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Tacoma Vs. Tundra: Stacking Up Toyota’s Pickup Trucks

2021 Toyota Tundra and 2020 Toyota Tacoma side-by-side view 2020 Toyota Tacoma and Tundra | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

If you’re considering buying a pickup truck and you’re set on having it be a Toyota, there are two options: the mid-size Tacoma or the larger, full-size Tundra. Both have their pros and cons, and the ultimate decision for which one is right for you may depend on test-driving each one. For now, let’s look at some basics and see how the two Toyota trucks stack up for the 2020 model year.

Related: 2020 Toyota Tacoma: What’s Changed?

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Used
2020 Toyota Tacoma SR5
39,632 mi.
$29,999
Good Deal | $177 under
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Powertrain

With the Tundra, things are very straightforward. All trim levels, cab styles and bed lengths are powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 making 381 horsepower and 401 pounds-feet of torque, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Your only choice will be rear- or four-wheel drive, with the off-road-focused TRD Pro coming in 4WD only.

The Tacoma offers buyers a choice between two engines: a 2.7-liter four-cylinder (159 hp, 180 pounds-feet of torque) or a 3.5-liter V-6 (278 hp, 265 pounds-feet of torque). Four-cylinder models pair with a six-speed automatic, while V-6 models get a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Rear- or four-wheel drive is again a choice depending on trim level.

Fuel economy favors the smaller Tacoma, with EPA-rated mileage for the 2020 model ranging from 18 to 21 mpg combined depending on drivetrains and, in some cases, trim levels. The Tundra’s combined fuel economy rating, meanwhile, ranges from 14 to 15 mpg.

Shop the 2020 Toyota Tundra near you

Used
2020 Toyota Tundra Platinum
14,480 mi.
$58,948
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2020 Toyota Tundra SR5
13,980 mi.
$49,971
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Size

The Tundra is unsurprisingly longer, wider and taller than the Tacoma. The difference in length can vary from a few inches to more than 2 feet depending on cab and bed configurations, with the Tundra 4.7 to 5.5 inches wider and 4.2 to 6.6 inches taller. Both trucks are available with short or long bed lengths and extended or crew cabs, though the Tundra, like several other full-size pickups, has an “extended” cab with four forward-hinged doors — albeit truncated ones in back — to make it technically also a crew cab. This might be an issue if you have a garage, something our compatriots at PickupTrucks.com found out during a comparison test between the two.

In terms of interior space, the two trucks are more comparable, with similar front head- and legroom specs. The longer, wider Tundra offers more shoulder and hip room, as well as significantly more rear leg- and headroom.

Towing and Payload Capacity

These are both an advantage for the Tundra, which offers a maximum towing capacity of 10,200 pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 1,730 pounds. The Tacoma, on the other hand, maxes out at 6,800 pounds of towing capacity but very nearly equals the Tundra in payload, with a maximum capacity of 1,620 pounds.

Safety and Multimedia Technology

Both trucks now come standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of advanced safety features, which includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Also standard on both are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. Both use a 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreens, depending on trim level.

Price

The smaller Tacoma is consistently more affordable when compared to a similar trim of the Tundra, but some overlap exists between the two trucks. The cheapest 2020 Tacoma costs $27,170 with a $1,120 destination fee, while the lowest-priced 2020 Tundra starts at $35,170 with a pricier $1,595 destination fee.

At the top end of the price range, the Tacoma’s most expensive model is the off-road-focused TRD Pro, which starts at $47,785 when equipped with an automatic transmission. The Tundra’s TRD Pro trim level is also its most expensive, at $54,525.

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If you live where space is at a premium and don’t do a lot of regular towing, a Tacoma may make more sense. If you just want the biggest, most powerful truck from Toyota or regularly tow more than 6,800 pounds, consider the Tundra.

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