halogens are likely your best option.

LED Lighting


  • Brighter than halogen lighting
  • Doesn’t glare like HID lighting
  • Energy efficient


  • Expensive cost compared to halogen
  • Complications with cooling system

LED lighting is becoming standard equipment in the automotive industry, even being offered on the TRD models. Why exactly? LEDs offer better lighting than halogens without creating a ruthless glare that’s common on HIDS, meaning they find a middle ground between the two.

Energy efficiency goes a long way for LEDs too, with this type putting less stress on your Taco’s engine, allowing other engine assemblies to use the power for better performance. This type of lighting is a great option for Tacoma owners looking for a little more brightness, without going overboard. LEDs will prove a great investment on and off-road.

HID Lighting 


  • Brightest of all headlights
  • Best range of illumination
  • Low energy consumption


  • Strong glare can blind traffic
  • Expensive cost compared to halogen

If you’re looking for the brightest of the brightest, look no further than HID lighting. Not only does HID offer the brightest illumination, but it also offers the widest range, meaning it will do a better job of lighting the roads surroundings than other options. 

That kind of illumination does come with disadvantages though. In particular, HIDs create a strong glare that can irritate oncoming traffic. They’re also a more expensive option than halogens when replacement is needed but tend to last almost twice as long. If you’re out to build a dedicated off-road rig where nighttime trail wanderings are a norm, HID lighting is going to be your best bet.

Valuable Lighting Add-ons for your Tacoma

So, you want a little more brightness, whether it’s for full-throttle off-roading through the desert or conquering slow technical trails in the backwoods. Heck, maybe it’s just for daily driving in serious weather conditions. Whichever it is, there’s plenty of options out there to give you more brightness, better illumination coverage, and more piece of mind.

Light Bars: Wanting big results in the illumination department? Light bars are hands down the best option. These add-ons often mount to the roof of your pickup, focusing its light far in the distance, which is perfect for nighttime off-roading. More often than not, light bars are too bright to bright to be used on public roads, so be aware when switching it on.

Additional Fog Lights: An inexpensive way to improve lighting (and not to mention confidence) in harsh weather is by adding on a set of aftermarket fog lights to your trusty Tacoma. Most kits are easily self-installed, often fitting to the front bumper for a painless process. Besides fog, adding a set of these lights will extend the range of your Tacoma’s illumination, helping point out rocks, roots, and wildlife before any sort of impact.

Front Light Mount Bars: If you’re after the full Baja look while adding to your truck’s lighting system, we have the solution. The answer here is a light mount bar attached to the front of your Tacoma. Most bars mounted here fit up to four round-shaped auxiliary lights, which add much needed lighting power for off-road use.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro