There are a ridiculous amount of trucks for sale in the United States. Americans love their trucks and the sales statistics prove it. In fact, pickup trucks have nabbed the top three spots for years, so it makes sense that any car maker who wants to compete in the United States for sales would make a truck or two to try and suck up some of the sales market in the United States. Toyota is no different. They are smart and they make great vehicles. They launched their own versions of the trucks that we so often see out on the roads and the American people have responded positively. The Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra have been wildly popular pickups, and have been able to make a name for themselves despite being two of many options available. The debate about which one is better for you rages on, but hopefully we can help bring some light to the features of each of these trucks so that you can make a better, informed decision. Tacomas have been around since they replaced the old Toyota pickups that were actually called the “Toyota Pickup” in 1995. The Tundra, which had its debut in 1999, is the larger pickup of the two and the Tacoma is the smaller/midsize pickup. The Tundra was the first full size pickup that Toyota had ever offered in North America and it was released to fully compete with the Chevy Silverado and the Ford F-150. The Toyota pickups are all assembled in San Antonio Texas and come with different options that will help you decide which truck is right for you.
Each of these trucks has a slightly different exterior look. The smaller Tacoma has an angular grill on the front that is more defined than the grill on the larger Tundra, which is actually bigger and blockier. The Tacoma also has a sleek and integrated bumper on the front and headlights that are more slanted which makes the truck appear sleeker on the front end compared to the Tundra. Most people notice when they look at the front end of the Tundra that there is a thin rectangular opening in the hood bulge that sits right above the grill. The Tundra also has larger headlights and a bumper that sticks out further than the Tacoma, which gives it its stocky appearance that’s become synonymous with the Tundra. The tailgates are pretty similar on both trucks and have lettering in different spots on the tailgate that are embossed. Some other features that are available on some of the Tacoma’s that make them look sportier and more aggressive are hood scoops and a honeycomb grill on the front. Some grills on different models come with a heritage grill that spells out the “Toyota” lettering instead of the traditional logo. The wheel wells on both trucks aren’t as square as the Silverado, but not as round as the F-150 either, so they’ve managed to fall somewhere in the middle with their appearance. Depending on what trim level you choose and what model, each truck will vary slightly in appearance and will come with different emblems and wheel options. Either way though- both of these trucks at any trim level are good looking and can stand on their own.
Both of these trucks have a pretty similar interior. There are plenty of features that come with these trucks like door locks, mirrors, power windows, and back up cameras. The Tundra depending on which cab you choose will fit five to six people, while the Tacoma will seat four to five depending on the cab chosen.
The new Tundras are pretty slick. They’ve had several interior updates that include a new 4.2-inch display gauge for the driver that puts off of the important vehicle information for the driver to view, front and center. You can get power seats and memory drivers seat options, along with leather seats if you’d like. The front seats come heated and cooled for your driving pleasure as well. It’s got some of the same interior options as the Tacoma (that will be listed below) for your entertainment needs. They also feel more luxurious than they are because the interior is so much bigger than the Tacoma, which makes sense because it’s a bigger truck. There is more legroom and the seats are spaced further apart and overall, there’s just more space and comfort in the Tundra vs. the Tacoma.
The Tacoma is obviously a smaller truck than the Tundra and the interior definitely feels like it. It’s not as spacious, but it is just as nice as the Tundra in other respects. There were some updates and upgrades to how the interior was built which has been great, because before the upgrades the Tacoma’s interior felt a little cheap and flimsy. Now, it feels better made, more robust and more expensive. The Tacoma also has been designed with enhanced aerodynamics to reduce wind noise and has been sealed all the way around the truck from cab-to-bed. You can also choose to upgrade to leather seats and heated front seats. It also has a touch screen, which is featured on the dash, but some have been critical of the fact that it does not come with the Android Auto, or Apple Carplay included which is a serious drawback for anyone with a smartphone (we are pretty sure Toyota will quickly fix that with newer models that come out, after all seems like everyone has a smartphone and they are here to stay). It does come with a USB port, 12-volt outlet, Bluetooth, Voice command, and an auxiliary output though. If you are one of those folks who likes to take your truck out for a little bit of off roading, then you may appreciate the GoPro mount that has been integrated right into the windshield. In some respects, it seems like they have thought of everything.
Both trucks have advanced safety features like smart stop technology, vehicle stability control, ABS, brake assist, and traction control that is included in their Toyota Star Safety System. They also both come with the Toyota Safety Sense P system that has a dynamic radar cruise control, pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind spot monitors, lane departure alert with a warning system that alerts you when you start to drift, and automatic high beams. It’s clear that Toyota cares about your safety when you are driving one of their trucks, which is something we totally appreciate.
What about Off-Road and Performance Capabilities?
This is where the comparison between the two trucks gets fun. Both trucks are full of awesome capabilities and performance, but it will be interesting to see how the two stack up to each other. Hauling and towing massive amounts has not been a problem for either of these vehicles. The Tacoma has a new six-speed transmission instead of the old five-speed manual transmission, which has been a nice change. The basic engine size for the Tacoma also is a 4-cylinder engine with 180 lb. of torque and 159 horsepower. Another option for the Tacoma has 278 horsepower and 265 lb. of torque in the V6 engine. This is a pretty tough little truck that’s build out of high-strength steel. It also boasts electronically locking rear differential and Bilstein shocks or special-tuned Internal Bypass FOX shocks, which will make any off-roading trip a smooth ride and give the truck better ground clearance and more flexibility. If that weren’t enough though, the OffRoad series is already built to hit the trails with a Multi-Terrain Select system which will allow someone to pick one of five different options to regulate engine throttle and traction control based on driving conditions. When you pair that with crawl control and hill start assist, it’s a winning combination. Some models also come with a skid plate installed to protect the vehicle from obstacles like rocks that are often found on the trail. On this same model you get a specialty cat-back exhaust that enhances the look of the truck but also gives the truck enhanced efficiency and an awesome sound.
Differences in Drive Train
The drive train is important for figuring out how much a truck can tow, how much pay load it can carry, how well it can tow and what it can tow. Transmissions and engines, if they are not built to tow a lot of weight around will be come sluggish and slow and will most likely develop cooling problems because of the stress placed on them. You definitely want to be sure you have the right truck for the job when it comes to towing and hauling heavy amounts of weight around for any specified period of time.
The Tacoma historically has come with a V6 or in-line 4. Most of the newer models though have the V6 because the Tacoma has grown in popularity and needed to be equip with a bigger and stronger engine so that it could be used for heavy work. The tow rating is about 6,500 lbs. for the Tacoma’s with a V6. These little trucks have been increasingly used as little work trucks that can get the job done.
The Tundra has always been equipped for heavy towing and has come with either a V6 or a V8. Both of them also have the option of jumping the torque and horsepower up a massive amount by having a supercharger added. The Tundra is a hearty truck that will keep going and power through even the heaviest tow job. It’s sturdy, strong and the capabilities are pretty impressive.
Whether you choose the V6 or V8 you can’t go wrong. The V8 is obviously more powerful but is also less fuel-efficient than the V6, so you may want to take that into consideration if you drive a lot and commute. There are going to be some pros and cons to either truck depending on your needs and personal situation.
What Do They Cost?
This is the million-dollar question. Luckily, the price of these trucks won’t even tough that figure. We can give you some generals as far as cost, but the cost is always going to vary depending on seller motivation, negotiating skills, location, mileage, condition of the truck etc. Always do your homework and cost comparisons. Your prices locally will probably vary a lot and who knows, if you search long enough you may be able to find a killer deal. The Tacoma usually runs about $5500 less for the base model than the Tundra. Both offer the base model in the mid-high $20k’s but assuming you want to deck out your truck at all and add some of the nice options, you can easily pay somewhere in the $40k’s for your truck. Granted, that’s brand new off the lot. Toyotas generally keep their value pretty well and we are pretty sure if you do a little bit of looking, you can find a nearly brand-new truck with low miles on it and you can pick it up for a steal of a deal if you go to the right lot. We’d have no problem picking up a used Toyota truck and saving some of the initial depreciation that happens when you drive a brand-new vehicle off the lot. But- that’s just our opinion. Do whatever you are most comfortable with.
What Are Your Needs?
When you are trying to compare the two and decide what truck is best for your needs, it’s important to figure out what you want to use the truck for. There are quite a few people who own a pick up truck in America that don’t actually functionally need a pickup truck, but still have one anyway. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We love pick up trucks and would own one whether or not we needed to haul anything. If you don’t actually need a truck for truck-like duties, then you can purely make your decision off of other factors like how the truck looks. However, if you do need a truck for truck-like duties then there are some factors you may want to consider. If you are big into off-roading and carrying around ATV’s or other machines out to go ride then you may want a Tacoma because they are smaller and will allow you to get on smaller trails that a Tundra may prohibit because of it’s size. Tacoma’s are also much more fuel efficient and may be a good option for someone who wants a truck, but doesn’t necessarily need to haul full time, or if you are commuting and plan to drive a lot. You’ll be happy you chose the more fuel-efficient option.
If you are concerned about making a decision based around towing, then the question to ask is how much do you plan to tow? If you are planning to tow over 4,000 lbs. then you will want a Tundra with the more powerful V8 engine that was actually designed to tow more and can do it easily. When the Tundra is property equip then it has a towing capacity of up to 10,000 lbs. If you are planning to tow less that 4,000 then you can get away with the Tacoma. When the Tacoma is properly equip though, then it can tow up to 6,800 but that is where it max’s out.
Either way, no matter what you choose, these are both great trucks that will fit your needs. The Tacoma is unique in the fact that it basically created the light duty and medium duty pick up truck market. Previously, the only trucks are the market were your full size, heavy-duty trucks. Once the Tacoma came to town and car manufacturers saw that there was a great market for these types of trucks then they all started to take notice. In fact, Chevy launched their new Canyon to be a direct competitor to the Tacoma and try to capitalize on the opportunity that Tacoma presented to get a share of the market.
The Tundra is an all around great full size truck. It was originally designed to replace the Toyota T100 which was the full size pickup truck offered by Toyota at the time. The T100 wasn’t a raving success. It was smaller than it’s competition and people didn’t gravitate towards the T100 like they did the bigger counterparts that were offered at the time. As an interesting side note, when the Tundra was initially launched by Toyota, it wasn’t called Tundra. They had named it the T150 because it was supposed to be a beefed up version of the T100 with some added benefits. But as you can imagine, that didn’t sit well with Ford who long had made its name around the F-Series trucks and more specifically the F150. Ford lobbed a lawsuit over to Toyota, and after some deliberation, Toyota surrendered and renamed the T150- the Tundra. You can’t go wrong with either of these trucks. It will be up to you to figure out what your needs and desires are and then go with the truck that is best equip to fulfill those needs.