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2021 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2021 Ford Ranger: Which Is Better?

The long-established 2021 Toyota Tacoma bumps heads with the 2021 Ford Ranger, a relative renewed kid on the block. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Tacoma is a best-seller despite fierce competition from others; Over thirty configurations possible; Available manual transmission.
  • Ford Ranger has sleek looks; Off-road capable Tremor package; Multiple configurations.

2021 Toyota Tacoma

2021 Toyota Tacoma
Base Price: $28,155 / Read our 2021 Toyota Tacoma Review

What we like:  Reliable and highly customizable for a variety of needs; TRD package is off-road capable; Legendary Toyota build quality and excellent resale value help seal the deal.

What we would change: The styling is becoming a bit dated, even with the Anime-style grille; Due for an update.

Overview: The best-selling midsize truck on the road today, the Toyota Tacoma is still the leader of the pack. Kudos to the brand for excellent build quality. A high number of configurations can handle many buyer’s needs; By the numbers, there are 33 model combinations available with long or short beds, differing cab sizes, and more. Off-road enthusiasts can equip their TRD models with a six-speed manual transmission.

What’s new for 2021: V6 models now get dual-zone climate control standard. New Trail Edition is based on SR5 Double Cab, while the Nightshade model is based on Limited Double Cab. TRD Pro models get Lunar Rock as a new color.

Features and Technology: Tacoma receives standard power from a 2.7-liter inline-4 making 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The available 3.5-liter V6 makes 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque gets almost the same mileage. It would be our overall choice. Tow capable up to 6,800 pounds.

What does the future hold: Rumors are worth what you pay for them, but we hear of a possible redesign for the 2024 model year. See 2021 Toyota Tacoma models for sale near you

2021 Ford Ranger

2021 Ford Ranger
Base Price: $28,015 / Read our 2021 Ford Ranger Review

What we like: Single but powerful engine choice; Good fuel economy; 7,500-pound tow rating; Best-in-class payload.

What we would change: Add powertrain choices; Expand cab and bed options; rough ride at times.

Overview: With two cab sizes, a couple of bed lengths, and a single powertrain choice, some may think the Ford Ranger is limited in its abilities. But not so fast: The best in class payload and a hefty tow rating get to do the talking here, and when combined with high-tech infotainment and safety features add up to a well-rounded vehicle. 

What’s new for 2021: New for 2021, the Tremor Off-Road package becomes available

Features and technology: The Ford Ranger returns to the midsize truck market with a highly adaptable truck that makes everyone forget the previous version. The Ranger is powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline 4-cylinder engine developing 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That power routes through a 10-speed automatic transmission. If friends and family are along for the ride, we recommend the SuperCrew over the tighter SuperCab. The Tow-Optimized Blind Spot Monitoring system extends rear vision to whatever is being towed behind the truck. That feature, along with the Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker audio system, form a pair of our favorite options. Co-Pilot360 safety suite is standard.

What does the future hold: The Ford Tremor is new for 2021 and features real off-road capabilities. Expect the current design to undergo minor trim changes during the next two or three years. See 2021 Ford Ranger Models for sale near you

Tacoma vs. Ranger: Strengths Comparison 

Toyota Tacoma benefits: Reliability; capabilities; substantial resale value.

Ford Ranger benefits: Fuel efficient, Best-in-class payload, and strong towing.

2021 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2021 Ford Ranger: Which Is Better?

The Ford Ranger is one of the latest models to hit the big time. Its new looks and vast group of options will satisfy most buyers. Conversely, the Toyota Tacoma provides a wide variety of vehicles for most users with outstanding reliability and resale value. For these reasons, the Tacoma is our pick. Find a 2021 Toyota Tacoma for sale or Find a 2021 Ford Ranger for sale

2021 Toyota Tacoma 2021 Ford Ranger
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.7-liter I4 2.3-liter Turbo I4
Horsepower 159 hp @ 5,200 rpm 270 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 180 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission 6-spd automatic 10-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 21 mpg (20 city/23 hwy) 23 mpg (21 city/26 hwy)
Also Available 3.5-liter V6; 6 M/T; AWD; Cabs & Beds  AWD; Cabs and Beds; Tremor off-road package
Specs
Warranty 3years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 4-star 4-star
Max Seating Capacity 4 5
Wheelbase 127.4 inches 126.8 inches
Overall Length 212.3 inches 210.8 inches
Width 75.2 inches 77.8 inches
Height 70.6 inches 71.1 inches
Turning Diameter 40.6 feet 42.0 feet
Headroom, Front 39.7 inches 41.0 inches
Headroom, Rear 34.9 inches 38.3 inches
Legroom, Front 42.9 inches 43.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 24.6 inches 34.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.3 inches 56.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 56.5 inches 56.3 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 100.1 cu. ft. 97.6 cu. ft.
Max Payload 1,620 pounds 2,128 pounds
Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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