The Toyota Tacoma is one of the best mid-sized trucks in America. Ford rereleased the Ranger, and it is a very good side by side competitor to the Tacoma. However, the Tacoma has the ability to run with the big dogs, and the F-150 is one of them.
How does Toyota’s best selling mid-sized truck stack up against Ford's flagship of the highest selling truck line for 40 years? Let’s find out.
The Tacoma first came into the market in 1995. The F series trucks have been around since 1948, but the F-150 came about in 1976. Many things have changed for brands over the years so this focus will be on the newest 2020 models.
* Options not available on all models
** Up to, with applicable packages/options
Trims, Sizes, and Prices
The Tacoma offers six trim levels (SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro) and the F150 offers seven (XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, Limited, and Raptor). The Ford’s F150 trims are all much higher priced than the Tacoma, but there is a size difference between the two models that are notable.
Both trucks offer two rows of seating. Depending on the trim, each truck offers three different bed lengths. The F150 offers a much longer bed, coming in at two feet longer over the longest Tacoma offering. However, that does give the F150 a much bigger footprint. If you want a smaller overall truck, the Tacoma would be a better option.
Toyota offers two well-proven engines that make respectable power and are known to be quite reliable. While the Ranger gives you an option of just one engine, the F150 offers six. That seems like a bit of an overkill, but I guess you get plenty of options, including a V8, turbo diesel, and two well-proven and versatile versions of the V6 Ecoboost.
The F150 offers substantially more horsepower, even with its smallest engine. The biggest power plant of the Tacoma (a 3.5L V6) makes 278 horsepower, while the 2.7L in the Ford makes 375. Granted, that is a turbo. The 3.0L turbo-diesel does only make 250 horsepower, but it’s in a different category than the Tacoma doesn’t have a direct competitor for. Torque is also a big difference all around with the Ford making more, aside from the 3.3L V6 making the same 265 as the 3.5L V6 in the Tacoma.
Tacoma offers a six-speed manual and automatic. The F150 also offers a six-speed manual, but only in very few configurations. Most of the time you’ll find it with its ten-speed automatic. That allows the Ford to crank out a couple more miles per gallon in its best configuration over the Toyota’s best configuration regardless of its size and weight.
Towing and Off-Road
The F150 offers a much greater towing and payload capacity. Again, the engine options for the Ford offer more power, and the truck is physically bigger, so that’s no surprise. What the Tacoma can offer is an industry-standard for its size.
Tacoma and off-road go hand in hand. The TRD Pro is built for it, and there are package options for the other trims. Not enough from the factory? The aftermarket for the Tacoma is extremely vast. Ford is no slouch with its Raptor. Built from the ground up to tackle the rugged terrain, and to do it at speed, the Raptor has been known for years as Ford’s off-road machine. That all comes with a price though: $10,000 over the cost of a TRD Pro. Both trucks handle off-roading well when properly equipped.
Colors and Interior
Colors and interior options are pretty equal. Both can offer a very luxurious feel, or a rugged and basic work appearance. Ford has been doing very well with its Sync system, but Toyota is rolling out plenty of electronic features for the 2020 year.
The Tacoma can hold its own very well against the full-sized F150. However, it is important to keep in mind that not everything can be directly comparable. Sizes and power options make both trucks handle and option out differently. Both are good trucks, but personal needs and brand loyalty will help you find the best truck for you.
2020 F-150 - Courtesy of Ford
2020 F-150 - Courtesy of Phil Long Ford