2019 Toyota Tacoma vs Competitors
The truck-based sport utility vehicles (SUVs) of past years could be counted on to haul heavy or oversized cargo and capably leave the paved road. But as more and more utility vehicles have come to be built on car platforms instead of truck platforms, often swapping four-wheel drive for the less-hardy front-wheel drive, the term SUV has become fuzzier. After all, a vehicle built on a car platform is by definition a crossover and not a true SUV. But through all of these shifts in the automotive world, the pickup truck segment has stayed consistent. With their impressive hauling potential and rugged functionality, this class of vehicle hasn’t lost a step. In fact, while pickups have easily maintained their popularity as work vehicles, they’ve become more and more common as passenger vehicles, especially as manufacturers add luxury touches and comfort and convenience features to make them more carlike on the inside.
While there are many pickup truck retailers to choose from, one that remains a top pick is Toyota’s highly dependable and capable midsized Tacoma. With a solid suite of standard features that make driving all the more pleasant, Toyota continually keeps buyers coming back for more. The Tacoma is not alone, though, as there are other reputable midsized pickup trucks on the market, including the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, and Nissan Frontier.
When it comes to intentionally leaving the beaten path, the Tacoma shines brightly through the mud spatters. Its terrain-focused TRD Off-Road trim offers the most impressive off-road capabilities, with its upgraded V6 powertrain, Bilstein monotube shocks, extra skid plates, an optional hood-mounted snorkel intake, and advanced traction control systems with multiple terrain settings and crawl control. The Ford Ranger offers similar trail-ready equipment, but only as an optional package that pads the sticker price. The Chevy Colorado has a ZR2 off-road trim, but it lacks the skid plates and advanced traction control systems of the Tacoma TRD Off-Road. The Honda Ridgeline focuses more on passenger comfort and convenience than hauling and traversing rock, making it more of a commuter’s truck with a convenient bed for weekend home-improvement projects. The Frontier tries with its Pro-4X trim, which features basic equipment such as off-road tires, specially tuned shocks, a locking rear differential, and skid plates, but it falls well short of the Tacoma’s capabilities. And the GMC Canyon is, like its cousin the Colorado, less trail-oriented, although its SLE trim can be equipped with an All-Terrain Package.
Not only is the Tacoma an excellent off-road truck, but its maximum tow rating of 6,400 pounds is excellent for a light truck. The Frontier is just slightly higher with a 6,500-pound maximum towing capacity, while the Ridgeline is rated at 5,000 pounds tops. Certain configurations of the Canyon, Colorado, and Ranger can tow upwards of 7,000 pounds, but none of them is as effective off the pavement as a properly equipped Tacoma. Those looking for exceptional brawn in their Toyota can always upgrade to the full-sized Tundra.
Even at its most basic level, the Tacoma shines with what it offers right out of the gate. Its base-level L provides heated side mirrors, as well as the excellent Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assistance features, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Both the Ranger and the Colorado lack most of these features on their base trim levels, though the Ranger does include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The same follows with the Ridgeline and the Frontier models, as active safety features for the Honda product are only available with its high-end RTL-E trim level, while the Frontier’s safety features are few and far between.