Toyota Tacoma vs. Ford Ranger: Which Truck is the Right Choice?

Toyota Tacoma vs. Ford Ranger: Which Truck is the Right Choice?

Sometimes it's hard making decisions between two legendary rivals, and trucks are no different. An array of choices are out there, just waiting to reel you in and fully fulfill your driving dreams. With that said, allow us to help narrow down the pool, so making your decision is all the easier.

Introducing: the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford Ranger

Over the last few years, competition regarding trucks, whether full or midsize, has steadily grown. Currently, the Tacoma is one of the most popular models available, with a significant following of loyal drivers, thanks to its dependable reputation. In contrast, despite being a newer model in terms of years on the market, the Ford Ranger is still an exciting contender among the midsize truck scene. 

Utilitarian and no doubt built for physical use, the Tacoma's streamlined design is clean and classic. As for the Ranger, think of it as the new restaurant on the block: fresh, inviting, and fun. 

In terms of looks and upgrade options, each model is highly customizable, with several different colors available, such as black, gray, and white for the Tacoma and, very fittingly, red, white, and blue for its American counterpart. 

If either of these two trucks sounds right up your alley, or if you're interested but still unsure, read on as we further examine the similarities and differences of each.

Tacoma vs. Ranger: Specs

Each model classifies as a midsize truck, given their modest external dimensions, and so both are better suited for maneuvering cramped spaces. The Tacoma and the Ranger offer suitable cargo space as well.

Looking closer at the Tacoma, the Japanese model comfortably seats five passengers. Two cab styles are available for the truck's bed: the 74-inch Access cab and the Double cab, which measures either 60 or 74 inches. The Access bed is the best choice for hauling loads, while the Double cab is better for passenger transport.

Regarding interior dimensions, the Access cab offers 40 inches of headroom and 43 inches of legroom in the vehicle's front half. In comparison, the rear of the cabin allows for 35 inches and 25 inches in head and legroom, respectively The Double cab's head and legroom are virtually the same.

As for the Ranger, Ford also offers two cab styles: the extended cab – or the standard Supercab in Ford lingo – of which is 73 inches, and the crew cab – or the Supercrew – which measures 61 inches. Seating is dependent on cab selection: the Supercab seats four, and the Supercrew seats five.

The inner dimensions of the Ranger are similar to those of the Tacoma. The truck's front offers 40 inches in headroom and 43 inches in legroom; the rear offers 36 inches in headroom and 30 inches in legroom.

Both the Tacoma and the Ranger have built-in touchscreen infotainment centers that come equipped with Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and Wifi, as is climate control and A/C regulation. Music-wise, the Tacoma has six speakers, and the Ranger has four. You'll be able to sing your heart out regardless.

How fuel efficient are the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford Ranger?

As is the case with any pickup, fuel economy and power are two prominent factors. The Tacoma comes with one of two engines: a 2.7-liter, 159-horsepower four-cylinder with a 265-horsepower V6. Each engine has a range of 20 mpg for city driving and 23 mpg for the highway, while the fuel tank holds approximately 21 gallons. Finally, the Tacoma boasts a satisfactory towing capability of 3,500 pounds.

In comparison, the Ranger has just one engine style: a 2.3-liter, 270-horsepower, four-cylinder turbo engine. Again, it’s similar to the Tacoma regarding mileage: 21 mpg for the city and 26 mpg for the highway. As for towing capacity, the Ranger can haul a maximum of 7,500 pounds, so it certainly takes the cake in this category. Additionally, the Ranger comes with trailer stability technology to keep loads from swaying on the road.

So, while the Ranger boasts higher horsepower and towing power versus the Tacoma, the latter provides buyers with more options. Both vehicles have their advantages.

What about off-roading?

While the Tacoma has a reputation for reliability, the Ranger has garnered a positive reputation for its off-roading capabilities. Ford has even gone so far as to label its contender "the ultimate off-road vehicle." Already equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Ranger's optional upgrades include front and rear suspension, all-terrain tires, and a front-end, steel-coated bumper to complement the turbocharged engine. Long story short, those mountains and valleys won't know what hit them. 

The Tacoma's V6 engine is the best option for off-road travels, as it can haul 6,500-6,800 pounds easily. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road model is also a good quality selection; equipped with bypass shocks and a six-speed transmission, your adventure off the beaten path will feel nothing but smooth.

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road (from $38,950)

2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road (from $38,950)
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2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road (from $38,950)
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How long do Toyota Tacoma and Ford Rangers last?

Like any mechanical system, vehicles are prone to wear and tear over time, so it is vital to keep them well-maintained. The Tacoma, however, can go for up to 15 years and can clock an impressive 200,000-300,000 miles before needing major mechanical touch-ups or repairs.

The same applies to the Ranger. While earlier models tended to break down quicker, Ford has stepped up its game, and current versions can last anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 miles.

General upkeep is the most significant factor in extending the longevity of both the Tacoma and the Ranger.

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What about reliability and safety?

The Tacoma has established an impressive amount of driver loyalty, given how reliable the model is. JD Power ranked the 2021 Toyota Tacoma with a reliability rating of nearly 80 percent, a statistic that mirrors the truck’s overall customer satisfaction score. Additionally, in the realm of used vehicles, the Tacoma comes in first place on Shift’s list of most reliable trucks and Shift’s recommended picks of best overall trucks. It made the cut on the list of best used pickups available to purchase, too.

The Tacoma’s safety features include standardized driver assistance for smooth handling and cruise control. Forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and automated emergency braking come standard as well. 

The Tacoma boasts a total of eight airbags for the driver, front passenger, and in the sides of the vehicle as well, allowing for extra protection for additional riders. 

Ford also equipped the Ranger with multiple safety measures: a brake-assist system, traction control, and a rear-view camera are among the most notable. The Ranger features six airbags in the front and on the sides of the interior cabin.

Lastly, the Tacoma and the Ranger equally bagged four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in terms of their overall safety, too.

2019 Ford Ranger XLT (from $29,500)

 2019 Ford Ranger XLT (from $29,500)
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 2019 Ford Ranger XLT (from $29,500)
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How much do the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger cost to own?

Three versions of the 2021 Toyota Tacoma are available: the SR for $32,665, the TRD Off-Road for $37,530, and the Limited for $42,230. If you’re not looking to break the bank, Shift has used models priced at $15,950 to $42,950.

2021 Rangers go for anywhere between $25,070 to $39,035, depending on the trim level and other upgrades. Shift also has Rangers for sale, with prices that range from $28,950 to $37,950. 

Your perfect pickup is indeed out there, and rest assured, at Shift, certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every car before it joins the virtual showroom. They do also offer complete vehicle history reports for each model in their inventory. That means you not only know your used car feels as good as new but that it essentially is as good as new.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team