|7,700||Max Towing (lbs)||6,800|
The field of midsize pickups is starting to get awfully crowded now that so many drivers have become aware of the benefits of these great little trucks. So how do you separate the best values from the pack? One way is by comparing two of the more popular models, the 2021 Chevy Colorado vs 2021 Toyota Tacoma. This will help you narrow down your options.
Right off the bat, we see a number of similarities. Both of these trucks feature their automaker’s infotainment system, with every model of the 2021 Chevy Colorado equipped with a Chevy Infotainment 3 system on a 7 or 8-inch color touchscreen and each 2021 Toyota Tacoma also featuring an infotainment system on either a 7 or 8-inch touchscreen. This will keep you connected with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth for smart devices, and an AM/FM stereo system. Both of these trucks also have plenty of active safety features for you and your passengers. So, the difference between them is found in other factors, including pricing and options, performance, and interior space.
Both the 2021 Chevy Colorado and 2021 Toyota Tacoma come in a number of different trims as well as two different cab configurations. The Colorado is offered with either an Extended Cab or Crew Cab. The Extended Cab has two rows of seats for up to 4 passengers, two full-size doors, and two half doors. The Crew Cab has a larger rear seat than the Extended Cab, room for up to 5 passengers, and four full-size doors. The Toyota Tacoma comes with either an Access Cab, which is like the Chevy Extended Cab, or a Double Cab, which is like the Crew Cab.
The Colorado has a base MSRP of $25,200,* making it more affordable than the Tacoma, which has a base MSRP of $26,400. However, the Colorado comes in four different trims and one special edition, while the Tacoma is offered with six trims, as well as two special editions. All trim levels of the 2021 Colorado are offered with either an Extended Cab or a Crew Cab. This is not the case with the 2021 Toyota Tacoma, where the Access Cab is not available on the Limited and TRD Pro trims.
The base model of the 2021 Colorado is the WT, which stands for “work truck.” The Colorado LT trim adds an 8-inch touchscreen to the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system, an EZ Lift & Lower tailgate to make loading easier, and a 6-way power-adjustable driver seat for added comfort. The Colorado also has two trims that are designed for off-road capability. The Colorado Z71 has an automatic locking rear differential, an off-road suspension system, 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, and an HD rear vision camera. The top trim is the ZR2 with increased ground clearance and a Multimatic DSSV damping system that provides greater comfort to you and your passengers when you are off-roading.
There is also a special addition ZR2 Bison available with a number of extra features designed in collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles. This includes five hot-stamped boron steel skid plates, front winch provisions and rear recovery points, and wheel flares with 17-inch wheels. The Colorado ZR2 Bison is designed to be the ultimate in off-road midsize pickup trucks.
The 2021 Tacoma’s base model is the SR, which includes projector-beam headlights and a deck rail system. The SR5 trim adds a 4-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and integrated fog lights. The TRD Sport rides on 17-inch machined alloy wheels with a Smart Key system for added security. The TRD Off-Road adds a locking rear differential and a Multi-Terrain Select with Crawl Control for better trail performance.
The Tacoma Limited rides on 18-inch polished alloy wheels and includes a premium JBL audio system with built-in navigation. The Tacoma TRD Pro has a unique front grille and a front skid plate for added protection when off-roading. The TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro are both dedicated off-road platforms. Toyota also offers the 2021 Tacoma with two special editions, the Trail Edition and the Nightshade Edition, that add special cosmetic features to the interior and exterior appearance.
The 2021 Chevy Colorado offers drivers three different engine options, while the 2021 Toyota Tacoma only has two. In addition, the two comparable engines are more powerful on the Colorado than on the Tacoma.
The base engine on the 2021 Colorado is a 2.5-liter I-4 gas engine that utilizes direct fuel injection and variable valve timing to produce 200 horsepower and generate up to 191 pound-feet of torque. There is also a 3.6-liter V6 gas engine that also features direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. This engine produces 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Finally, Chevy offers the 2021 Colorado with an optional 2.8-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel I-4 engine. This uses direct injection to produce 181 horsepower and an astounding 369 pound-feet of torque.
The 2021 Tacoma also offers a four-cylinder gas engine as its base model. Although it is larger, the 2.7-liter I-4 on the Tacoma only produces 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Similarly, the optional V6 gas engine on the Tacoma is less powerful than the one on the Colorado. This 3.5-liter V6 can produce 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Toyota does not offer a diesel engine option on the 2021 Toyota Tacoma.
The 2021 Chevy Colorado with the I-4 gas engine and the Turbo-Diesel comes paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This is the same as the 2021 Toyota Tacoma, although there is an optional 6-speed manual transmission available on the Tacoma with the V6 engine. The Colorado with the V6 engine comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission, providing greater control and improved engine efficiency than any of the other models.
If your main concern is fuel economy, then the 2021 Chevy Colorado with the available Turbo-Diesel and rear-wheel drive is your best choice. This truck will give you 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 30 miles per gallon on the highway. If you get this model with four-wheel drive, the numbers drop slightly to 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. None of the other models of the Colorado or the 2021 Toyota Tacoma come close to matching this.
The Colorado with the I-4 gas engine provides better highway mileage than the Tacoma's, a full 25 miles per gallon highway compared to 23 miles per gallon highway. The same difference is seen with the Colorado with the available V6 engine, which will give you 25 miles per gallon in highway driving compared to 24 miles per gallon with the Tacoma V6. The Toyota Tacoma with the V6 engine paired with the optional 6-speed manual transmission actually provides the lowest numbers, just 17 miles per gallon in city driving and 20 miles per gallon on the highway.
Both the 2021 Colorado and 2021 Tacoma handle well. They both have similar wheelbases, with the Colorado’s 128.3-inches and the Tacoma’s a slightly tighter 127.4-inches. As a result, the cornering of the two trucks is comparable, as is the difficulty of parallel parking. When it comes to traction, opting for either truck with four-wheel drive will give you better road grip, particularly in inclement weather, than going for a rear-wheel drivetrain.
The Colorado provides better overall acceleration than the Tacoma because of the greater horsepower and torque provided by their engines. For example, the Colorado with the V6 gas engine can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.0 seconds. The Tacoma with a V6 engine is no match, needing a full 7.7 seconds to get up to 60 miles per hour from a stop.
The 2021 Chevy Colorado outperforms the 2021 Toyota Tacoma when it comes to towing trailers. While both trucks with the I-4 gas engine have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, the Colorado with a V6 gas engine can tow up to 7,000 pounds, while the Tacoma with the V6 engine tops out at 6,800 pounds of towing capacity. If you need to tow heavier trailers, then you should consider the Colorado with the available Turbo-Diesel, which can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
The 2021 Chevy Colorado and the 2021 Toyota Tacoma come in a choice of two cab designs. The Colorado with the Extended Cab and the Tacoma with the Access Cab can seat up to 4 passengers, while the larger Crew Cab on the Chevy and Double Cab on the Toyota has room for up to 5 passengers.
Regardless of which cab design you choose, you will get more passenger space in the Chevy Colorado than in a Toyota Tacoma. For example, you will get more headroom and legroom in the front row of the Colorado than in the Tacoma. The Colorado has 41.4 inches of headroom and 45 inches of legroom in the front row, while the Tacoma only has 39.7 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom. If you go with a Colorado Crew Cab, you will get 35.8 inches of legroom in the back seat as compared to 32.6 inches of legroom in the Colorado with the Double Cab. That is a full 3-inches of extra legroom for your backseat passengers.
Things get even more cramped in the backseat of the Tacoma if you buy one with an Access Cab. While the Colorado with an Extended Cab will give you a roomy 36.7 inches of headroom and 28.6 inches of legroom, you will only get 34.9 inches of headroom and 24.6 inches of legroom in the Tacoma with an Access Cab. That is almost 2-inches of extra headroom and over 4-inches of extra legroom in the Colorado. Toyota may call it an Access Cab, but to your passengers, access to the backseat may not be so easy with the 2021 Tacoma.