2021 Tacoma vs 2021 Tundra

January 8th, 2021 by

A silver 2021 Toyota Tacoma is parked in front of a log cabin with a green roof.

Trying to decide which truck to buy may seem daunting with all the options and features available today. So, the best place to start is choosing a brand that you know you can trust getting a vehicle from, like the reliable and innovative Toyota company. From the powerful midsize Tundra to the full-size fully-capable Tacoma, there are plenty of amazing options for a reliable Toyota truck. However, which of the 2021 models is the best one for you? Do you need a full-size workhorse or a midsize adventure vehicle? Before you run down to your Toyota truck dealer for a test drive, let’s narrow down your search and take a look at some of the features that make these great vehicles different and see which one will be better for you.

Toyota Truck Overview

Starting with the bigger of the two, the Tundra is a full-size truck that comes standard with a 5.7-liter V8 engine, can tow up to 10,200 pounds and has a payload capacity of up to 1,730 pounds. The starting price for the 2021 Tundra is $33,675, so it’s a pretty affordable truck option. It comes in six trim levels and seats either five or six, depending on the cab you choose. Three cab choices are available: double-cab, crew-cab, and CrewMax. There are also three bed sizes, some of which are limited by which cab you choose. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available for any trim.

The Tacoma is a midsize truck that comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine in the two entry-level trims, and in the remaining four trims, the standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6. With the V6 engine, the 2021 Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds and has a payload capacity of up to 1,685 pounds. The starting price for the Tacoma is $26,150. Three options for cab and bed size are available: the Access Cab with a six-foot bed, the Double Cab with a five-foot bed, or the Double Cab with a six-foot bed. Also, if you want the Toyota truck with the best fuel economy, you’ll want to opt for the Tacoma with the 2.7L engine and rear-wheel drive for up to 19 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway.

Both trucks come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes automatic high beams, lane departure alert, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and dynamic radar cruise control. Star Sense is also standard, which includes Smart Stop technology, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, an anti-lock brake system, traction control, and stability control. The best standard equipment for both trucks is for trailering if you plan to tow a trailer. The Tundra comes with the tow package, which includes the tow receiver, trailer brake controller, heavy-duty battery, trailer sway control, and a tow-haul mode. Similar to the Tundra, the Tacoma will have a class IV trailer hitch, specialized cooling systems, and a 130-amp alternator, as well as the trailer sway control and trailer brake controller.

Taking into account the towing capability and engine size, if you plan to do a lot of driving with your family for camping trips, need to tow a heavy camper or trailer, and you can handle the larger size of the Tundra for parking, this may be the better truck for you. On the other hand, if you need a truck for smaller jobs, you typically drive alone or with one other passenger, and you want better fuel efficiency, the Tacoma might be a better fit. However, if you want to use a truck for work, the Tundra has a work truck package with sturdy vinyl seats and flooring and an optional deck rail system for securing long items in the bed.

A 2021 blue Toyota Tundra is parked on a dirt path in front of a lake.

Dimensions and Capacities

Depending on what you plan to do with your truck, knowing each truck’s capacities and sizing may help define which truck is better for you. Starting with interior space, the 2021 Tacoma has generous legroom in the front with 42.9 inches and a back seat legroom of 32.6 inches that is more suitable for kids or small adults. The length of the exterior is 212.3 inches, which is about 17.5 feet, and the height is 70.6 inches, which is just under six feet tall. The bed sizes are five or six feet, depending on which cab you choose. Seating capacity is either four or five.

For a larger interior space, the 2021 Tundra has 42.5 inches in front and a nearly identical 42.3 inches in back. That’s plenty of room for even tall adults to sit comfortably. The exterior length of the 2021 Tundra is 228.9 inches, which is slightly over 19 feet. Height comes to 77.2 inches (just over 6.5 feet) for the TRD Pro or 75.8 inches (just over 6 feet) for the other trims. Bed sizes can be either 5.5 feet, 6.5 feet, or 8.1 feet, depending on how you configure your truck, and the seating capacity is for either five or six.

Off-Road Options

Both trucks have off-road variants, not to be confused with the sport-style trims. For the 2021 Tacoma, the off-road variant is called the TRD Off-Road, and it comes with off-road-ready equipment made for more heavy-duty trail riding. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road is a favorite of off-road enthusiasts. It comes with an electronically-controlled rear locking differential for handling steep inclines and has available CRAWL control for managing low-speed crawls over rough terrain, off-road tuned Bilstein shocks, and Fox shocks in the rear suspension. The approach angle is 32 degrees, the departure angle is 23.5 degrees, and the breakover angle is 21 degrees. Skid plates are standard equipment to keep the engine and front suspension protected, and a fiber-reinforced composite bed is extra sturdy for hauling.

Multi-mode shifting is available to allow for the difference in off-road terrains, such as mud, sand, snow, or rock, though this feature and the CRAWL control are only available with four-wheel drive. Other features are available to add to the TRD Off-Road, like a multi-terrain monitor system that shows camera angles underneath the truck. The monitor also shows surrounding views to give the driver vital camera footage of obstacles in the terrain to avoid unwelcome damage to the truck.

With the Tundra, the TRD Pro with four-wheel drive and the 5.5-foot bed is the off-road variant. The TRD Pro will come with front tow hooks, front skid plates, Fox shocks with a piggy-back reservoir, leather-trimmed front bucket seats with powered accessories, fog lights, a TRD shift knob, black chrome-tipped exhaust pipes, electronic locking rear differential, and a four-wheel drive electronic transfer case. It has an approach angle of 31 degrees and a departure of 17 degrees.

If you plan to do a lot of off-road trail riding, the better option of the two is the Tacoma. It has better approach and departure angles and more off-road tuned equipment than the Tundra. While the Tundra can be a great off-road truck for occasional trail riding, the Tacoma has CRAWL control and the option for the multi-terrain monitor, which are smart choices when it comes to being able to see potential hazards. Between the two, off-road enthusiasts prefer the Tacoma for its agility and options.

A silver 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD is shown from behind with bikes in the bed after leaving a Toyota truck dealer.

Tundra vs Tacoma: It’s a Tie

Whether you go with the 2021 Toyota Tacoma or the 2021 Toyota Tundra, you will have generous technology like standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, WiFi, Bluetooth, Alexa capability, satellite radio, and a seven-inch touchscreen for the entry-level trims. The tech gets better from there, and Toyota has inclusive options for great sound systems and other convenient features. All features aside, Toyota trucks are one of the highest-rated for dependability and last longer than most brands. So, choose your truck for the job you plan to do with it and know your Toyota truck will stand up to the test of time. If you are ready to get behind the wheel of a Toyota truck, then visit us and let our sales team help you find the perfect Tundra or Tacoma to meet all of your truck needs.