Is there any kind of vehicle that Americans love more than their pickup trucks? Well, they do like a good SUV too, but the pickup truck remains the best-selling vehicle format year on year.
While SUVs are soaring in popularity, the good old pickup truck remains the best-selling vehicle format in the US year on year. With their body on frame constructions that make them great off-roaders and superior towing power, it’s the versatility of modern pickups that makes them so popular.
It’s not just American brands that are doing well in the marketplace, either. Japanese giant Toyota has a lot of skin in the pickup truck game, and their legendary reliability makes them especially compelling. If you’re in the market for a new Toyota truck, this article will help you choose between two of the most popular models, the Toyota Tacoma and the Toyota Tundra.
The Toyota Tundra is a full-size pickup truck, whereas the Toyota Tacoma is a smaller mid-size pickup. While the Tacoma is a capable and tough truck, the Tundra has just entered its third generation in 2022, making it the more sophisticated and exciting Toyota truck.
The Toyota Tacoma is the more budget-friendly of the two models, starting at $26,700 for the base-level SR trim. There are 5 other trim levels on top of that, namely: SR5 (from $28,490), TRD Sport (from $33,610), TRD Off-Road (from $34,890), Limited (from $39,455) and the TRD Pro (from $46,135). It seems, therefore, that there is a Tacoma to match just about every budget.
The Toyota Tundra starts higher at $35,950 for the SR base trim and has 4 other available trim levels on top of that, namely: the SR5 (from $40,755), Limited (from $46,850), Platinum (from $56,990), 1794 Edition (from $57,690). Two further trims, the TRD Pro and the Capstone are scheduled for release in the 2022 model year, but no pricing information has been confirmed.
Since both the Tacoma and the Tundra are within the Toyota pickup truck family, it’s hardly surprising to see that they do share a few design cues. Having said that, the Tundra does have a noticeably more aggressive and imposing front-end design with its larger grille, strong metallic trims, larger standard wheels, and selection of larger rear beds.
Looking at exterior styling further, the Tacoma has somewhat more rounded edges and a “softer” overall demeanor compared to the somewhat boxier and more imposing Tundra.
The Toyota Tacoma truck is available as a 5- or 6-foot cargo bed lengths. Get the longer bed and you’ll have the Access Cab, which only has 2 doors and squeezes in 2 extra passenger seats behind the front row of seats. If a bigger cab size is important, get the Double Cab which offers seating for 5 and 4 doors.
The Toyota Tundra truck comes with 5.5, 6.6, and 8.1 feet beds as options. The 6.6 and 8.1 feet beds are available with the decently sized double cab. But the Tundra’s ace up its sleeve is the CrewMax cab that is paired with a 5.5-ft bed, which offers an incredibly roomy interior.
Moving inside, it’s not that surprising to find that higher prices on the Toyota Tundra equate to a vastly improved interior. The new generation of Tundra models, especially at the higher trims, have gone all out with wood accents, soft-touch materials, an optional 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, tons of storage, as well as a fresh, bold new look that matches the powerful exterior.
The Tacoma’s interior is more of the same you’d expect from Toyota, which isn’t in itself bad, but perhaps just a bit tired and predictable, especially when put next to the new Tundra. The Toyota Tacoma still feels a bit cramped inside, only sitting 4 adults comfortably. The rear storage bed is more than sufficient, but the interior storage and looks are a bit lackluster.
The Toyota Tacoma comes with 4 powertrain options, starting with the standard 2.7L 4-cylinder 2WD unit paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission outputting 159-hp and 180 lb-ft of torque.
A second option is a 4WD version of the same engine. The other 2 options are also a 2WD and 4WD pair, a 3.5L V6 paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The V6 engine outputs up to 278-hp and 265 lb-ft of torque.
The Tundra only offers the bigger 3.5L twin-turbo V6, either in 2WD or 4WD. The unit is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and is boosted by the i-FORCE hybrid technology that helps it deliver up to 437-hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.
The Toyota Tundra offers a lot more in the way of horsepower, but both of them are well-matched with good suspension, damping, and mean tires for off-roading adventure. On the road, the Tundra’s coil-spring rear suspension and improved steering and handling capabilities make it the better Toyota truck for driving on regular roads.
As pure off road vehicles, things become a bit more complicated. While the Tundra produces more power, the Tacoma’s more compact size and angle differences make it more adept at traversing unpredictable terrain.
For payload capacity, the larger beds of the Toyota Tundra are equipped to carry more goods and equipment, up to 2,290-lbs in fact, compared to just 1,685-lbs on the smaller Toyota Tacoma.
The Tundra vastly outdoes the Tacoma when it comes to towing capacity, too. The Tacoma gets up to 6,800-lbs maximum, whereas the Tundra gets up to 12,000-lbs. That’s 1,800-lbs more maximum towing capacity than the previous 2021 Tundra.
As for how fuel efficient the Toyota trucks are, they both perform about the same on average, despite the differences in size. The Toyota Tacoma can get 18-mpg in the city, and 22-mpg on the highway.
The Toyota Tundra gets 17-mpg in the city, and 22-mpg on the highway, so they’re well matched. We’re unaware yet of what the new Tundra trim levels will achieve.
Technology & Features
We mentioned above that the new Tundra has a well-updated interior, which at the higher trim levels also features a very smart 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The infotainment system in the Tundra has also been upgraded with Toyota’s all-new 14-inch screen known as the Human Machine Interface (HMI). It’s the most advanced version of infotainment Toyota has ever offered, and makes the Tacoma’s more dated and smaller screen with its dials and buttons feel outmatched.
The Toyota Tundra also gets wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, premium JBL audio options, trailer backup guide, wireless charging and more. Everything in the Toyota Tacoma feels dated compared to this, with Toyota highlighting just USB ports, surround-view monitor (which Tundra also has), and dual-zone climate controls. Those wanting more special features will pay extra for the Tacoma.
Both the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma come with Toyota Safety Sense, the Tacoma with version P, and the Tundra with the newer version 2.5.
Both include a pre-collision warning system, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, and automatic high beams. The Tundra’s 2.5 version also gets lane tracing assist and road sign recognition.
The Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup whose biggest competitors include the Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, and Nissan Frontier. The bigger Tundra goes up against the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and Chevy Silverado.
The clearest divisions between the two are in size, power, technology, and features. The Toyota Tacoma is a solid pickup truck, available at a more affordable price. Those who need a great off-roader without all the fancy bells and whistles will do great with a more-than-capable Tacoma.
Those who want a substantially roomier cab and a high-tech festival of cutting-edge features will have to shell out more money to get the Tundra.
|2022 Toyota Tacoma||2022 Toyota Tundra|
|Engine||2.7L Inline-4 Gas||3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas|
|Horsepower||159 hp @ 5200 rpm||348 hp @ 5200 rpm|
|Torque||180 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm||405 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm|
|Transmission||6-Speed Automatic||10-Speed Automatic|
|Drivetrain||Rear-Wheel Drive||Four-Wheel Drive|
|Rear Wheel Size||P245/75SR16||P245/75TR18|
|Front Wheel Size||P245/75SR16||P245/75TR18|
|Turning Diameter (ft.)||40.6||48.6|
|MPG/MPGe - Hwy||23||23|
|MPG/MPGe - City||20||17|
|MPG/MPGe - Combined||21||19|
|Gas Tank Size (gallons)||21.1||22.5|
|Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)||485.3||517.5|
|Size and Weight|
|Max Width (in.)||74.4||80.2|
|Front Seat Leg Room (in.)||42.9||41.2|
|Front Seat Head Room (in.)||39.7||41.0|
|Front Seat Hip Room (in.)||57.2||62.6|
|Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||58.3||65.0|
|Rear Seat Leg room (in.)||24.6||33.3|
|Rear Seat Head Room (in.)||34.9||38.9|
|Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)||51.7||60.5|
|Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||56.5||63.4|
|HD Radio||Not Available||Standard|
|Entertainment System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Sound System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Auxiliary Audio Input||Standard||Standard|
|Smart Device Integration||Standard||Standard|
|Hard Disk Drive Media Storage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Vinyl Seats||Standard||Not Available|
|Leather Seats||Standard||Not Available|
|Premium Synthetic Seats||Standard||Not Available|
|Sun/Moonroof||Not Available||Not Available|
|Leather Steering Wheel||Not Available||Not Available|
|Woodgrain Interior Trim||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat Memory||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat-Massage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Keyless Start||Not Available||Standard|
|Multi-Zone A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Climate Control||Not Available||Not Available|
|Head-Up Display||Not Available||Not Available|
|Automatic Parking||Not Available||Not Available|
|Navigation System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Driver Seat||Not Available||Not Available|
|Cooled Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Hands-Free Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Engine Start||Not Available||Standard|
|Cooled Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Passenger Seat||Not Available||Not Available|
|Remote Trunk Release||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Steering Wheel||Not Available||Not Available|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||Standard||Standard|
|Navigation from Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Universal Garage Door Opener||Not Available||Not Available|
|Steering Wheel Audio Controls||Standard||Standard|
|Night Vision||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear Parking Aid||Not Available||Not Available|
|Blind Spot Monitor||Not Available||Standard|
|Cross-Traffic Alert||Not Available||Standard|
|Lane Keeping Assist||Not Available||Not Available|
|Tire Pressure Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Departure Warning||Standard||Standard|
|Knee Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Driver Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Seatbelt Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Passenger Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Side Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Front Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Basic||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||3 Years / 36,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||5 Years / Unlimited Miles||5 Years / Unlimited Miles|
|Drivetrain||5 Years / 60,000 Miles||5 Years / 60,000 Miles|
|Maintenance||2 Years / 25,000 Miles||2 Years / 25,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||2 Years / Unlimited Miles||2 Years / Unlimited Miles|