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2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Chris O'Neill February 2019
  • The Ford F-150 is the best-selling full-size truck in the U.S.

  • The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling midsize truck in the US.

  • Both offer fun off-road variants.

Editor's note: You may want to read more of Autotrader's model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Ford F-150 review, and the 2019 Toyota Tacoma review.

The 2019 Ford F-150 and the Toyota Tacoma are set to defend their titles as the best-selling pickups in their respective classes. Both have earned great reputations over the years for their capability and reliability. Despite the fact that they compete in different classes, their sheer popularity might have you considering either one in your search for a new pickup. Below we'll compare them in a variety of categories to help identify their respective strengths and weaknesses, before giving our take on which is the better buy, even if it is hard to compare these two head-to-head.

2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma basic specs

Background

Ford's F-Series line of trucks sells in huge volumes -- around 900,000 were sold in 2017. The current-gen F-150 went on sale for the 2015 model year and received an update for 2018. A wide range of engines are offered. At the low end is a 3.3-liter V6 making 290 horsepower. Also on the table is a high-powered twin-turbo V6 that makes up to 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, along with a new diesel option that offers a good balance between fuel economy and towing capacity.

The 2019 Ford F-150 starts at around $28,000 in simple XL trim, while a fully loaded Limited or Platinum model will easily exceed $70,000. See the 2019 Ford F-150 models for sale near you

The Tacoma last received a full redesign for 2016. Known for its dependability and great resale value, the Tacoma is smaller and less work-oriented than the F-150, but can still be a great solution for those with light-duty needs. The Tacoma only offers two engine options, neither of which is up to par with even the F-150's weakest engine. While base models come with a 4-cylinder, buyers should look toward the Tacoma's 3.5-liter V6, which makes 278 hp. While the Tacoma is rated to tow up to 6,800 pounds, it's nowhere near the tow vehicle that the F-150 is, and buyers looking to tow consistently will want to opt for the Ford. Still, if you're looking for a fun vehicle to accompany an active lifestyle, the Tacoma is a sound choice. See the 2019 Toyota Tacoma models for sale near you

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma carries a starting price just north of $25,000 and tops out at over $47,000 in TRD Pro form.

F-150 Powertrains

A range of 6- and 8-cylinder gas engines along with a new diesel, are offered in the F-150:

>3.3-liter V6: 290 hp; 265 lb-ft

Miles per gallon - Rear-wheel drive: 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined; 4-wheel drive: 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined

2.7-liter Turbo V6: 325 hp; 400 lb-ft

MPG - RWD: 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined; 4WD: 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined

5.0-liter V8: 395 hp; 400 lb-ft

MPG - RWD: 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined; 4WD: 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined

3.5-liter Turbo V6: 375 hp; 470 lb-ft

MPG - RWD: 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined; 4WD: 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined

3.5-liter High-Output Turbo V6: 450 hp; 510 lb-ft

MPG - 4WD: 15 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined

3.0-liter Turbodiesel: 250 hp; 440 lb-ft

MPG - RWD: 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined; 4WD: 20 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined

The F-150 comes equipped with either a 6- or a 10-speed automatic transmission. No manual is offered.

Tacoma Powertrains

The Tacoma offers two different engines, an ancient 4-cylinder and a V6, which makes up the majority of sales:

2.7-liter 4-cylinder: 159 hp; 180 lb-ft

MPG - RWD: 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined; 4WD: 19 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined (automatic)

3.5-liter V6: 268 hp; 275 lb-ft

MPG - RWD: 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined; 4WD 18 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined (automatic)

V6 Tacomas are available with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. The 4-cylinder Tacoma is only available with the automatic.

Each of the F-150's available powertrain options makes more power, while also earning similar or better fuel economy than the most potent Tacoma. Needless to say, the F-150 is years ahead of the Tacoma in this regard.

The same dynamic holds true when you look at towing capacities. The least capable F-150 still has a maximum towing capacity of 7,700 pounds, while the most capable Tacoma has a maximum towing capacity of only 6,800 pounds. In its most capable form, the F-150 can tow 13,200 pounds.

2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma dimensions

Dimensions

Given that these trucks compete in different classes, they have considerably different interior and exterior dimensions. Below we'll take a look at these two vehicles in their 4-door crew cab configurations.

The F-150 SuperCrew offers 40.8 inches of headroom and 43.9 inches of legroom up front. Second row F-150 passengers get 40.4 inches of headroom and a whopping 43.6 inches of legroom.

The Tacoma's 4-door Double Cab configuration offers 39.7 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom up front. In the second row, things are pretty tight, with only 38.3 inches of headroom and 32.6 inches of legroom offered.

The F-150 also offers much larger bed options than the Tacoma. The F-150 offers three different bed lengths to the Tacoma's two. F-150 buyers can choose between either a 5.5-foot, a 6.5-foot or an 8-foot box, while Tacoma buyers are limited to 5.0-foot or 6.0-foot options. In order to put things into perspective -- the F-150's smallest bed actually offers more cargo room than the Tacoma's largest option.

2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma trim levels

Trim Levels

The F-150 offers work truck, mainstream, off-road and luxury trim levels. At the top of the lineup is the Limited model, which offers premium touches like a panoramic sunroof, high-end heated and ventilated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, power running boards and 22-in wheels. There's also the Raptor, which is the pound-for-pound best off-road pickup on the market. We'll get further into a comparison of the off-road variants of these two trucks in the Off-Road section below.

The Tacoma's range of available trim levels don't quite approach the level of luxury or performance one can find on the F-150. SR, SR5 and Limited models are offered, along with three TRD models. The Tacoma's most compelling trim levels are those that leverage it's innate off-road ability. The TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro both include fun off-road features that make for a lot of fun when the pavement turns to dirt.

2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma off-road

Off-Road

Most of you are probably familiar with the F-150 Raptor and the Tacoma TRD Pro and came here hoping for a comparison of the two. Here's the thing -- they aren't really competitors. The Tacoma TRD Pro's off-road improvements consist of medium-duty off-road shock absorbers and a skid plate. Everything else is cosmetic. The Raptor on the other hand sees a boost in the output of its 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine, widened front and rear track, skid plates, heavier-duty control arms, large 35-in BF Goodrich KO2 All-Terrain tires, unique driving and steering modes, paddle shifters and heavy-duty off-road shocks, now with a new electronic component for 2019 that can adjust dampening to road conditions.

Price is a huge differentiator between the F-150 Raptor and the Tacoma TRD Pro. The average Tacoma TRD Pro will carry a sticker price of around $48,000, while most Raptors you see sitting on dealer lots will be priced between $65,000 and $70,000.

2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma interior

Technology and Infotainment

This one isn't even close -- the F-150's infotainment setup is years ahead of the Tacoma's. The F-150 can be had with an 8-in infotainment screen running the latest version of Ford's Sync infotainment software, which is among the better systems in the industry. Additionally, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, as is 4G LTE capability that can be used to create a mobile hotspot in the vehicle. The F-150 also has ample 12 volt, USB and three-prong power outlets throughout its cabin.

The Tacoma's infotainment setup is sorely in need of an update. The Tacoma lacks compatibility with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, offering only Toyota's dated and primitive Entune setup. The Tacoma has two 12-volt outlets and only one USB port. It does score some bonus points, though, for offering an available wireless charger along with a 3-prong home outlet cleverly located in the bed.

2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma safety

Safety

Both the F-150 and the Tacoma perform well in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning Good scores across all major categories. Both vehicles also offer ample driver-assistance safety features, scoring them extra points.

The Tacoma comes standard with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. Rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic detection are added with upper trim levels.

The F-150 offers forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and parking assist, all of which are optional. The F-150 also offers a trailer backup system, and an available trailer brake controller.

While both of these vehicles are obviously pretty safe, the F-150 takes the cake here, thanks to its inclusion of a few additional active safety features.

Reliability

Ford and Toyota both offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. To put it simply, both of these trucks are reliable. The Tacoma is regarded as one of the toughest vehicles on sale in the U.S. and as a result, offers excellent resale value, while the F-150 offers great capability and dependability, as well.

Conclusions

The F-150 and the Tacoma compete in different classes. The Tacoma is a midsize pickup and offers fun off-road aesthetics at an attainable price, and likely appeals more to individuals who value the tough Toyota truck aesthetic. The F-150 is an incredible value when you really look at it, offering good reliability as well, along with modern technology and ample capability -- well in excess of what you get with a Tacoma.

If you're still on the fence and price isn't your main motivator, opt for an F-150, as it offers better features, more modern technology and is an overall more refined product than the Tacoma, which is truly mediocre in many regards, save for its great resale value. The Tacoma's engine and transmission options are sub-par, and it's sorely lacking with regard to interior ergonomics and technology. Overall, the F-150 is the better buy, provided it fits in your garage, and is within your budget. Find a Ford F-150 for sale or Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2019 Ford F-150 vs. 2019 Toyota Tacoma: Which Is Better? - Autotrader