The small truck market has exploded in recent years, as many people who like the ruggedness and versatility of a pickup but prefer to drive smaller vehicles have begun buying these trucks. As a result, many manufacturers, including Chevrolet and Toyota, have increased their overall production of small trucks, as well as developed different trim levels and models to meet the demands of the growing consumer base. Also, driving this growth in the marketplace has been the expanding love of off-roading by vehicle enthusiasts across the country. Both Chevrolet and Toyota have broken into this market in a big way, with Chevy offering the Z71 and ZR2 versions of their Colorado truck designed for off-roading and Toyota creating the TRD version of the Tacoma light truck for this sport usage as well. Aside from naming their small trucks after popular places in the United States, Chevy with the Colorado and Toyota with the Tacoma have targeted consumers looking for comfort, drivability, versatility, dependability, and value in their trucks. In the following, we will compare the 2020 Chevy Colorado vs 2020 Toyota Tacoma, and show which truck drives off with top honors in the area of small trucks.
Configuration, Trim Levels, and Pricing
Both the 2020 Chevy Colorado and 2020 Toyota Tacoma come in multiple trim levels and configurations. The base model for each, the Colorado Base and the Tacoma SR, are 4X2 standard, with the option of upgrading to 4X4 for an additional price. The 2020 Chevy Colorado has five different trim levels, starting with the Colorado Base at a base MSRP of $21,300. This is significantly less than the entry-level Toyota Tacoma SR, which starts at an MSRP of $26,050.
There is one thing working in Toyota’s favor here. Toyota offers one more trim level than the Chevy Colorado, fully six trim levels in all. After the SR is the SR5 with a base MSRP of $27,825, the TRD Sport with an MSRP of $32,745, the TRD Off-Road with an MSRP of $34,000, the Limited with an MSRP of $38,790, and the TRD Pro with an MSRP of $43,960. While it is good to have the option of an extra trim level, the reality is that three of the Tacoma trim levels are for off-road vehicles (TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro), while two of the Colorado trim levels are for off-road trucks (Z71 and ZR2).
Chevy buyers can choose from a Crew Cab with a short payload box, an Extended Cab with a long box, or an Extended Cab with a short box. Toyota buyers have to choose between a Double Cab (Toyota’s term for a four-door Crew Cab) with a short bed or long bed. Or, drivers can choose an Access Cab (Toyota’s version of a two-door Extended Cab) with a long bed. This extra configuration, coupled with the pricing advantage makes the Chevy Colorado the top pick in this criteria.
Advantage: 2020 Chevy Colorado
Engines and Performance
A big reason for buying any vehicle is the comfort in knowing that the drivetrain will be able to perform the tasks you need it to. Both the 2020 Chevy Colorado and 2020 Toyota Tacoma feature solid engines up to the tasks required of a small truck. But one of the two has a slight advantage, particularly in the area of strength and efficiency.
Chevrolet offers three engine options for the 2020 Colorado. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine. This has a standard 6-speed automatic transmission that can produce up to 200 horsepower and 191 pounds to feet of torque. The EPA estimates that drivers of the Colorado with this engine will get 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 26 miles per gallon on the highway.
Chevy also offers two other engine options. The first is a 3.6-liter DOHC V6 engine that has an 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces up to 308 horsepower and 275 pounds to feet of torque. The fuel economy on this engine has been estimated at 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
The final engine is a Duramax 2.8-liter Turbo-Diesel with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This has been rated to produce 181 horsepower and a very powerful 369 pounds to feet of torque. It also offers a best-in-class fuel efficiency of 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 30 miles per gallon in highway driving.
In contrast, Toyota only offers two engines for the 2020 Tacoma, and neither is as powerful or as fuel-efficient as those offered in the Colorado. In addition, the Tacoma has a 6-speed transmission standard, so there is no 8-speed transmission option with this small truck.
The standard engine is a 2.7-liter DOHC 16-Valve 4-cylinder engine with VVT-i (for “variable valve timing with intelligence’). This has been rated to produce up to 159 horsepower and 180 pounds to feet of torque, both of which are less than the comparable 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine on the Colorado. The EPA estimates that this engine will produce 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 miles per gallon on the highway, which is slightly less fuel economy than the Colorado’s 4-cylinder engine.
The differences continue with the larger engine option. The 3.5-liter V6 DOHC 24-Valve Direct-Injection Atkinson-cycle gas engine with VVT-iW (for “variable valve timing with intelligence wide”) can produce up to 278 horsepower and 265 pounds to feet of torque. This is less horsepower and torque than the 3.6-liter V6 on the Colorado, and substantially less torque than the Colorado’s Turbo-Diesel option. In addition, the fuel efficiency estimates on the Tacoma’s 6-cylinder gas engine are 18 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway, less than the two optional engines on the Colorado.
Advantage: 2020 Chevy Colorado
If you are like me, then one of the main reasons you are buying a truck is to be able to haul stuff. Whether it is a trailer for travel or a payload full of materials you just picked up at the hardware store, you have to know that your truck is going to provide you with the ability to carry your things. This goes even for small trucks like the Colorado and Tacoma. Those payload beds and trailer hitches are there for a reason, and folks like us intend to use them!
In this comparison, one of the trucks clearly outperforms the other. With respect to trailering, the 2020 Chevy Colorado has been rated to be able to tow up to 7,700 pounds when equipped with the Turbo-Diesel engine. Drivers who opt for the V6 engine can tow up to 7,000 pounds, while the standard 4-cylinder engine has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. This is a marked contrast to the 2020 Toyota Tacoma, which has a maximum towing rating of 6,800 pounds when equipped with the V6 engine and special equipment. The standard Tacoma with a V6 can only tow up to 6,400 pounds. The only area where the two vehicles are fairly even in this regard is with the base model truck with a 4-cylinder engine, each of which has been rated to tow up to a maximum 3,500 pounds.