It’s a sibling battle in this 2023 Toyota Tacoma vs. Tundra comparison where we evaluate which pickup truck offers the best value.
While this is technically a comparison of the latest 2023 Toyota Tacoma vs Tundra, it is also a battle of new and old. Toyota rolled out a completely overhauled full-size Tundra in 2022 after the prior generation’s production stretched to 14 years.
The new model is altogether better with modern tech, a hybridized powertrain, and an independent rear suspension. Whereas the Tacoma is now in its eighth year of production with an all-new fourth generation due in 2024. With that in mind, let’s dive into this Toyota full-size vs midsized truck matchup.
The 2023 Toyota Tundra sports a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 making 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. Need more juice? A hybridized variant is goosed up to 437 horses and 583 torques.
It is included on the TRD Pro and Capstone models or can be added to the Limited, Platinum, and 1794 Edition Tundra for about $3,800. A 10-speed automatic is lineup standard as is rear-wheel drive with the option for dual-range 4WD.
A new base model Tacoma makes do with a 2.7L inline-4 rated for 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The naturally aspirated 3.5L V6, which makes 278 hp and 265 torques, is standard on the TRD Sport model and above. A 6-speed automatic is the most common transmission though a 6-speed stick can be fitted to certain V6-powered trim lines.
The base Tundra earns only 18 mpg around town and 24 on the highway. Contrary to what it sounds like, the hybrid variant doesn’t help much here, earning just two additional miles per gallon on the city rating. The Tacoma is right in that ballpark with ratings of 20/23 mpg for the four-pot in city/highway driving and 19/24 mpg, respectively, with the V6.
Adding 4WD running gear reduces those figures by 1-2 mpg across the board. Looking over these paltry efficiency figures, it’s no surprise that there isn’t a single Toyota on this list of most fuel-efficient pickup trucks.
The hybrid 2023 Tundra is a rocket, it needs just 5.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, and the non-hybrid model is only a few ticks slower. It also delivers relatively smooth on-road manners thanks to the elimination of a live rear axle in favor of an independent setup.
Over on the Tacoma side of the house, a V6-powered model can get to 60 mph in about eight seconds, while the four-cylinder is…slower. And you’ll find a solid rear axle underneath sure to deliver plenty of spine-tingling bounce on potholed roads.
If off-roading is more your speed, both the Tundra and Tacoma offer varying levels of capability that are capped by a TRD Pro model. In both cases, these variants bring increased ground clearance, fancy Fox Racing dampers, knobby tires, and a host of skid plates. Unsurprisingly, the Tundra dusts the Tacoma when it comes to towing as it can handle 8,300 pounds in base form or up to 12,000 pounds for a properly equipped hybrid model. The Tacoma tops out at 6,800 pounds or 3,500 pounds for base models.
The interior space comparison is somewhat unfair as a CrewMax Tundra is 27 inches longer, seven inches taller, and five inches wider than the biggest Tacoma. That translates to 41 inches of rear legroom on the crew cab Tundra vs. 33 for the comparable Tacoma.
A big part of that length differential comes from the bed sizes. A new Tundra can be fitted with a 5.5-, 6.5- or 8-foot-long cargo bed. The Tacoma offers either a 5- or 6-footer.
Inside, owners can enjoy cloth, leatherette, or genuine leather on either Toyota pickup, but only the Tundra offers such niceties as a panoramic moonroof and climatized rear seats. As for infotainment, the Tacoma comes with a 7-inch touchscreen on base SR models and an 8-inch screen on everything else.
The Tundra continues the theme of “bigger and more everything” by fitting a standard 8-inch infotainment interface along with a 14-inch setup on Limited trim and above. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard across the board but only the Tundra offers a fully digital gauge cluster and digital rearview mirror.
The 2023 Tundra lineup ranges from a base SR for about $41,000 to $46,000 for an SR5, $52,000 for a midpack Limited, $62,000 for the Platinum, and a $79,000 Capstone sitting up top. Standard features include exterior LED lighting, automatic climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. And all new Tundras come with forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and a lane-keeping system.
SR5 models gain alloy wheels and power-sliding rear glass, while the Limited adds five USB ports, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Platinum trim brings a 12-speaker JBL stereo, wireless charging is included on the 1794 Edition, and the Capstone boasts power running boards. Check out our in-depth review of the 2023 Tundra for more details.
A new 2023 Tacoma starts far lower at about $30,000 for an SR with the SR5 only another thousand dollars. TRD Sport trims run about $36,000, the Limited starts at $42,000, there is a Trail Special Edition for about $43,000, and the top spec TRD Pro for $49,000. LED headlights are reserved for the TRD Pro, but forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control are lineup standard. Our 2023 Tacoma review goes into more detail on the trim-level breakdown.
Like its big brother, the Tacoma SR rides on steel wheels. Moving up to an SR5 nets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and power rear glass on V6 models. The TRD Sport has alloy rims and wireless charging, while the roughly $38,000 TRD Off-Road Tacoma sports an inclinometer with roll and pitch metrics displayed in the gauge cluster.
The 2023 Toyota Tacoma Limited trim is dressed up with leather upholstery, the Trail Special Edition has cool heritage-inspired bronze-colored bits, and the TRD Pro is the hard-core off-roader of the bunch that comes with BSM and RCTA.
Picking a winner of this 2023 Toyota Tacoma vs. Tundra is a no-brainer. It’s Tundra all the way with #MoreMoreMore as the tagline. More power, more payload & towing capacity, more cabin space, larger cargo beds, better technology, more amenities, and improved advanced safety nets.
The Tundra also costs more than the Tacoma, but a $46,000 Tundra SR5, which overlaps with Tacoma pricing, is a very well-equipped truck with so much, well, MORE to offer than most any Tacoma. However, the Tundra is just too big for your needs, at least wait until the 2024 Tacoma arrives as it is sure to be a far better option than the current model.