Toyota has put itself in an incredibly strong position. They have the truck market cornered, whether you are looking at a full size or midsize truck. Tundra vs. Tacoma. Virtually the same yet very different. Tomato - Tamahto. Pa-Tundra – Pa-Taco. They are known for toughness and long-term reliability. Both trucks lead the field in 2019 Highest Resale Value across all vehicles. Solid.
However, how do you decide what truck is best for you? It’s an easy choice, right – do you want a full size truck or a midsize truck? Not so fast. I looked at some of the most important factors to consider when deciding between a 2019 Toyota Tacoma and 2019 Toyota Tundra (and you can use these for pre-owned trucks too). Maybe your buying factors are different than mine. This should be fun! In fact, consider these Top 5 Reasons Toyota Tundra Pickup Trucks Are a Good Investment.
Round 1: “I’ve Got the Power”
The 2019 Toyota Tacoma and 2019 Tundra have engine size choices based on how you will use your truck. The main question is: what is best for you?
Tacoma offers a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 159 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. torque. The more popular 3.5-liter V6 engine gives drivers 278hp and 265 lb-ft. torque. You can choose a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission or the 6-speed manual offered in certain V6 models like TRD Sport, Off-Road and the Pro.
Refreshed 2020 Toyota Tacoma Updates by Grade Level and Subscribe to Torque News Youtube for Daily Automotive Videos
On the flip side, for those requiring a healthy boost in power, maybe 2019 Toyota Tundra is the one for you. Buyers will be able to pick between two solid V8 choices. The 4.6-liter V8 engine provides 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. torque. This is perfectly sufficient for many truck drivers. However, the “I want a truck with power” option is 5.7-liter V8, delivering 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. torque. All Tundra’s drive with a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i).
What truck wins Round 1 in your opinion?
Round 2: “Will it fit in my garage?”
We have all heard the expression telling us that size does not matter. But when shopping for your next truck it probably does. Bring your tape measure to the dealership with you next time. Use it first to measure the important dimensions of your garage. No need to take chances. Let’s see if it will fit before you buy it.
Depending on what 2019 Tacoma catches your eye, you will find these trucks range from 212.3” to 225.5” in length. That is either 17 or nearly 19 feet long. They range from 74.4 inches to 75.2 inches wide and 70.6” to 71.6” in height (on the TRD Pro).
The nice thing about Tacoma is I have not yet found an owner unable to find room in their garage for this tough beast. Well, unless it was time to clean – major spring cleaning.
Tundra, on the other hand and being the full-sized giant that it is, has exterior dimensions that might fall into what some might call the “plus” size. Big and tall store anyone?
Depending on the configuration, your 2019 Tundra is either 19 feet long (228.9”) or 20.6 feet long (247.8” Long Bed). Again, get that tape measure out – stat!
All Tundra’s are 79.9 inches wide, which is about half a foot wider than its Tacoma counterpart. As you would expect, Tundra is between 75.8” and 77.2” tall. Running boards or step bars needed?
Round 2, the garage test. Is Tundra or Tacoma the better fit for you and your family?
Round 3: Toyota Tacoma vs Toyota Tundra Towing Capacity
This category separates both 2019 Tundra and 2019 Tacoma into two totally different groups. This is where midsize and full size mean something.
Tacoma towing capacity begins at 3,500 pounds with all 4-cylinder configurations. The maximum tow ratings are anywhere from 6,400 to 6,800 pounds. More than enough to pull your trailer and boat (well, some boats).
On the flip side, Tundra tow capacity begins at 6,400 pounds and increases all the way up to 10,200 pounds (this is for those campers and those OTHER boats).
The question here really lies in how you will use it. Many truck owners buy their vehicles not needing or intending to pull large or heavy equipment and fun toys. However, for many, that is chiefly WHY they need a new truck.
Round 3: Is Tacoma or Tundra right for your towing requirement? What will you be pulling?
Round 4: Cab Size – from Access Cab to CrewMax
There are many considerations here. Will you have tall family members riding with you? Are you a shorter or taller driver? Do you need extra backseat room for baby seats, pets or just plain old leg room?
The 2019 Toyota Tacoma is available in Access Cab and Double Cab. Both cabs have 42.9” leg room for front seat passengers, and 24.6” (Access) and 32.6” (Double) rear seat leg room. Taller passengers take note: Tacoma offers 39.7” front head room, while rear seat head room is 34.9” (Access) and 38.3” (Double).
You will find 2019 Tundra offers you the choice of Double Cab or CrewMax. Spoiler alert: rear seat CrewMax leg room is huge!
Surprisingly, 2019 Tundra has the same front head room as Tacoma (39.7”) in both Double Cab and CrewMax. Rear seat head room is just below 39 inches. Also surprising is the fact that Tundra has a wee bit less (that’s a technical term right?) front leg room (42.5” vs. 42.9” in Tacoma). Rear seat leg room is 34.7” in Double Cab and a whopping 42.3” in CrewMax. I swear you could live in this thing.
Don’t sleep on the Regular Cab as well. Both Tacoma and Tundra can be found in Regular Cab configurations when you’re out searching for the ideal pre-owned gem. Do you miss the Regular Cab?
So who wins Round 4? First what truck, and then what cab size, is the one you would pick?
Round 5: 2019 Tacoma vs Tundra's Bed Length
Let’s talk bed talk (that didn’t sound weird, did it?). What will be hauling or moving and how much cargo volume is necessary?
The 2019 Toyota Tundra offers the most choices for truck enthusiasts. You can choose a 5.5 foot bed in the CrewMax and a 6.5’ or 8.1’ long bed with Double Cab. The cargo bed is deep at 22.2” and 50” wide between the wheel wells.
If your choice is a Tacoma, you will find yourself deciding between a 5 foot and 6 foot bed. The 2019 Tacoma has a bed depth of 19.1 inches and the bed is 41.5 inches wide.
What bed is appropriate for what you need? Who wins your Round 5?
Round 6: 2019 Toyota Tacoma vs Toyota Tundra M-P-G
If the best fuel efficiency is your only consideration, the easy move is to buy a new 2019 Toyota Tacoma. Gas mileage varies from a combined 18mpg (17 city / 20 highway) to combined 21mpg (20 city / 23 highway) depending on your configuration.
The 2019 Toyota Tundra averages less gas mileage, as you would expect. Fuel estimates range from a combined 14mpg (13 city / 17 highway) to combined 16mpg (15 city / 19 highway) also depending on what grade level you get and how you have it configured.
Is mpg important to you? Who wins this all-important Round 6?
2019 Toyota Tacoma vs. Tundra: Quick Bullet Points
Bonus Round: “You have a truck? Sweet! Can you help me move?”
If you have ever owned a truck, you have probably already realized this makes you instantly memorable. Meaning, people always remember you when it’s time for them to move. “Hey Ken, I know I haven’t talked with you in years, but do you still have that truck?”
Which truck, a Toyota Tundra or Tacoma, will keep you from being asked the least amount possible to help a buddy or long-lost family member to move?
Not sure we should count this a “Round Winner,” but it might be a useful tie-breaker.
I am a member of an online forum of truck enthusiasts, and this one comment gave me the idea for this article (thanks Tom!). “The Tacoma fits nicely in my garage. And, people don’t ask me to pull or haul stuff for them like when I had bigger trucks.” Well said my friend, well said.
Thanks for reading everyone! Based on this, along with your more-important personal criteria, would you choose a Tacoma or Tundra? What factors did I miss in my story? What reasons are most important for you when truck shopping?
See you next story…
READ MORE: 2019 Tacoma TRD Off-Road vs. TRD Sport
READ MORE: 2019 Tundra 1794 Edition Review
Jeff Teague is a Toyota news reporter at Torque News. You can reach Jeff on Facebook and follow his Instagram for his popular "Toyotajeff Minute" quick Toyota reviews. Follow him on Twitter at @toyotajeff1 and tweet him tips for new stories. Jeff also shares Toyota news videos on his Youtube Channel at ToyotaJeff1.