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Tacoma vs. Tundra: Which Toyota Truck is Meant for You?

While owning the latest and greatest pickup truck can be great, there are those of us who are on a budget. I don’t know about you, but everything that I purchase is worked into a monthly budget. This includes the upcoming purchase of a pickup truck.

Midsize Toyota Trucks

While I might not be the one in the market for a midsize truck, my spouse certainly is. After we purchased my Toyota Camry we quickly became fans of Toyota.

toyota company logo on car

Do a little research, and you will discover that Toyota has what the automotive experts at Edmunds call “a well-deserved reputation for building small trucks with superior off-highway capability and rugged dependability”.

During our recent deliberation process, based on budget and need, we have narrowed our choices down to two models – 2016 Toyota Tacoma vs. Tundra.

Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma has been around a bit longer than my spouse’s current Nissan pickup that we are replacing. During its 20+ year evolution the Tacoma has gone from a minor truck, like our current ’97 Nissan pickup, to a larger, more premium truck with added space.

Along a more than average truck, with added space, what else are we looking for in a newish truck? Power and capability – of course. What would a truck be if it couldn’t haul whatever we need? With either a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V-6, the Tacoma offers plenty of authority.

Both engines are partnered with a six-speed automatic transmission, which could be an issue for my manual transmission loving husband. This issue could be resolved thanks to the choice of a 4×4 off-road model, which includes either a five or six-speed manual transmission.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road

Along with power, many men enjoy driving a truck that can handle any rugged terrain. This is why out of all five trim levels my husband is strongly considering the TRD Off-Road model.

My rugged husband is sure to enjoy this truck’s equally rugged body trim as well as the Bilstein shock absorbers, electronic locking rear differential and crawl system to make going off-road a breeze.

Elite Tacoma

While my husband may prefer a more rugged Toyota truck, you may be someone who enjoys a bit more luxury.

Along with power and capability, the luxurious 2016 Tacoma Limited model includes leather seating along with high tech features like a backup camera (I sure wish that I had this on my car), wireless phone charging as well as technology that allows for smart phone integration.

Toyota Tundra

2016 Toyota Tundra

One of America’s most popular full-sized pickup trucks during the 2016 model year, the Toyota Tundra has a leg up on the Tacoma when it comes to power. With two available V8 engines, this truck is capable of more horsepower and torque than the Tacoma.

Unlike the Tacoma, the Tundra also has a powerful tow package. Although my husband doesn’t have many heavy boy toys, the man who spends his days towing heavy equipment, a bass boat or even a set of four wheelers would appreciate this truck.

You got to admit, any truck that can tow a space shuttle has what it takes to tow anything that my man may think of. What more could you really ask for anyway?

While a tow package may not be high on our priority list, rest assured that both he and I would prefer a powerful truck that can handle the toughest terrains possible – including ice or snow, which my poor sedan struggles with.

Tundra TRD Pro

As I mentioned above, my husband enjoys driving a vehicle that can handle anything. Tie in a truck that can handle any off-road challenge that you have in mind and you have his attention.

After much research into its sturdy suspension, high ground clearance, tough suspension and enough power to get through some of the deepest snow drifts, it became obvious that we needed to consider his test driving a Tundra TRD Pro.

Missing That Luxury Feel

While the Toyota Tundra is powerful and capable, for those of you out there who are looking for a truck with a luxurious feel, I got to say that the Tacoma is the real winner. Despite this, the Tundra’s interior is much larger than the Tacoma, with seats that are spaced farther apart for lots of leg room.

Although its interior isn’t all that luxurious when compared to the 2016 Tacoma, the 2016 Toyota Tundra is much like its Tacoma brother in that it does include high tech features that may grab your attention.

tacoma vs tundra interior

Source: stpeterssav.org

Along with a large touch screen, the 2016 Tundra also has hands free smart phone capability, dual-zone climate control and built-in GPS. This truck can even be loaded with a backup camera loaded on the tailgate.

Back to the Budget

If you were reading closely you know that these two trucks can meet many of both our and your needs. Despite each truck’s endearing qualities, there is a looming factor that neither we nor you are soon to overlook – budget.

tacoma vs tundra price tag

Source: stpeterssav.org

Although the referenced trucks are not the latest models of either the Tacoma or Tundra, research shows that each 2016 model is averaging an above a 20K price tag, with the Tundra continuing to lead the pack in overall cost. Optional Toyota accessories will also add to the cost.

Which Will You Choose?

While there are obvious reasons to choose either the 2016 Toyota Tacoma or Tundra, our choice of Toyota truck models might vary from yours based on budget, commuting capability, towing power, luxury amenities and more.

Prior to making our making our choice, we are going to take advantage of the freedom that many dealerships offer – taking a test drive around our hometown. To find a Toyota dealer who will offer the ideal test drive for you check out Toyota.com today.

Ellen Richardson

Ellen Richardson, better known as The Automotive Maven, has had a passion for all things automotive since the first time that her father let her pretend that she was behind the wheel in his antique VW Van. Since then, the little girl who also loved to pretend that she was an award-winning writer/journalist has been using her passion to help others realize the important roles that vehicles play in each of our lives.