Tundra and Tacoma from Toyota

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 10/2019
  • posted in: Newswire

Tacoma or Tundra, midsize or full size, V-6 or V-8, V-neck or button down?

At first encounter, the smaller Tacoma exhales youth, adventure and “bring-it-on” fun, especially in the unmistakable Voodoo Blue TRD Pro model my son and I recently drove in Phoenix/ Scottsdale.

In contrast, the brawny Tundra 4×4 has the demeanor of a work-ethic family-provider truck, although, equipped with the TRD Sport package and 4 WD as ours was, it’s also equal to off-the-jobsite thrills in backcountry, desert and other challenging terrain. Our model sported fetching but somewhat more traditional Barcelona Red livery.


The “TRD” acknowledges the inspiration of Toyota’s many years of offroad racing experience in vehicles so equipped, explains Joshua Burns, Product Communications analyst with Toyota Motor North America in Plano, Texas. Available in six models, Tacoma offers the package variously as TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro.

Both of 4-wheel-drive vehicles had sufficient-plus power for the demands of everyday city and highway driving as well as hauling, towing and off-roading. The Tundra’s 5.7-liter V-8 generates a solid 381 horses at 5,600 rpm, with 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm and a 4.3 differential for good towing power.

The 3.5-liter V-6 Tacoma, standard for the TRD upgrade, produces 278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, with its maximum torque of 265 lb-ft at a higher 4,600 rpm. The differential ratio is 3.909, providing good towing capacity and fuel economy.


Both vehicles have smooth, efficient 6-speed transmissions, although these are different units. Manual is not available in the Tundra, while certain Tacoma models still offer a manual option. My son likes the stick and regularly despairs of its decline in the marketplace. I’m happy with today’s superb automatics, probably because I remember GM 2-speed Powerglides, which needed coaxing and sometimes a little prayer to get going, let alone get going quickly.

On a large 145.7-inch wheelbase and 228.9 inches bumper to bumper, the 5,640-pound Tundra is perhaps the better choice for the construction worker or repair-person or anyone who needs to haul large materials, tools or products regularly.

We had a Crew Max with a short bed, which would work for most applications, especially families needing that full-size rear door for car seats, children and packages. A long bed for serious hauling is available in the Double Cab configuration. The towing maximum for our Tundra was 9,800 pounds and maximum payload, 1,560 pounds, which will eat up most chores, at work or home.

2016 Toyota Tundra SRS 4 Door Trucks

At 212.3 inches in length, the 4,425-pound Tacoma TRD Pro has a maximum of 6,400 pounds towing and 1,175 pounds in payload, perhaps a better match for someone carrying lighter loads, making smaller deliveries such as my son, a computer technician. The Double Cab is offered in two versions, such as the one we had on a 127.4-inch wheelbase with a 60.5-inch bed, or the 140.6-inch wheelbase with a 73.7-inch bed.

We both preferred the V-8 power of the Tundra, although the Tacoma was more than capable in the scenarios we were able to create. The Tundra posts a 14 combined mpg, while the lighter Tacoma a 20 mpg, a significant difference for some.

With the ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) engaged on the Tacoma, we seemed to accelerate quicker and make lane changes more efficiently. Toyota also recommends this for driving in mountainous areas or when towing. “It essentially provides different timing for the engine and transmission to allow for each gear to rev higher into the power range for the situations where optimum performance is needed,” Burns notes.

The Tacoma TRD Pro is also equipped with a Multi-Terrain Select system, allowing the driver to choose between different terrain settings such as loose rock, mud and sand by regulating wheel spin. A Crawl position is also available for mogul-type climbing; this is not offered for the larger, heavier and higher-center-of-gravity Tundra.

Both vehicles also had lifestyle-enhancing upgrades, such as, in the Tacoma, a moonroof and the Entune Premium JBL Audio system featuring a 7-inch-high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen, hands-free phone capability, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and always helpful Siri.

The cars also had safety features such as extremely helpful Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Dynamic Radar Cruiser Control (DRCC), a radar mounted to the front of the vehicle to detect vehicles ahead and adjust speed accordingly. This overrides the vehicle cruise control, returning to the set speed only when a safe distance between the vehicles is reattained. This is another harbinger of safer autonomous driving.

The MSRPs for both, as equipped: Tacoma, $48,454; Tundra, $47,864.

Both of these fine vehicles will see changes for 2020, Toyota revealed at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show in February. Tundra, for example, will offer Smart Key with Push-Button start, multimedia with larger touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Tacoma will add similar multimedia features as well as safety items such as a Standard Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) and Multi Terrain Monitor (MTM).

For more information, see www.toyota.com