Built to be tough and dependable, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma is a staple among mid-sized trucks. What the Tacoma lacks in sophistication and comfort, it makes up for in real off-road ability.
Over the past 25 years, the Tacoma has dominated the mid-size truck segment, but it should be noted that newer contenders, such as the 2021 Ford Ranger, 2021 Chevrolet Colorado, 2021 Jeep Gladiator, and soon to arrive, all-new 2022 Nissan Frontier, are hard on the Toyota’s heels.
For 2021, the Tacoma builds on a major update in 2020. There are a few enhancements and a new Trail Special Edition model, with production limited to 7,000 units.
The upgrades include new dual-zone automatic climate control as standard on all V6 models. Also, improved audio systems in the TRD Sport and Off-Road models allow buyers to access premium remote connect services (on automatic transmission versions).
The 2021 Tacoma Trail Edition is based on the SR5 double-cab trim and can be ordered in rear-wheel drive (RWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD) form. All-terrain tires are fitted, and there are lockable bed storage bins. One of the bins is insulated and can be used as a cooler. The bed also has a 120-volt power outlet.
There are no less than six Tacoma trims to choose from, and multiple configurations that involve a choice of two engines and transmissions, two cab styles and two bed lengths, plus several packages and options.
2021 Toyota Tacoma SR/SR5 (starting at $26,150)
If you opt for the entry-level 2021 Tacoma SR trim or the slightly better equipped SR5 version, keep in mind they are equipped as standard with a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine, producing a meager 159 horsepower.
Our recommendation is to go with the optional 3.5-liter V6. Not only is the V6’s 278 horsepower much better at motivating the Tacoma, but you can also pair the larger engine with an optional 6-speed manual transmission. This combination extracts the best performance from the Tacoma without much penalty in fuel consumption over the 4-cylinder engine, which only comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The SR/SR5 trims can be ordered with the Access Cab, which has rear-hinged half doors to enter the cramped rear seats, or the 4-door Double Cab, which improves the rear space a little and adds a 60/40 split-folding seat.
The SR/SR5 and higher trim models with the Access Cab ride on a 127-in wheelbase and come with a long 73-in bed. However, the Double Cab versions come in two flavors: one based on the 127-in wheelbase with a shorter 60-in bed, and the other offering a 140-in wheelbase and the 73-in bed.
Standard equipment on the Tacoma SR includes 16-in steel wheels, power-adjustable and heated door mirrors, 6-speaker audio system, 7.0-in touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
The SR5 trim upgrades to alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, remote locking, an 8.0-in touchscreen, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. When equipped with the V6 engine, the SR5 is fitted with a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar support.
All Tacoma trims are equipped as standard with Toyota Safety Sense, a suite of driver aids that includes a pre-collision warning system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert, and automatic high beams.
2021 Toyota Tacoma SR/SR5 includes:
- Toyota Safety Sense — a suite of active safety and driver-assist systems
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto –- makes smartphone users happy.
- Decent sized touchscreens — gives otherwise plain cabin a high-tech feel.
- Available V6 engine — definitely worth considering for the extra performance.
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport/TRD Off-Road (starting at $34,315)
Inside, the fabric seat trim is embossed for a more upscale look and feel, and leather seat trim is available. The driver’s seat has 10-way power adjustability.
The exteriors of the TRD trims are distinguished by 17-in wheels and LED foglights. On the Sport trim the shock absorbers are tuned for paved road use. The Off-Road version comes with suitably calibrated Bilstein shock absorbers, plus an electronically controlled locking rear differential, hill start assist control, rock crawl control (with five low-speed settings) and active traction control.
When equipped with automatic transmission and 4WD, the TRD Off-Road trim features a multi-terrain mode system. The user can select different drive modes to suit conditions, including loose rock, mud, or sand for the best traction possible.
If we stick with the same 60-month loan at 3% financing as used for the SR, a Tacoma TRD Sport would cost $609 per month. Find a Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road for sale or Find a Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport for sale
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport/Off-Road includes:
- Panoramic view monitor — handy 360-degree bird’s-eye vehicle overview.
- Multi-terrain monitor –- cameras show potential obstacles around the vehicle on the Off Road model.
- Drive mode system — great for getting most out of the vehicle in varied off-road conditions.
2021 Toyota Tacoma Limited (starting at $38,905)
The Limited trim adds a few premium touches on the top of the TRD Sport feature list. Larger, 18-in alloy wheels are included, as are LED headlights, a sunroof, leather seat trim, navigation system, JBL speakers, and blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
Black or brown leather-trimmed seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and an 8.0-in. touchscreen with premium audio system are all part of the Tacoma Limited’s standard equipment.
A base Limited will produce a monthly payment of close to $688. Find a Toyota Tacoma Limited for sale
2021 Toyota Tacoma Limited includes:
- 18-in wheels — large wheels accentuate Tacoma’s tough image.
- Blind-spot monitor — one of the best modern safety features for accident avoidance.
- Sunroof — makes cabin feel roomier.
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro (starting at $44,075)
King of the hill among Tacoma trims is the TRD Pro, which combines the TRD Off-Road Double Cab short-bed model with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
Aimed at the serious off-road driver, the TRD Pro looks the part with blacked-out hood scoop, color-keyed door mirrors and door handles, black fender trim, and color-keyed rear bumper.
Building on the TRD Off-Road trim standard equipment, the TRD Pro adds a substantial number of suspension, lighting, and styling upgrades. The Pro model rides on 16-in black alloy wheels with a 1-in wider track than the TRD Off-Road grade. The wheels are shod with Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain Kevlar-reinforced tires.
Inside, the TRD Pro is dressed up with black leather-covered heated front seats. The driver has a 10-way power-adjustable seat. A power moonroof is standard and premium audio with JBL speakers is included on automatic transmission equipped versions.
In the instrument panel, a 4.2-in. color display features an inclinometer and tilt gauge, plus outside temperature and other information.
The Tacoma TRD Pro will cost about $776 a month in payments over 60 months. Find a Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro for sale
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro includes:
- Beefier suspension — allows for more serious off-road adventures.
- Blacked-out exterior styling cues — visual candy for the image-conscious.
- Instrument panel tilt gauge — know when you are reaching your limits off-road.