In sports, rival teams are always looking to sign or trade for better players to stay one step ahead of the competition. We see the same thing in entertainment, where rival artists come out with new music to upstage another performer. Rarely does it happen that two automakers with competitive vehicles come out with a new generation of models during the same year—but this is exactly what has happened in the midsize truck segment with the 2024 Toyota Tacoma and 2024 Ford Ranger.
These are two of the most popular midsize models and come from two of the biggest automakers in the world. The 2024 Tacoma is Toyota’s fourth generation of this truck; the original Tacoma was introduced in 1995 to capture the imagination of drivers looking for a smaller, more maneuverable, and affordable model. Similarly, Ford introduced the Ranger in 1983; however, it discontinued the model after 2012, waiting until 2019 to bring the Ranger back. When it did, it was nothing like what had come before. As Luke Skywalker might have said, “No truck’s ever really gone.” The 2024 Ranger is the second generation of the reintroduced model, as well as the fifth generation overall, and it represents the first major upgrade of this truck in five years.
“The i-FORCE Is Strong With This One.”
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma features four different variations of the same engine, the 2.4L i-FORCE Turbo I-4. This four-cylinder engine comes with a turbocharger to boost performance, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission. The one on the base SR model delivers 228 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. However, drivers have the option of getting a little more i-FORCE in the SR with a boosted version that provides 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine features a six-speed manual transmission—the only deviation in transmissions for the 2024 Tacoma.
The SR5, Limited, TRD Off-Road, TRD Sport, and all-new TRD PreRunner have the same upgraded engine as the available one on the SR. However, this is paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering an impressive 278 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. However, if you are looking to get the most i-FORCE out of your 2024 Tacoma, you can choose the TRD Pro or Trailhunter models. These come equipped with the 2.4L i-FORCE Turbo I-4 paired with an AC electric motor. Called the i-FORCE MAX, this hybrid delivers an impressive 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. This is easily the most powerful powertrain ever placed on a Tacoma. In addition, if you choose the Limited, TRD Sport, and TRD Off-Road, you can get one with this engine as well.
Let’s take a look at the Ranger for comparison’s sake. Where the 2024 Tacoma gives you options, Ford has limited the Ranger regarding engines. For example, three of the four trims—the XL, XLT, and Lariat—all come with the same engine: a 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo I-4 with a ten-speed automatic transmission. This is a carryover from the previous generation. While this delivers a respectable 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, it only overpowers output on the Tacoma SR base trim while matching the SR’s performance if you opt for the upgraded engine. Meanwhile, it can’t compete with the output of any of the Tacoma’s other trims.
Moreover, Ford limits you to one additional engine option, which is only available on the XLT and Lariat trims; this is a 2.7L EcoBoost Turbo V6. While it does produce 315 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, this is significantly less than the output of the i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine available on all but three trims of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma. If you want to get exceptional performance on your 2024 Ranger, you have to opt for the very pricey Ranger Raptor with its 3.0L EcoBoost Turbo V6. In the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”
“I Find Your Lack Of Options… Disturbing.”
Aside from the engine options, the 2024 Toyota Tacoma provides you with more choices than you’ll find on the Ford Ranger; this is not unlike the Rebel fleet with its myriad versions and styles of spacecraft. As a result, you are better able to design a Tacoma to fit your needs than you are with a Ranger.
The Tacoma comes with two different cab designs. The Xtra Cab has two full-size doors and two smaller “pocket” doors; this provides a second row of seats while reducing cabin weight, so you get a little more towing and hauling capability. Others in the truck industry often refer to this style as an Extended Cab. You can also choose a Double Cab, which has four full-size doors and a roomier back seat; if you need more legroom, then the Tacoma with a Double Cab is right for you.
Meanwhile, the 2024 Ranger only comes with a SuperCrew, which is similar in design to Toyota’s Double Cab. This limits your options, as there are some drivers who plan to commute in their midsize pickup or use it for light-duty work. If these drivers opt for the 2024 Ford Ranger, they will be stuck paying for a Crew Cab style with a large back seat that they will hardly ever use. In addition, this standardization means they will lose some of the towing and hauling capability they would have had with a smaller and lighter cab.
Toyota also offers two different payload bed sizes on the 2024 Tacoma, as you can choose between a five-foot and a six-foot bed. Ford only gives you a standard five-foot bed on the 2024 Ranger; this reduces your ability to carry cargo, as that extra foot of length can be the critical difference between carting your load and having to borrow somebody ELSE’s truck.
Finally, you can choose from eight different trims on the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, ranging from the base SR and SR5 to the TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, Trailhunter, and TRD Pro. Each of the four TRD trims was designed in conjunction with Toyota Racing Development, the group of engineers who build Toyota’s racing vehicles; these have specialized features, such as the steel bumper and specialized off-road suspension found on the TRD Pro. In addition, three trims—the TRD Pro, TRD Off-Road, and Trailhunter—are purpose-built for off-roading, so you can drive any of these three Tacomas right off the lot and onto a trail.
In contrast, you only get to choose between four trims of the 2024 Ford Ranger. The base is the XL, with the XLT and Lariat providing greater comfort, convenience, and performance features. The top trim is the all-new Ranger Raptor, and this is the only one that gives you exceptional performance and off-road capabilities right out of the gate. Just like the other key items, you get more options with the 2024 Toyota Tacoma than you will with the 2024 Ford Ranger.
“No, Truck—I Am Your Father!”
It’s never easy choosing a truck. You need to balance your different needs, looking at the performance and capabilities of every option. You also need to consider the different configurations, trims, and features offered by each automaker; this is especially true among midsize trucks.
The 2024 Toyota Tacoma offers more trims, engines, bed sizes, and cab styles than the 2024 Ford Ranger. Furthermore, you’ll be able to choose a midsize truck that is off-road capable at a lower price point than you would with a Ford, and you can upgrade to higher performance on more trims with the Tacoma than you can on the Ranger; this allows you to get a more balanced midsize truck with the 2024 Tacoma.