|Fuel Economy (city/hwy mpg)
|Max Torque (lb. ft.)
|Max Towing (lbs)
Midsize pickup trucks are a great opportunity for those who want something sporty, compact, and tough to take on the challenges on the road and off the road. The Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma are two headlining trucks within the midsize category for their respective companies. For anyone undecided on which one they should go with, read on for our comparison between the 2021 Ford Ranger vs 2021 Toyota Tacoma. You can find out the ins and outs when it comes to performance, power, fuel economy, and towing.
When it comes to new features for both trucks, the Toyota Tacoma offers a new Trail Edition for the 2021 model year, in addition to the six available trims, which include the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. The Ford Ranger comes with a host of new and upgraded features for the 2021 model year spread across its three available trims, which include the XL, XLT, and the Lariat. Some of these new features include new powertrain configurations, driver-assist technology, interior comfort features, and more.
The performance of the 2021 Ford Ranger vs 2021 Toyota Tacoma is a lot closer than some people might think. The Tacoma, in fact, does have slightly higher horsepower across the top-end of its powertrain line-up, which consists of a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. While the 4-cylinder would be better suited to powering a compact car with its underwhelming 159 horsepower, the V6 produces a respectable 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque.
By comparison, the 2021 Ford Ranger has a smaller 2.3-liter EcoBoost as its only engine option, but the twin-scroll turbocharger and modern 10-speed automatic transmission more than make up for the low displacement. It only barely comes in behind the Tacoma's 3.5-liter in terms of horsepower, with 270 horses. However, it very much outperforms its Toyota rival when it comes to pure torque. In fact, the Ford Ranger delivers 310-pound feet of torque, which is more than a base F-150. This makes a huge difference across a number of facets when it comes to performance, acceleration, and even towing capabilities.
Ford touts that the 2.3-liter EcoBoost delivers nearly instantaneous power without any lag, and it's true. In actual road tests from 0 to 60 miles per hour, the Ford Ranger truly trounces the Tacoma on the tarmac. According to the data, the Ranger hits 0 to 60 miles per hour in as little as 6 seconds flat. The Tacoma, meanwhile, averaged around 7 seconds. That means there's around a 1-second difference in acceleration performance between the two trucks. It may not seem like much, but it certainly makes a difference when you want that available power instead of having to wait for the truck to generate it. The extra torque from the Ranger also plays a big factor in getting it off the line much faster than the Tacoma, which is why it also averages better acceleration times than the Toyota.
What's more is that despite the Tacoma having variable valve timing, the larger 3.5-liter engines still consume more fuel than Ford's 2.3-liter EcoBoost. The Tacoma's 3.5-liter guzzles fuel with its rating of up to 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. You can achieve slightly better gas mileage with the Tacoma if you go with the 2.7-liter 4-cylinder, but you're also giving up a lot of horsepower and torque in the process. While the 2.7-liter nets you 20 miles per gallon in the city and up to 23 miles per gallon on the highway, you're also stuck with only 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque.
Given that the 2021 Ford Ranger only has one powertrain, it always delivers maximum performance and the best fuel economy available across the entire model year range. You have up to 21 miles per gallon in the city and up to 26 miles per gallon on the highway. Overall, you get better off-the-line performance and power dependability from the Ranger, along with better gas mileage both in the city and on the highway.
The torque on both trucks plays a huge part when it comes to the towing capabilities of the 2021 Ford Ranger vs 2021 Toyota Tacoma. The Ranger's 310 pound-feet of torque help it achieve a tow rating of 7,500 pounds. This is compared to the Tacoma's 6,800-pound tow rating. However, the 6,800 tow rating isn't consistent across every trim and powertrain for the Tacoma. The 2.7-liter 4-cylinder only manages a tow rating of 3,500 pounds.
The payload for the Tacoma also varies based on trim, drivetrain layout, and powertrain configuration. The four-wheel drive Limited trim with the 3.5-liter V6 configured as a Double Cab gives you the lowest payload rating of only 1,095 pounds. The rear-wheel drive Tacoma configured as an Access Cab with the 2.7-liter 4-cylinder nets you the highest payload rating of 1,685 pounds. So there's a lot of give and take when it comes to towing versus payload capacity.
For the Ford Ranger, the tow-rating is consistent across the entire trim line. The payload capacity does vary depending on the cab and drivetrain configuration. This ranges from 1,430 pounds in the Tremor SuperCrew, up to 1,860 pounds of payload capacity in the SuperCab format when configured in rear-wheel drive format. You have an overall better average payload capacity with the Ranger, as well as a higher top-end payload capacity compared to the Tacoma.
Inside midsize pickup trucks, you have access to a lot of features and comfort items. Both pickups seat up to 5 people and come with various packages and options to upgrade the interior amenities. For the Tacoma, you have access to available leather-trimmed heated seats with a 4-way power adjustable passenger seat if you go with the TRD Pro trim. You also have access to Qi-compatible wireless smart device charging for the upper-end trims, along with a urethane or leather-trimmed steering wheel.
On the infotainment front, you have up to an 8-inch touchscreen with premium audio options that include JBL speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. All of this is available along with wireless streaming capabilities thanks to Bluetooth functionality. The Tacoma also comes with the ToyotaCare complimentary maintenance plan and the Toyota Safety Sense suite, featuring driver aids and assists.
The 2021 Ford Ranger sports many of the same features, but with a few added bonuses, including an all-new 8-way power adjustable passenger seat on the XLT and Lariat trims. Dual-zone electronic temperature control is also now standard on the XLT and Lariat trims, along with the SYNC 3 infotainment suite. Speaking of infotainment, all three trims come standard with multiple display units in the front of the cabin, including dual 4.2-inch productivity screens and an 8-inch touchscreen standard on the Lariat trim.
A new 110-volt AC outlet has also been made standard on select Ranger trims. The Ford Co-Pilot360 safety technology suite is also offered across all the Ranger's trims, along with black urethane steering wheels with optional leather coverings. There's also the availability of either leather or vinyl seats with micro-suede inserts for those who wanted an extra touch of luxury emanating throughout the interior of the Ranger. For a premium audio experience, a Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker setup is available, with voice-activated navigation and AppLink support.