You don’t get to be one of the best selling mid sized trucks on the market by offering a one size fits all approach. The Toyota Tacoma has always been about options, trim levels, and more to make sure truck shoppers get exactly what they want. Tacoma takes this almost beyond what any other manufacturer does. From a simple work truck, to ultimate luxury, to an off-road beast, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma has you covered. Let’s dive into the different trim levels you can get.
Please keep in mind that all prices, specs, and options reflect the current time this article is written, which will cover the 2021 models. All information comes directly from Toyota’s website and other industry leading websites.
Starting at just $26,250, this is your least expensive option for getting into the Tacoma market. For that price, you are going to get one heck of a dependable and capable truck. After all, that is what the Tacoma is known for! However, this is the “no frills” model. Keep in mind that prices will change with options!
Options are more on the limited side, but Toyota built this truck in mind for two things: to give people an inexpensive and dependable truck, and for work. This is the truck you can beat up and not feel too bad about.
For the SR, the 3.5L V6 that makes 278 horsepower and 265 foot pounds of torque is standard, and you don’t have the option of the 2.7L four cylinder. That engine comes paired with a six speed automatic transmission which can give up to 19 MPG city and 24 MPG highway (depending on options). You do have the option to select either a double cab or access cab, which will also give you a five foot short bed or six foot standard bed respectively. Four-wheel drive is standard for the double cab, but you can select two-wheel or four-wheel drive on the access cab, in a sub trim category.
Depending on which size SR you choose (access cab, bed length, etc), the 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR can have a payload capacity up to 1,525 pounds, a tongue load up to 680 pounds, and can tow up 6,400 pounds.
The only major optional packages for the SR would be the ability to select a tonneau cover and the SX Package. The SX Package give you black 16 inch alloy wheels, overfenders, mirror caps, door handles, and headlight bezels. It’s the best way to dress up you SR from the factory without having to go the aftermarket route. All come standard with a seven inch touch screen, three USB ports, and fabric seats.
For just a bit more starting at $28,040, this is where you can really start building the Tacoma that you want. I like to think of the SR5 Tacoma and Tundra trims to be a bit of a blank canvas when it comes to Toyota trucks. Out of the box, you get a nicer version of the SR, but this is where the options and packages can be selected to build the Tacoma just for you.
The first major difference would be the option of the 2.7L four cylinder which makes 159 horsepower and 180 foot pounds of torque. While only available with the 2WD access cab with a six foot bed, if your goal is the best MPG rating, this engine will give you up to 20 MPG city and 23 MPG highway. The 2WD double cab with five foot bed and 4WD double cab with six foot bed only come with 3.5L V6 I covered before.
Depending on the cab size and bed length, payload capacity is up to 1,685 pounds, tongue load is down from the SR slightly to 670 pounds, and towing capacity is up to 6,700 pounds.
Unlike the SR, the SR5 starts allowing more creature comforts. An 8 inch touchscreen is standard, and you have the option to upgrade to the Premium Audio and Dynamic Navigation system. This gives you more speakers, supports wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alex, and so much more. For some combinations, you can upgrade to black 16 inch wheels as well. You can also load up with more technology packages that include a host of sensors for parking and blind spots.
The SR5 Appearance Package gives you 16 inch dark gray alloy wheels, and color-keyed overfenders. The most unique option though would be the Trail Special Edition Package. This gives you TRD off-road wheels and tires, lockable bed storage, unique badging, grille, and seats, a 120v bed outlet, and all-weather floor liners.
Keep in mind that options can turn this affordable Tacoma into a truck that’s close to $40,000! If you find yourself loading up with luxury or off-roading features, you may want to look into the next trim levels.
Tacoma TRD Sport
Some Tacomas will never see dirt. Let’s face it: yes, these are durable and capable trucks, but they also look good. Some people buy them just because they want to. If you’re looking for a little extra bling for your highway commutes, the TRD Sport is probably your best option.
Ironically, there is not much “sport” to the TRD Sport. It is mostly cosmetic: an appearance package over the base (SR/SR5) models. Starting at $33,160, the TRD Sport offers body-colored bumpers and fender flares, a non-functional hood scoop, 17-inch wheels with street tires, a "sport-tuned" suspension, and a front air dam attached at the base of the front bumper.
Of course the premium audio system optional in the SR5 is standard here, but you have even higher level audio systems that you can choose from as well. 10-way fabric power adjustable seats are standard, but now leather is on option too. Of course your steering wheel and shifter are dressed in leather as well.
You can get the TRD Sport with a 2WD access cab with a six foot bed, 2WD double cab with a five foot bed, or a 4WD double cab with a five foot bed. The 3.5L V6 is the only engine available, but if you’re focusing on some sporty driving, you’ll want the power and performance from the V6, which comes with the six speed automatic. Payload capacity is up to 1,525 pounds depending on options, tongue load is up to 680 pounds, and the maximum towing capacity is up to 6,800 pounds.
The most unique feature would be the addition of the the sport-tuned suspension. That means that it is stiffer. There is less body-roll and less flex, which makes it ideal for driving on pavement. You want your truck’s suspension to flex when you’re driving over rocks, but you don’t want that if you have to quickly change lanes on a highway.
Since this is a TRD, you get access to more packages as well such as the TRD Premium Sport Package which adds heated seats and a better audio package.
In the event you were wondering: TRD stands for “Toyota Racing Development.” This is Toyota’s in-house tuning shop for all Toyota, Lexus, and formerly Scion cars. TRD is responsible both for improving street cars for more performance and supporting Toyota's racing interests around the world.
Tacoma TRD Off-Road
With a base price of $34,414, the Off-Road trim for the Toyota Tacoma is a great starting place for those weekend warriors who like to do some off-roading, hill climbing, and tackle other similar terrain. Some of the goodies you get include Bilstein shock absorbers, locking rear differential, Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select, and 16-in wheels.
These are some pricey modifications that many would do to their truck for off-roading, and you can get them from the factory here. The shocks help absorb the bumps and rattles of the rough terrain while the locking differential keeps power going through both wheels for extra traction. Speaking of extra traction, the Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select are great features to help get the most help from your truck while off-roading, and they are not really something you can get aftermarket. The tires and fenders are more durable over the stock equivalents, and the smaller wheels assist in off-road capabilities compared to the larger 17 inch ones on the Pro.
With like the Sport, the 3.5L V6 is the only engine you can get at this trim. However, there are some other combinations! You can get a 2WD double cab with a five foot bed, but things get different with the optional 4WD access cab with six foot bed, and 4WD double cab with five foot bed.
Being built for off-road, payload is down to a max of 1,395 pounds, but of TRD Off-Road keeps a high tongue load of a max 670 pounds and a max towing capacity of 6,700 pounds. The technology packages available with the Sport are also available here, as well as the TRD Premium Off-Road Package, which offers the same heated seats and upgraded audio system.
Of course inside are all the goodies available with the Sport both optional and standard.
While a lot of people get trucks for utilitarian and off-road purposes, some people like trucks because they just want truck! They want something bigger. These people also tend to like a bit more luxury. Enter the 2021 Toyota Tacoma Limited: the luxury Tacoma. Starting at $39,005, this truck makes you feel like a million bucks! The amount of options on this trim actually goes down quite a bit. One, it already has most of the best features standard, and two, the off-road options are just not available.
Let’s get this out of the way... This is still a very capable vehicle off-road and for utilitarian work because it is still a Tacoma, but let’s face it: most people getting this will see a gravel or grass parking lot at the most.
Outside are all the fancy options Toyota has, and most is standard. You get a silver grille, moonroof, 18 inch polished wheels, and more. Inside is also the best of the best standard: wireless phone charging, 10-way power leather seat, leather steering wheel and shift knob, and the best sound and entertainment system available.
Unique to the Limited is the Nightshade Special Edition Package. If you like to black out your truck, you can do it from the factory! This comes with 18 inch dark smoke wheels, black wheel locks and lug nuts, exhaust tip, mirror caps, fog light bezels, badging and door handles, and carbon-style black grille.
You don’t get to choose many combinations with this trim. The 3.5L V6 is the only engine choice, and you can only select a double cab with a five foot bed. You do get the choice of two or four-wheel drive. Payload capacity is down to a low (compared to the other trims) 1,345 pounds max. Tongue load is at 660 pounds max, with a maximum towing capacity of 6,600 pounds.
Tacoma TRD Pro
Now for the moment many of you have been waiting for: the top of the line 2021 Tacoma TRD Pro! While this is the most expensive model starting at $44,175, this what you get if you want a serious off-road machine from the factory. And yes, that means you also get a factory warranty on the beast! If you’re beyond the weekend warrior status when it comes to off-roading, or perhaps you just want the best money can buy for a factory Tacoma, the Pro comes with everything the Off Road does plus tons of extras.
There are not many options at all for this trim. It has most of the best packages, and the rest is just what you get.
Fox off-road suspension with front coilovers and remote reservoir rear shock absorbers, TRD front skid plate, 16 inch Black TRD wheels, and a larger anti-sway bar are all some of the extra performance goodies you get. Let’s not forget about the TRD cat-back exhaust as well. The exterior is also decked out in exclusive TRD trim.
The interior not only comes with the top of the line options, but it’s call clad in unique TRD styling you can’t get elsewhere: seats, mats, shifter, and more.
You can only get a four-wheel drive double cab with the 3.5L V6, but you do have the option between a six speed automatic or manual! Payload capacity is the lowest at 1,135 pounds, and so is the tongue load and towing capacity at 640 and 6,400 pounds respectively.
When you think of Toyota, you think of more inexpensive, yet reliable vehicles. This does stray from the “inexpensive” side, and seems to be priced closer to some well specced out full sized trucks. You do get a lot of truck for the money, so there is a reason. Just remember that when it comes to options, you can get mud-flaps.
So, what have we learned? Hopefully all you need to know about the 2021 Tacoma line up! If you need a truck strictly for work, the SR is the trim for you. If you want a truck that you can build to be whatever you want, then look at the SR5. If you want to tackle the highways in style and performance, the TRD Sport is for you. If you want luxury from the factory, I would suggest the Limited. If you want some great off-road performance, it’s hard to beat the TRD Off-Road. Well, maybe you can if you want a Tacoma that says, “I’m here, and I can do anything.” In that case, look no further than the TRD Pro.
Whichever you decide, there is a Tacoma for you!
Limited and TRD Pro - Toyota
All Others - AutoBlog