2023 Toyota Tacoma vs Tundra: Which One Is Best For Me?
Toyota makes two extremely capable trucks that are very popular with drivers of all kinds: the 2022 Toyota Tacoma and the 2022 Toyota Tundra. The Tacoma is a smaller, more maneuverable truck while the Tundra is a larger, more powerful machine. You might be set on buying a truck from Toyota but have yet to decide on which truck will be a better fit for you. The answer to that will likely come down to your budget and what exactly you need the truck for.
Both the Tacoma and the Tundra have a lot to love about them and they are both extremely durable trucks that are fun to drive. After going through this detailed breakdown, you should have all of the information you need to make a final decision about which truck is best for you and your lifestyle. Anyone who is ready to buy a new truck is already in an exciting position and narrowing down the choice between the Tacoma and the Tundra will be fun.
At a Glance
Overview of 2023 Toyota Tacoma:
The Toyota Tacoma is one of the best small trucks on the market. The Tacoma has garnered a massive following among small truck enthusiasts for its handling, style, and longevity. The Tacoma is a great little truck, especially the crew cab version. It has enough space to tote the family around and haul a good amount of stuff in the bed at the same time. The Tacoma handles like a sedan so no awkward angles while trying to turn into a parking spot like you get with bigger trucks.
The downsides here are the fact that the Tacoma is small. If you are not a fan of small trucks the Tacoma does little to change that sentiment. The engine is small with just 159 horsepower to start with and it only tows 6,000 pounds comfortably. If you need a truck to do some serious work the Tacoma is not going to cut it. The Tacoma does come with a diesel option which is a big deal (we’ll get to why that is in a minute).
However, the Tacoma is a great-looking truck with a unique exterior body design that is instantly recognizable. The 2022 model doesn’t change much but it still looks great. The newest model doesn’t change much on the inside either which is a bit of a bummer for those looking for modern upgrades to the Spartan interior.
Overview of 2023 Toyota Tundra:
The Tundra is a great full-size truck with a solid pedigree. The truck looks good, it runs well, and it has a lot of power to get whatever job you need to get done. It comes with 348 horsepower right out of the gate and maxes out at over 11,000 pounds of towing capacity. That all adds up to a truck that can haul and carry all sorts of goodies. The crew cab is spacious and the ability to have a longer bed and crew cab means that this truck will be a versatile ride for workers, project managers, or dads everywhere.
One thing that is sure to disappoint a section of long-time Tundra fans is the fact that this year’s model does not include a diesel option. That’s right, the 2022 Tundra does not have the option to upgrade to diesel. Toyota also removed the V8 option as well. Right now, the 2022 Tundra’s only ship with a V6 engine configuration. That is going to rub some old and new Tundra fans the wrong way but that is just the way it is this year.
If the shortage of engine options doesn’t deter you there is a lot to like with this year’s Tundra. Toyota is making more safety features standard, making these large trucks easier to manage on the road and safer than ever before. The Tundra is a great option for anyone looking for a truck that looks the part and can walk the walk. But it is going to cost you. The Tundra is not cheap and many models quickly approach the $40,000 mark which is a decent chunk of change more than the smaller Tacoma.
How Do These Trucks Compare?
The Toyota Tundra blows the Tacoma out of the water in terms of performance. If you are looking for a truck with a lot of horsepower under the hood and a large amount of towing capacity you are going to want to go with the Tundra. The Tundra will make a better work truck and a better towing vehicle than the Tacoma in almost every situation. The Tundra comes with over 200 more horsepower than the Tacoma out of the gate and that translates to double the towing capacity as well. In terms of maximum load, the Tacoma actually has a similar capacity for the bed. The Tundra really shines in torque and towing power. If you’ve got something to haul, the Tundra is the way to go.
The Tacoma can be had for a lot less money than the Tundra. The base model Tacoma is roughly $10,000 cheaper than the base model Tundra. The Tundra is a much larger truck with a lot more performance options but if the price is a large factor in your decision the Tacoma is a lot cheaper. Even if you do not want a base model truck you can get a decent Tacoma for $36,000 while a mid-level Tundra is going to easily crack $40,000 in price. Again, that is because the Tundra is a larger truck with more options but if you’re looking for value then Tacoma takes the cake.
Surprisingly, both the Tacoma and the Tundra have almost identical fuel ratings. The Tundra’s fuel rating will decline if it is pulling a heavy load or is loaded down compared to the Tacoma. The Tundra can carry more and more weight means less fuel economy. However, at face value, both the Tacoma and the Tundra ring in the same fuel mileage. That similarity holds across almost every model as well, so the fuel economy does not just sync up at the base model level. Perhaps it is not so surprising considering both trucks have Toyota’s TRD-inspired engines in them. But one would think the bigger truck would have worse fuel mileage but, in this case, that is not true.
If you are looking at fuel mileage as a way to determine between the two you will be disappointed. Both these trucks have the same fuel mileage.
The Toyota Tacoma is one of the most durable trucks on the market. The recent market analysis says that an above-average number of Tacomas will make it to the vaunted 300,000-mile mark. But Tundra is no slouch either. The 2022 Toyota Tundra has above-average longevity numbers compared to similar trucks of its size. Well-cared-for Tundras should have no issues reaching 200,000 miles. Since Toyota makes and warranties both of these trucks, they should have similar lifespans. But small trucks usually manage to last a little longer than bigger trucks. If you want a truck that you can drive for years and years to come the Tacoma has slightly better durability ratings than the Tundra. But the difference between the two is relatively small.
What Drivers Say
We did our own research, but for objectivity’s sake, we also looked at what other drivers had to say. Here’s a summary:
Many of the drivers of the 2022 Tacoma are previous Tacoma owners. They like the fidelity that Toyota has paid to their past models. They haven’t changed too much and rocked the boat. The newest Tacoma feels very familiar to past Tacoma owners. That is usually a good thing. If you did not like past Tacomas, the newest model is not going to change your mind in that regard.
The Tacoma still drives very well. It has tight responsive handling for a truck. Some people really enjoy the Tacoma’s above-average clearance height while other people complained that it is a little too high for their tastes. The Tacoma does sit pretty high off the ground, even for a truck.
People complained about the Tacoma’s gas mileage. As other brands, like Ford, continue to roll out more fuel-efficient engines for their trucks Toyota seems to be lagging behind. The Tacoma’s gas mileage isn’t great and that is made worse by the relatively small engine. The fact that it gets the same gas mileage as the much heavier V6-laden Tundra is another disappointing metric in that category.
The interior of the Tundra got a big upgrade and people are taking notice. Many drivers are lauding the look and feel of the interior which is now more like an SUV and less like a work truck. People are also raving about the extended bed, which is 6.5 feet long, that can be had in addition to the crew cab. Before the crew cab option restricted bed size to 5 feet or 6 feet in length which was a little short by some people’s standards.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest complaint about this year’s Tundra is the lack of engine options. It is impossible to say what Toyota’s long-term plans are in terms of their diesel and V8 engines but right now they are noticeably absent from the Tundras. Going along the same theme, Toyota’s flagship truck is also starting to feel a little dated compared to how many innovations other competing trucks are receiving. Toyota Safety Sense is a nice inclusion that makes driving safer but drivers would also like to see more unique innovations in the Tundra as well.
Overall, the Tundra seems to be playing well with truck owners so far. People who have owned Tundras or Toyotas in the past will be especially happy with this year’s model barring the lack of diesel. Sorry, diesel heads.
Related Read: Toyota C-HR vs. Honda HR-V: Which One’s Best for Me?
Choosing between a Tacoma and a Tundra is still largely going to boil down to price and usage. The Tundra is markedly more expensive than the Tacoma but it also produces a lot more versatility and power. The Tacoma is a great little family truck perfect for running errands or going off-roading but it will not fool anyone as a powerful trailering truck. If you need a truck to be a truck, Tundra is probably the best bet. If you want your truck to be a truck but also a sedan and maybe a camping vehicle go with the Tacoma. Honestly, you probably won’t do too bad with either option.
Featured Image Credit: (Left) magwood_photography, Pixabay, (Right) 2022 Toyota Tundra Limited (United States) front view, (Oxmoor Toyota, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)