The midsize pickup truck market has several popular models, and for good reason. Midsize trucks are dramatically less expensive to buy and operate than their larger full-size pickup siblings yet still offer more towing, and payload capacity than most private owners will ever need. Their interiors and amenities are just as well equipped and advanced as larger trucks, with cutting-edge infotainment and plushy seating. Two of the very best examples of the virtues of the midsize pickup truck are the 2021 Chevy Colorado and 2021 Toyota Tacoma. When comparing the 2021 Chevy Colorado vs 2021 Toyota Tacoma, it becomes apparent that while both of them are highly capable machines, the Colorado manages to come out on top.
Among the many practical uses pickup trucks are often used for, towing tends to be the headliner. Pickup trucks are generally advertised as tough, capable machines and shown towing large loads. While not all owners use their trucks for towing consistently, it is an important general metric and one that is very important to certain operators.
These operators require a truck that combines reliability and general ruggedness with the ability to efficiently move small to medium-sized trailer loads with ease regularly, all while having a small footprint when not hooked up to a trailer. Midsize trucks are perfect for these tasks, and both the Tacoma and the Colorado fit the bill.
That said, the Colorado is indeed capable of towing more than the Tacoma. And not just in a peaky way where only the top trim level with a special package is superior. Quite the contrary, just about every directly comparable Colorado can tow more than just about every competing Tacoma. Perhaps more descriptively, no Colorado trim variant has less maximum towing ability than any of its rival Tacoma trim levels. Not just with the four cylinders, but with the V6 trailering packages both trucks offer as well. In the end, the Colorado maxes out at 7,700 lbs and the Tacoma tops out at 6,800 lbs.
Since the bed of a truck is one of its primary features, it stands to reason that payload capacity matters for multiple reasons. The most apparent reason is that if one needs to fill the truck bed at one point, the stronger, the better. Another reason is that the maximum bed payload correlates with the overall strength and longevity of the truck’s frame. Simply put, more payload capacity often means a stronger backbone.
Payload capacity is definitely one of those areas where any full-frame truck will tend to go above and beyond what the vast majority of truck buyers and drivers would ever actually need, but it remains an important metric, partly because there are people who need all that capability, and partly because the payload capacity stat tends to mesh with how tough the vehicle is in general. A payload of a thousand pounds would satisfy most operators of mid-sized trucks, but both the Tacoma and Colorado go far beyond that. Both of these trucks are good companions when you need to fill up the bed, but we would still put favor with the Colorado.
Interior comfort has come a long way since pickup trucks became mainstream vehicles. Car-like amenities and comfort are expected as a matter of course, and in many cases, it is cheaper to get a truly luxurious interior on a new truck than it is to achieve the same level of plushness and number of amenities in a car.
While modern pickup trucks are just as much status symbols as they are working vehicles, the needs of long-distance driving and the full-frame construction required to attain real payload and towing ability make meeting the needs of pickup truck operators challenging. Unibody vehicles are traditionally easier to engineer suspension for that both grips the road and provides a smooth ride. Thanks to enhanced materials and better suspension design, modern trucks offer a level of ride comfort that would’ve been unthinkable just twenty years ago. And that is not just true of the large full size pickup trucks, but for the more attainable and agile midsize pickups as well.
Both the Tacoma and Colorado are highly impressive in terms of what amenities and comforts they offer occupants. Available heated seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, heated steering wheels, incredibly comfortable seating with lumbar adjustment, and far more. The Colorado even has 4G LTE connectivity built-in, allowing the truck to act as a mobile hotspot.
The meat and potatoes of a truck lie under the hood. Hardy and reliable yet effortlessly torquey, engines are a requirement for any truck of any size. A raft of options helps, allowing individual buyers and owners to tailor their own truck’s abilities to exactly what they need. The needs of a pickup truck buyer are wide and vary so significantly that they often seem contradictory. Everyone wants power, but absolute dependability is non-negotiable. Similarly, torque is what allows a pickup truck to actually pick up and go, but no one wants to spend more time and money at the gas pump than is actually necessary.
This array of needs and wants winds up creating some of the best engines ever made for series-production vehicles, simply because the requirements are so high. And because the automakers know that enough trucks will sell, if they get it right, to more than cover the enormous development costs required to get these engines right.
True to what one would expect of modern trucks, both the Tacoma and Colorado both come with multiple engine options, including four-cylinders that would give some V8s from the 80s a run for their money in terms of power. While the smallest engines offered by both trucks are neck and neck with those old V8s in terms of horsepower, they blow them out of the water in terms of reliability and gas mileage. The Colorado’s 2.5-liter, for example, can get the truck up to 25 miles to the gallon on the highway. While at the same time making dramatically more power than its larger-displacement Toyota four-cylinder rival.
The best engine in the Tacoma’s two-powerplant lineup is the 3.5-liter V6, part of the already highly regarded GR line of engines. It belts out a solid 278 horsepower while at the same time delivering 265 pound-feet of torque. That said, even that wonderful engine is somewhat overshadowed by the 308 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 found in the Colorado. The Colorado also has a diesel engine option available, with 369 pound-feet of torque. The Tacoma does not have any comparable power plant.
Which Midsize Pickup Is for You?
The Tacoma is not a bad truck by any means, but when it comes to hauling, towing, and powering into and out of trouble, the Colorado simply beats it across the board. The Colorado is a more hardily-built truck, with more powerful and more torquey engines and more hauling ability across the entire range. The Colorado also offers you far more options for customizing your engine and features to fit your unique needs and budget. Either will get the job done, but the Colorado has a lot more margin for error, and that never hurts.