Difference Between Tundra and Tacoma? (Explained!)

Toyota used to sell one truck, the Toyota Pickup truck, but in 1999, Toyota introduced a second option. Now Toyota offers a mid-size and a full-size truck to suit needs across the board: the Tundra and the Tacoma.

The Tundra is larger and more expensive than the Tacoma. The Tacoma is the mid-size version of the Tundra. The Tundra is a powerful vehicle capable of towing and hauling big loads and handling more rugged roads; meanwhile, the Tacoma is an everyday vehicle with extra capabilities.

What makes the Tundra so much more powerful and capable? What perks does the Toyota Tacoma have in comparison to the Tundra? Read on to learn more about both of these vehicles.

Toyota Tundra

The Tundra offers a bold truck option. The horsepower and towing capacity make it an ideal option for those seeking to haul campers and heavy trailers. That much capability comes at a price though. The 2021 Toyota Tundra prices start at $38,320, whereas the 2021 Tacoma prices start at $32,665. In addition to the upfront cost for the vehicle itself, the Tundra gets poor gas mileage. The Tundra gets 13 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on highways. 

The Tundra offers five trim levels, so you can upgrade and personalize from the base model. The trims offered are:

SR

The Sport Rally offers 6 passenger seating and an integrated backup camera. The SR package starts at $34,125.

SR5

The Sport Rally 5 offers the ability to upgrade to TRD Off-Road and TRD Sport packages as well as providing you with 18-inch styled wheels. Pricing starts at $35,815 for the SR5.

Limited

If you purchase the Limited Edition, you will be provided with a smart key system, heated leather-trimmed seats, and 20-inch alloy wheels. The Limited package starts at $42,840.

Difference Between Tundra and Tacoma
Difference Between Tundra and Tacoma? (Explained!) 3

Platinum

The Platinum comes with JLB speakers, offering great sound throughout the whole vehicle. For comfort, the Platinum trim package offers dual climate control. The Platinum offers an 8,800-9,400 lbs towing capacity and 381 horsepower. The Platinum starts at $49,345.

1794 Edition

The 1794 edition comes in style with wood grain style accents and 1794 badging. It also comes with Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. It comes with trailer sway control for better hauling. You also have the option to upgrade to the Tow Package, which includes an integrated trailer brake controller. You can get these additions for $49,345.

While these packages are currently offered with the 2021 Toyota Tundra, expect big changes for the 2022 model. The 2022 Tundra will come with more upgrades that will change the comparison to the Toyota Tacoma. The new Tundra will be a hybrid, thus improving the gas mileage issue.

While this upgrade will reduce the amount of money you spend on gas, it will increase the initial purchase price. The MSRP for the 2022 Tundra starts at $37,645, substantially more than the 2021 Tundra. 

Toyota Tacoma

The Tacoma offers a great everyday truck with some extra capabilities. It is smaller and more convenient than the Tundra. Unfortunately, this smaller truck does not get as much power as the Tundra. The Tacoma is much less capable than the Tundra, especially when it comes to the higher trim packages.

However, the Tacoma costs much less than the Tundra and gets better gas mileage. Because the Tacoma is lighter, it gets 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on highways. For a mid-size truck, the Tacoma will give you what you need. 

Difference Between Tundra and Tacoma
Difference Between Tundra and Tacoma? (Explained!) 4

The Tacoma offers six trim levels, including:

SR

The Sport Rally offers fabric-covered seats and an integrated backup camera and starts at $26,050.

SR5

The Sport Rally 5 comes with a keyless entry system with an engine immobilizer, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and Compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. Expect to pay at least $27,825 for the SR5.

TRD Sport

The Toyota Racing Development Sport is designed for everyday commute with LED daytime running lights, a smart key system with a push start button, and a panoramic view monitor and camera. The starting price for the TRD Sport trim package is $32,745.

TRD Off-road

The Toyota Racing Development Off-road package gives you exactly what you need for off-roading. It offers a Multi-terrain select, crawl control system, and electronically locking rear differential. You can get your rugged TRD Off-road trim package for $34,000.

Limited

If you purchase the Limited package, you will get a power tilt/slide moonroof, dual-zone climate control, and durable leather-trimmed seats. This all comes at the starting price, $38,790.

TRD Pro

The Toyota Racing Development Pro gives you a TRD Pro skid plate, Toyota safety sense, and a multi-terrain monitor and camera. You can get this upgraded package for $43,960.

The 2022 Tacoma is similar to the 2021 model, but it offers additions alongside the trim packages. The new Tacoma is priced starting at $26,500.

Another key difference between the Tacoma and the Tundra is the transmission options. The Tacoma offers a manual transmission option that the Tundra doesn’t. This option for a manual transmission provides greater choice over your vehicle’s performance and ability. Having a manual transmission will especially appeal to those who want increased handling while off-roading.

2021 Tundra vs. 2021 Tacoma Specs

The Tundra and the Tacoma are relatively similar, but they differ in performance and ability. The Tundra is larger and has a larger engine than the Tacoma. The Tacoma is a smaller version of the Tundra and has less power.

Take a look at the difference between the two vehicles in the table below!

2021 Toyota Tundra2021 Toyota Tacoma
PriceStarting at $34,125Starting at $26,400
Engine5.7 L V8 3.5 L V6
Transmission6 speed automatic6 speed automatic
Horsepower381 159-278
Towing Capacity8,800-10,200 lbs3,500-6,800 lbs
JD Power Rating86/10081/100
Height75.870.6
Width 79.974.4
Length228.9212.3
Bed Length66.760.5
Bed Height22.219.1
Gas Mileage13/17 mpg20/23 mpg
Source: Toyota

As you can see, the Tundra is bigger than the Tacoma. While this leads to significantly higher power, it suffers in terms of gas mileage and purchase price.

Which One Should You Buy?

The Toyota Tundra and the Tacoma both boast high reliability scores and have similar features. When it comes down to one or the other, you have to think about your budget and vehicle needs.

If you need a powerful off-roading vehicle with a high towing capacity, the Tundra is better. However, if you need a small truck with decent gas mileage, then the Tacoma is the correct choice.

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