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Battle of the Brothers: Tacoma vs. Tundra

We’re comparing the Tacoma and Tundra to ensure you get the right amount of truck. Find out which Toyota truck makes the most sense for you.

A sibling rivalry isn’t always just about who’s better, it’s about who is better at what. That’s why we’re diving deep into Toyota’s Tacoma and Tundra to bring you the very best analysis of what truck does the most of what you need. See what both trucks have to offer here to help you better decide if the extra money is worth it.

The Tacoma: Toyota’s Best-Selling Midsize Pickup

Also known as the Taco, the Tacoma is a midsize truck worth recognizing as it continues to be one of America’s most idolized pickups. Here are some quick stats to know about the Tacoma before we dive deep into the nitty-gritty.

Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma on netcarshow.com

Quick Stats

  • Drivetrain: RWD / 4WD
  • Combined Fuel Efficiency: 21 / 20 mpg
  • Range: 422 / 380 miles
  • Horsepower: 159 @ 5200 rpm / 278 @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque: 1800 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm / 265 ft-lbs. @ 4600 rpm

The Purpose of the Tacoma

The Tacoma is considered a midsize truck, weighing in at a little over 4,000 lbs., but it packs enough power for almost anything. The maximum towing capacity ranges from 3,500 lbs. to 6,500 lbs. depending on the trim level and drivetrain package you choose. The payload capacity ranges from 1,300 lbs. to 1,600 lbs., again based on the package you choose, which gives you a decent amount of weight to play with when loading up at the home development store or helping a friend move down the street.

Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma on netcarshow.com

With a departure angle of 23° and a ground clearance of 9.4 inches, you can imagine why Tacomas have established themselves as an off-road truck. Compare the Tacoma to a Jeep Wrangler, another off-road centric vehicle, and you’ll find a better departure angle on the Tacoma and only a slight decrease in ground clearance by 1.4 inches. Not too shabby for a vehicle that can do both work and play.

Overall, the Tacoma is a great option for those who don’t need to move a mountain but still want adventure and utility. Whether you find yourself lost in the desert or find yourself in big city traffic, the Tacoma may be your best bet at a rational adventure vehicle.

The Tundra: The Bigger the Better

We live in a world where bigger is (most of the time) better and the Tundra is no different. This full-size truck has everything you need to get what you need done while maintaining reliability for years to come. Here are few of the details about the Tundra:

Toyota Tundra
Toyota Tundra @loyaltytoyota

Quick Stats

  • Drivetrain: RWD / 4WD
  • Combined Fuel Efficiency: 15 / 14 mpg
  • Range: 343 / 494 city miles or 450 / 646 highway miles
  • Horsepower: 381 @ 5600 rpm
  • Torque: 401 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm

The Purpose of the Tundra

Obviously, there’s a big difference between a full-size truck and a midsize truck. The Tundra is a powerful hunk of metal that does impressive work on and off the worksite. The towing capacity sits at around 10,000 lbs. no matter what Tundra package you choose, so you won’t go without your toys, tools, or equipment. The payload is roughly 1600 lbs. max, which doesn’t outpace the Tacoma, but still provides its drivers with enough space to inside and outside the cabin to haul goods and passengers.

2020 Tundra
2020 Tundra @JimBaganToyota

Though you don’t see Tundras in the backcountry often, the ground clearance, 10.6 inches, and the angle of departure, 17, are better than you’d expect. When you put it all together, the Tundra is more of a workhorse than a good time. It may be reliable, but its fuel efficiency only decreases with added weight in the bed or cabin. The Tundra is meant to be your sidekick when towing, hauling, or carrying heavy items, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense for anyone else who only does those things once in a blue moon.

No Losers Here. Just Different.

You won’t find a loser between the Toyota Tacoma and its big brother the Tundra. There are big differences between the two, mostly in towing capacity and functionality, but they both offer their own unique benefits and utility. If you find yourself hauling heavy equipment or a trailer regularly, the Tundra is worth the extra seven thousand plus dollars. But if you’re interested in something that has reasonable utility, relatively decent gas mileage, and the option for adventure you should find yourself behind the wheel of a Tacoma. It’s as simple as identifying what you need and then choosing the truck that fits those needs best. Pretty easy, right?

Tacoma and Tundra

Which one would you choose? The Tundra or the Tacoma? Let us know in the comments below!

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Erin Maxson

Erin loves nothing more than a good road trip. To her, getting behind the wheel is one of the biggest adventures you can take because it can lead to anywhere. Alongside her Toyota Tundra, you'll find her co-pilot pup, Rory, and a 1976 Airstream Argosy in tow. Her motto: Life is a scenic road, take your time and enjoy the ride.

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  1. Ron W February 9, 2020

    Tundra definitely, I have a 2010 that is amazing and takes us and our camper anywhere 🙂

    1. Carsforsale.com Team February 10, 2020

      That’s great! Thanks for sharing, Ron!

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