With the cover now off the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, the entire class of next-generation midsize pickups is finally in full view. And the Tacoma certainly looks to have earned its spot, with an all new design inside and out, a trio of compelling powertrains (including an available i-Force Max hybrid just like the larger Tundra) and several high-end, go-anywhere trim packages.
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With the segment truly hotted-up now, the time has come to compare the new Taco with the midsize pickup rivals built to give it a run for its money. If you’re in the market for such a vehicle, you sure have some choices to make. Here’s a guide to help, beginning with a recap of the new Tacoma’s most pertinent specs.
- Price: We don’t know yet! What we do know is that the outgoing Tacoma starts at $29,585 including destination for the two-wheel-drive, 2.7-liter inline-four-powered SR trim, that offers a paltry 179 horsepower. Thankfully that engine isn’t sticking around. Expect more info on the Tacoma’s pricing later this year.
- Length: This, too, remains a secret. However, Toyota told MotorTrend that “the length of the new truck [is] essentially unchanged” from the previous generation, despite the wheelbase increasing about four inches. For the 2023 Tacoma, overall length measured 212.3 inches, both for Access Cab-equipped pickups with the 5-foot bed and Double Cab trucks with the 6-foot bed. Both bed/cab configurations choices persist for the upcoming model.
- Power: Base 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four with 228 hp and 243 lb-ft torque; optional high-output 2.4-liter turbo with 278 hp and 317 lb-ft torque; optional hybrid 2.4-liter turbo with 326 hp and 465 lb-ft torque
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic for all grades; 6-speed manual with automatic rev matching available for high-output, non-hybrid engine (manual reduces output to 270 hp and 310 lb-ft)
- MPG City/Average/Highway: TBA
- Max Payload/Towing (lbs): 1,709 (TRD Off-Road)/6,500 (SR5 I-Force and TRD PreRunner)
- Standard Features: Smart key system with push-button start; Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 with pre-collision assist; hill-start assist; 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; roof with integrated attachment holes
- Price: The base 2WD Frontier S trim with the King Cab starts at $30,705 including destination. That goes up to $33,405 for the SV model, and adding 4WD for either tacks on about another $3,000. The cheapest Frontier with the larger Crew Cab begins at $32,005, followed by $34,805 for the SV version of that truck, all the way up to the range-topping PRO-4X model at $40,235.
- Length: 210.2 inches; 5-foot bed (extended King Cab and 6-foot bed also available)
- Power: 3.8-liter V6 with 310 hp and 281 lb-ft torque
- Transmission: 9-speed automatic
- MPG City/Average/Highway: 18/20/24 for 2WD; 17/19/22 for 4WD
- Max Payload/Towing (lbs): 1,610/6,720 for 2WD (trim, drivetrain and bed size depending)
- Standard Features: Nissan Safety Shield 360 with intelligent forward collision warning and driver alertness system; trailer sway control; hill start assist; 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; 7-inch configurable instrument cluster display
The Nissan Frontier got a new lease on life for 2022, with a modern design and — likely more relevant to buyers — the most powerful standard engine in its class. In fact, the Frontier’s 3.6-liter V6 is the only engine on offer, so it starts to lose its value advantage once you get up there in the higher trims.
The Frontier’s interior seems a beat behind the new Taco, and Nissan doesn’t offer one with a third pedal. In fact, that’s unfortunately true of the rest of the truck market, save for the Jeep Gladiator. Alternatives may be a little more refined, but of course “refinement” is a dirty word for a certain subset of pickup buyers. For them, there’s the Frontier.
- Price: The base 2WD Colorado WT (that’s “Work Truck”) starts at $30,695 with shipping — though of course, Chevrolet doesn’t expect most regular people to buy that one. The cheapest normal Colorado is the 2WD LT, at $33,095. Adding 4WD to either increases the price by about $3,300. The Trail Boss ($38,495), Z71 ($41,395) and range-topping ZR2 ($48,295) all exclusively come with 4WD and the stronger 310-hp engine.
- Length: 212.7-213.2 inches (trim depending); 5-foot, 2-inch bed
- Power: Base 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four with 237 hp and 259 lb-ft torque; optional 2.7-liter turbo “Plus” with 310 hp and 390 lb-ft torque; ZR2-only high-output 2.7-liter turbo with 310 hp and 430 lb-ft torque
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- MPG City/Average/Highway: 20/22/25 for 2WD; 19/21/23 for 4WD; 17/19/21 for 4WD with “Plus” engine; 17/18/19 for ZR2
- Max Payload/Towing (lbs): 1,684/7,700 for WT, LT (max towing requires optional package)
- Standard Features: Chevy Safety Assist with forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking; 11.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; 8-inch configurable instrument cluster display
The new Colorado can out-haul and out-tow the Tacoma if you spec it as such, and compares well in terms of power — albeit, without the option of a fuel-sipping, torquey hybrid. It’s a well-rounded midsize pickup, but it does force you to make some some sacrifices with regard to configuration. The Colorado only comes with one type of cab and a 5-foot bed. If you can live with that, there aren’t really any downsides. And if you like the Colorado but happen to have even more to spend on a luxurious pickup, may we suggest the GMC Canyon?
- Price: We’re still missing some information here, because thus far Ford has only announced that the SuperCrew model of the new Ranger starts at $34,160. The existing SuperCab, with a 6-foot bed but just two doors, goes for $29,540, so you can expect the equivalent version of the new-gen truck to at least be lower in price, even if not quite sub-$30K low. What we can say is that if it’s the Raptor you’re after, you’ll have to part with $56,690.
- Length: 210.6 inches; 5-foot bed (6-foot bed TBA)
- Power: Base 2.3-liter turbo inline-four with 270 hp and 310 lb-ft torque; optional 2.7-liter turbo V6 with 315 hp and 400 lb-ft torque; Raptor-only twin-turbo V6 with 405 hp and 430 lb-ft torque
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic
- MPG City/Average/Highway: Ford hasn’t said yet. However, the old Ranger had the exact same turbo four, and in 2WD guise it returned an EPA-estimated 20/22/26, while the 4WD got 19/21/24. Expect numbers in that ballpark.
- Max Payload/Towing (lbs): 1,805/7,500 for 2WD (max capacity requires Trailer Tow Package)
- Standard Features: Forward collision warning and automated emergency braking; 10.1-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; 8-inch configurable instrument cluster display
Alongside the new Tacoma, the 2024 Ford Ranger is the latest midsize truck to get a serious overhaul. And this one’s been a while coming, because it was first teased to the rest of the world way, way back in 2021. Ford expects to deliver the first 2024 Rangers by later summer.
Despite the new face, which maintains the Ranger’s mild manners relative to the rest of the pickup space, the latest iteration keeps one of the best aspects of the old model: that 270-hp, 2.3-liter EcoBoost four, which offered a very solid 26 mpg in two-wheel-drive form. The Tacoma’s i-Force Max hybrid might be down on power somewhat to the Raptor’s twin-turbo V6, but it bests Ford’s offering in torque, and will certainly win out in fuel economy. Toyota may just have the edge inside, too; the Taco’s dash looks more on par with its price.
The 2024 Tacoma certainly has its work cut out for it, but it’s also distinctive enough to succeed in the very competitive arena that is midsize trucking. It’s the only one offered with a manual or hybrid, and the existence of the new overlanding-focused Trailhunter trim in addition to the TRD Pro spec means that enthusiasts have even more options available to them. That said, if you’re looking to lug the most stuff, the Colorado or Ranger may serve you better.
The real question, as it always does, will come down to money spent. Trucks are wicked popular and new cars have never been pricier. With Toyota’s new slate of engines, the cheapest Taco will no longer be a miserable choice, and that alone counts for a lot. Expect an update once we receive word on pricing and fuel economy for both the Tacoma and Ranger.