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2019 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2019 Toyota Tundra: What's the Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill October 2018
  • The 2019 Toyota Tacoma and Tundra both offer a full suite of standard driver safety features.

  • The Tundra is the oldest full-size truck on the market.

  • Both the Tundra and Tacoma offer TRD Pro models for 2019.

The Toyota Tacoma and Tundra are two of the most trusted pickups on the market. The Tacoma was first introduced in 1995 and recently received a full redesign for 2016, bringing it up to modern standards for design and safety technology.

The Tundra has been around a while, last receiving a full redesign for 2007, making it one of the oldest vehicles on the market. It uses a pair of extremely inefficient V8 engines, and lacks the refinement of competing pickups from Ford, GM and Ram. That said, like the Tacoma it offers standard driver assistance safety features.

Below, we'll take a look at these two trucks and how they stack up against one another in an effort to help buyers understand and appreciate their main differences.

Exterior

The Tundra is significantly bigger outside than the Tacoma, although both wear tough styling and are clearly related to one another.

Crew cab variants of both vehicles were phased out in recent years, leaving two cab sizes for either vehicle. Fitted with the smaller "Access Cab," the Tacoma features a rear-hinged half door for accessing the rear seats, while larger "Double Cab" Tacomas feature four full-sized doors. The Tacoma Access Cab is only available with a 6-foot bed, while the Double Cab can be configured with either a 6-foot bed or a 5-foot short bed.

The Tundra is available in similar configurations, in this case referred to as "Double Cab" and "CrewMax." Both variations feature four front-hinged doors, but the CrewMax variant is significantly bigger. Tundra Double Cab models can be configured with a 6.5-foot standard bed or an 8.1-foot long bed. CrewMax models are available only with a 5.5-foot short bed.

Fitted with the short bed, the Tacoma offers 38 cu ft. of cargo space, while its long bed offers 47 cu ft. The Tundra offers 55 cu ft. from its short bed, 65 cu ft. from its standard length bed and 81 cu ft. from its long bed.

Interior

The full-size Tundra offers larger interior dimensions than the midsize Tacoma, although the differences aren't as widespread as one might think. The Tacoma offers 39.7 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom in the front seat. In the back seat of double cab models, 38.3 inches of headroom and 32.6 inches of legroom are offered. The Tundra gives front seat passengers 39.7 inches of headroom and 42.5 inches of legroom. In the Tundra's largest "CrewMax" cab configuration, back seat passengers get 38.9 inches of headroom and 42.3 inches of legroom.

Neither the 2019 Toyota Tacoma or Tundra offers a particularly plush interior. The Tacoma's was designed with affordability and durability in mind, while the Tundra's interior would've been considered nice when the vehicle was last all-new in 2007, but it now feels old and dated in the modern era.


Mechanicals and Capability

The Tacoma is available with two different engines. Base models come with a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder making 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The more desirable engine is the 3.5-liter V6, which puts out 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque and can be paired with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. With the V6, automatic and 4-wheel drive, the Tacoma achieves 18 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined.

The Tundra is also offered with two engines, both of which are V8s. On the low end is a 4.6-liter V8 putting out 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque. The better engine is the venerable 5.7-liter V8. The 5.7-liter makes 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. All Tundras are offered with a 6-speed automatic transmission. With the bigger V8 and 4-wheel drive, the Tundra manages only 13 mpg city, 17 mpg hwy and 15 mpg overall; the least competitive figures in the full-size truck segment.

The Tundra offers more capability in the way of towing and payload capacity. Tundra models offer between 6,400 and 10,200 lbs of towing capacity, while the Tacoma offers between 3,500 and 6,800 lbs. Payload is more of the same; the Tundra offers up to 1,730 lbs of maximum payload, while the Tacoma can carry a maximum of 1,620. Both the Tacoma and Tundra offer trailer sway control for use when towing, but only the Tundra is available with an integrated trailer brake controller.

The Tacoma and Tundra both offer high-spec off-road TRD Pro trim levels; the Tundra's making a return for 2019 after a 1-year hiatus. Both TRD Pro models are offered with heavy-duty Fox off-road suspension resulting in a 1-inch lift, an aluminum front skid plate, black TRD wheels and a black plastic "Toyota" wordmark grille. The Tacoma is much more suited to recreational off-road use than the larger Tundra due largely to the presence of additional off-road tech including Multi-Terrain Select mode, Crawl Control and a locking rear differential. New for the 2019 Tacoma is an optional fender-mounted "desert air intake," which moves the vehicle's air intake up and out of the dust so the vehicle can breathe cleaner air in dusty off-road situations.

Features and Technology

The Tacoma and Tundra are both lacking a bit when it comes to infotainment. Most trim levels of both vehicles come with a similar 7.0-inch screen. Neither is available with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which is sorely missed, given the shortcomings of Toyota's own infotainment software. The Tundra and Tacoma are also lacking when it comes to connectivity ports. Both vehicles offer just two 12-volt outlets and only one USB port.

Additional features available on the Tacoma are a wireless charging pad, a standard deck rail system and a 120-volt outlet located in the bed.

The Tundra offers luxurious Platinum and 1974 Edition trim levels, which offer high-end leather, unique wheels and other luxury features. The Tundra also features a unique roll-down rear window.

Safety

In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Tacoma scores better than the Tundra, likely a result of the Tundra's advancing age. The Tacoma earns marks of Good across the board, while the Tundra earns only a Marginal in the small front overlap test and an Acceptable in the roof strength test.

Toyota earns a lot of credit for fitting both of these vehicles with a suite of standard driver assistance safety features, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning with front automated emergency braking and lane-departure warning. Optional are blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection and rear parking sensors. The Tundra also offers available front parking sensors.

While both of these vehicles are fairly safe, the Tacoma has a leg up given its much better performance in IIHS crash testing.

Quality & Reliability

Either of these vehicles should offer excellent reliability. For a lot of buyers, this is the main reason to buy a Toyota truck, and Toyotas typically see great resale value. Toyota offers a 3-year, 36,000-mile basic and 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, on par with the rest of the mainstream automakers.

Conclusions

The Tacoma and Tundra are both tough, reliable trucks that offer excellent dependability and resale value. What sets them apart are their respective sizes -- the Tundra competes with the likes of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Nissan Titan, and offers big truck attributes like a V8 engine and the ability to tow up to 10,200vlbs. Ultimately, though, the Tundra is extremely old, and buyers should take a look at competing models from other manufacturers before buying a new Tundra.

The Tacoma is based on a more modern design and is geared more toward an active lifestyle than it is full-size work truck duty. A midsize pickup, the Tacoma competes with the Chevrolet Colorado and upcoming Ford Ranger and Jeep pickup. If all you're looking for a is a fun vehicle to handle home improvement projects and to take on the occasional weekend adventure, the Tacoma is the better truck. Both the Tundra and Tacoma offer off-road variants, but the Tacoma is the better option for someone looking for a true off-roader, given the inclusion of features like crawl control, multi-terrain select mode and a locking rear differential.

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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 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2019 Toyota Tundra: What's the Difference? - Autotrader