2021 Toyota Tacoma

2021 Toyota Tacoma Review: Loves To Get Dirty

In truck-loving America, it's no surprise that the Toyota Tacoma sells well. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that it's capable and fun to drive off-road. Not too small or too big, it slots nicely into the midsize segment, and doesn't feel too clunky around town. But don't be fooled, it is definitely not made for city living. The rugged trailblazer lacks the refinement of a daily driver, with a rough riding experience on tarred roads and clumsy handling. In these aspects, it can't match the much smoother Honda Ridgeline. The Toyota's base four-cylinder engine is a disappointment, too. However, if you opt for the throatier V6 and stick to the roads less traveled, you just might fall in love with the Tacoma pickup, like so many others before you.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Tacoma?

Very little is new for the Toyota Tacoma in 2021, beyond a few cosmetic customization options and a couple of special editions. The TRD Pro deletes Army Green from its paint options to make room for Lunar Rock. The Nightshade Special Edition builds on the penultimate-tier Limited, blacking out much of the exterior accents. The new Trail Special Edition gives the lower-tier SR5 a boost, with unique exterior elements and a bespoke interior, too. All V6-engined models now receive standard dual-zone climate control, while an enhanced audio system on the TRD Sport and Off-Road enables premium remote services.

Pros and Cons

  • Capable off-roader
  • Competitive towing capacity
  • Ergonomic control layout
  • Excellent payload and cargo capacities
  • Good suite of safety features
  • Not the most spacious of interiors
  • Lackluster standard powertrain
  • There are far more capable pickups available

Best Deals on Tacoma

2021 Toyota Tacoma Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.7L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
2.7L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
SR5 V6
3.5L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
TRD Sport
3.5L V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive

Tacoma Pickup Exterior

The exact appearance of the Tacoma depends on how you configure it, since you can mix and match the cab and cargo bed options. The Access Cab supplies two doors, while the Double Cab tacks on an extra pair of doors at the back. The SR and SR5 have pretty basic grilles, while the TRD Sport and Off-Road get honeycomb grilles. The Limited gets a silver horizontal bar grille, while the TRD Pro boasts the most aggressive Toyota heritage grille with the TOYOTA lettering replacing the logo found on lesser models. It also gets a TRD Pro front skid plate and a hood scoop with a special graphic. The blocky headlights are the same across the range, but they upgrade from standard halogen to LEDs on the Limited upwards, and every model aside from the base SR comes equipped with fog lights. Two special editions are made available for 2021, with the Trail Special Edition borrowing the same grille as the Limited and featuring Kevlar-wrapped 16-inch wheels; the Nightshade features blacked-out exterior accents as the name implies. The standard wheels are 16-inch items across the lineup in various styles, while the TRD Sport gets 17-inch items and the Limited and Nightshade get larger 18-inch wheels. The top-tier trims also sport a power tilt-and-slide moonroof.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Front Angle View Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Rear Angle View Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Side View Toyota
See All 2021 Toyota Tacoma Exterior Photos


As you'd expect from a pickup truck that spends much of its time playing in the mud, the Tacoma has the kind of dimensions that really make it stand out. If you pair the Access Cab with the six-foot bed, you will get a 127.4-inch wheelbase within a 212.3-inch body. The Double Cab with the five-foot bed shares these dimensions, but the Double Cab with the six-foot bed measures 225.5 inches long with a 140.6-inch wheelbase. The lower trim levels have a width of 74.4 inches, but once you upgrade to the TRD Sport, an extra 0.8 inches are added. Similarly, each model stands 70.6 inches tall, except for the TRD Pro, which is an inch taller than the rest. In its most basic of guises, the Tacoma tips the scales at 3,915 pounds, while weight increases to 4,550 lbs on the heftiest guise.

To help it handle rougher terrain, the Toyota pickup boasts a ground clearance of 9.4 inches, but specific configurations alter the approach/breakover/departure angles. This ranges from 29/20/23.1 degrees up to 35/24/23.5 degrees.

  • Length 212.3 in
  • Wheelbase 127.4 in
  • Height 70.6 in
  • Max Width 74.4 in

Exterior Colors

Although there have been some changes to the palette, the Tacoma can be dressed in one of ten colors. The base-level SR offers Super White, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, and Barcelona Red Metallic. This is expanded with Cement and Voodoo Blue on the SR5, and Army Green or the $425 Wind Chill Pearl on the TRD Sport. Most of the colors available on the TRD Off-Road require upgrading to the Technology Package for an additional $770. The Limited and TRD Pro refine their palettes to more limited choices - although the choice of interior color does affect the availability of exterior shades - but the top-tier trim does get exclusive access to Lunar Rock. The Trail Special Edition offers the choice of Army Green, Cement, Midnight Black, and Super White, while the Nightshade Special Edition Package palette comprises Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, or Wind Chill Pearl, again for $425.

  • Super White
  • Silver Sky Metallic
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Barcelona Red Metallic
  • Cement
  • Voodoo Blue
  • Army Green
  • Wind Chill Pearl

Tacoma Performance

The Tacoma is certainly not built for high performance, even with the specs set to max. The 278-horsepower V6 provides enough power to lug it around, moving it from 0 to 60 mph in around eight seconds. This is quite a bit slower than what rivals like the Ford Ranger are capable of, though. It's the torque that matters when it comes to doing heavy work, though, but the Tacoma falls behind competitors like the Ranger here, too. Again, you'll want to avoid the middling four-cylinder base engine, since it can only handle towing a mere 3,500 pounds. Properly configured and equipped with the V6, the Tacoma can haul a maximum of 6,800 lbs, as opposed to the 7,500 lbs of the Ford.

For towing purposes, the rear-wheel drivetrain is the best option, but if you plan to go off-road, the four-wheel drivetrain is a must.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Frontal Aspect Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Side Angle Driving Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Wheelspin Toyota

Engine and Transmission

Of the two engines available to the Toyota pickup, the first is rather unimpressive. Developing 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, the 2.7-liter four-pot moves the hefty Tacoma truck along, but not with any degree of haste. A six-speed automatic gearbox does duty here and both 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains are on offer. This engine is standard on the SR and SR5, while the upper trims get the V6 engine as standard. Displacing 3.5 liters, the stronger engine develops 278 hp and 265 lb-ft, and power is directed to your choice of the rear or all four wheels, though the TRD Pro has access to the four-wheel drivetrain only. The same six-speed automatic transmission is on offer here, too, but the TRD trims can also be equipped with a six-speed manual.

If you only want the Tacoma for its looks, and never intend to put it to work, the base four-cylinder is passable, but if you ever want to tow or go off-road, then pass it over instead. The V6 unlocks the true potential of the vehicle, and it works best when paired with the manual gearbox.

  • Engines
    2.7L Inline-4 Gas, 3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 6-Speed Manual
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

While the Toyota Tacoma likes to get rough and dirty off-road, it requires your constant attention when you're driving around town. You could even accuse it of getting bored or being restless with the way that it wanders off course when cruising down the highway. Even when moving at slower speeds, it doesn't handle the pavement well, with even minor road abrasions being transmitted to the cabin. There is one saving grace, at least; road noise is managed well by the rugged tires.

It only starts to really shine when you stop treating it like a car and take it off the beaten path. You'll need the 4x4 drivetrain to get the most out of the experience. Properly equipped, it feels completely at home on rougher terrain, where it never loses its footing or confidence. Feedback is brilliant, and the electronic Crawl Control system will give you a hand if you want to focus more on maneuvering rather than managing your speed.

Tacoma Truck Gas Mileage

The exact gas mileage you get will depend on how you configure your ride. If you settle for the starter four-cylinder engine, you can expect around 20/23/21 mpg city/highway/combined with the RWD and 19/22/20 mpg with the 4WD. The V6 is not only more powerful, but returns the same consumption figures in mixed driving conditions of 19/24/21 mpg with RWD and 18/22/20 mpg with 4WD. However, those numbers apply to the V6 with the automatic gearbox. The least efficient setup uses the manual gearbox, which can only be paired with the V6 engine and four-wheel drivetrain. In this guise, the EPA estimates fuel economy at 17/21/18 miles per gallon, with the Double Cab TRD Pro losing another mile per gallon on the highway. But, since it comes outfitted with a 21.1-gallon fuel tank, the Tacoma can still traverse about 443 miles between pit stops in its most efficient configuration.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.1 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/23 mpg
* 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR Access Cab 6' Bed I4 AT

Tacoma Interior

Few people buy a pickup truck for its luxurious cabin, and if you are one of those select few, then the Tacoma is not the right choice for you. Styling is plain and the materials used are hardy but not high-class. Leather is available at the upper trim levels, but it is for the seats only, leaving the plastic dash and door panels to fend for themselves. An electrically adjustable driver's seat on most models makes it easy to find a good driving position, and the controls for the features are laid out for ease of access. There aren't that many to worry about, though, although the infotainment suite has all the essentials.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Interior Overview Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma First Row Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Front Seats Toyota
See All 2021 Toyota Tacoma Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Though it may come outfitted with seating appointments for five, the Tacoma is not an ideal family hauler. Legroom is especially tight in the back, with as little as 24.6 inches in the Access Cab. This is improved when you choose the Double Cab since it offers 32.6 inches of legroom, although it still doesn't qualify as spacious. Headroom follows the same pattern, but it's actually quite good in the back of the Double Cab. Regardless, those up front are definitely the most comfortable, with space to spare, and a ten-way power driver's seat on most versions makes it much easier to find a comfortable position, although taller individuals will still struggle a bit. On the plus side, the seats are comfortable, which helps to offset some of the discomfort of driving on tarred roads.

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 42.9 in
  • Front Head Room 39.7 in
  • Rear Leg Room 24.6 in
  • Rear Head Room 34.9 in

Interior Colors and Materials

If you want anything better than cloth upholstery, you'll have to upgrade to at least the Limited trim. Before that, you can choose Cement Gray or Black cloth with Red accent stitching. In the Trail Special Edition, the standard black fabric gets unique tan contrast stitching. The TRD Sport and Off-Road each get Cement/Black combination fabric, while the latter can be specified with Black Leather if you are willing to cough up an extra $3,815 for the Premium Package. Once you reach the Limited level, Hickory leather becomes standard, with Black available if you pair it with Silver Sky Metallic body paint. The top-of-the-line TRD Pro gets the highest quality Black leather with Red accent stitching. As for the rest of the cabin, hard plastic is present throughout, showing the rugged durability of the Tacoma. True to this philosophy, construction is solid.

Tacoma Trunk and Cargo Space

How much cargo space you have all depends on the bed length you choose when configuring your truck. Measurements for the five-foot bed are 60.5 inches lengthwise, 41.5 inches in width, and 19.1 inches high. The longer six-foot bed adds an extra 13.2 inches of length. In either setup, you get access to loads of space, but exactly how much you can carry will depend on the specific payload capacity of the configuration you select. Here, you have to trade power and capability for GVWR, as some 4x4 Double Cab options only allow for a payload of up to 1,095 lbs, while the 4x2 Access Cab increases this to 1,685 lbs.

Around the cabin, there are not a lot of storage options. A few bins around the center console and some narrow door pockets can hold the smallest of items. But, if you want to stow anything larger, your only option is the glove compartment or the center armrest cubby.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Maximum Cargo Space Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Cargo Room Toyota
2021 Toyota Tacoma Rear View Toyota

Tacoma Infotainment and Features


The Tacoma is no luxury cruiser, but you get all the basics, even on the entry-level SR. These include air conditioning and power accessories, as well as a small 4.2-inch driver information display. The tilt/telescopic steering column is manually adjustable, though. A rearview camera complements the Toyota Safety Sense P suite, which comprises pre-collision avoidance, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, and dynamic radar cruise control. Keyless entry is added on the SR5, while the TRD Sport expands the offering with keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a ten-way power driver's seat, and a 120-volt power outlet. Worth noting is that these features apply to the trims in their cheapest form; for instance, with the V6 engine and the Double Cab upgrades, an SR5 is far better equipped. The Limited and TRD Pro are the most extensively outfitted, with leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power moonroof, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and rear sonar. The Limited adds a panoramic view monitor and the TRD Pro adds a multi-terrain monitor.


The infotainment suite starts off with a seven-inch touchscreen on the SR, programmed with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Amazon Alexa. This is paired with a six-speaker sound system with access to SiriusXM. Upgrading to the SR5 only increases the size of the screen to eight inches, while the Limited adds navigation, and upgrades the sound system to a six-speaker JBL unit. From the TRD Sport upwards, a wireless charging pad is standard. The TRD Pro offers all the same features but sticks with the standard audio setup, unless you opt for the automatic version, in which case the JBL sound system is included. Despite coming equipped with loads of modern features, the suite feels as old as the Tacoma, with slow responses and clumsy menus.

Tacoma Problems and Reliability

Reliability reviews from J.D. Power for the 2021 model year yielded a rating of 78 out of 100. Although this may seem average for other segments, it's quite good for midsize pickup trucks. No recalls have been issued at the time of writing, but it was recalled for a potential fuel pump failure in 2020. The warranty plan offered by Toyota won't astound, but it is adequate. Bumper-to-bumper maintenance is covered for three years/36,000 miles, while the powertrain warranty is valid for five years/60,000 miles. A corrosion perforation warranty runs for five years.


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

Tacoma Safety

Each safety review of the Toyota Tacoma returned quite good results, and it has a solid reputation, as shown by the 2019 Top Safety Pick from the IIHS. So far, the organization has not yet evaluated the latest model, though the 2020 iteration received Good in every category save for the small overlap front: passenger-side test, which received an Acceptable score. The NHTSA gives it an overall rating of four out of five stars for 2021, which is broken down into five stars for the side crash tests and four for the front and rollover tests.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Even the most basic of Tacomas come outfitted with a full Toyota Safety Sense P suite of features. Under this umbrella, you'll find collision avoidance, pedestrian detection, dynamic cruise control, and lane departure warning. Other standard safety features include stability and traction control, ABS, hill-start assist, EBD, and a set of eight airbags, covering the front passengers, their knees and sides, and the side curtain for both rows of seats. The Limited and TRD Pro get a little more tech in the form of rear parking sonar, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring. A panoramic-view monitor is standard on the Limited.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Toyota Tacoma a good Truck?

The Tacoma has been with us for quite some time now and it has amassed a following of die-hard fans. There's a very good reason for this, too. Despite its age, it is a rugged and capable pickup with competitive towing capacities and genuine off-roading ability. However, it is far from perfect. While Toyota has done its best to keep the truck up to date in terms of tech, with a decent infotainment suite and dependable safety features, it hasn't fundamentally changed the Tacoma. Thus, it suffers from a cramped cabin and it feels abysmal on city roads. So long as you plan to stick to playing in the mud or hauling heavy loads around, it's a great choice, but if you want to do anything else, look elsewhere.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Toyota Tacoma?

With Eight trim levels to choose from and a variety of configurations within each, the price of the Toyota Tacoma changes depending on your needs. The entry-level SR starts things off at $26,150, with the SR5 increasing this to $27,940. The Trail Special Edition is quite a bit pricier at $34,005, while the TRD Sports comes in a little cheaper at $33,060. The TRD Off-Road is a bit more rugged and will cost you $34,315. Moving more towards the luxury side of things, the price jumps to $38,905 for the Limited, with an extra $1,000 if you want the Nightshade Special Edition. The most expensive model is the TRD Pro, which has a base price of $44,075. This trim gets 4-wheel-drive as standard, while adding it to any of the others costs extra; for example the 4x4 Limited ups the price to $41,980. Similarly, upgrading to the V6 engine increases the price of the SR and SR5 to $28,410 and $31,085, respectively. There are no packages available at the top level, but if you option on the few available accessories, the total cost of the Toyota Tacoma maxes out at around $50k. These are MSRP prices and do not include tax, registration, licensing, or Toyota's $1,095 destination charge.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Models

With the addition of two special editions, the number of Toyota Tacoma models now adds up to eight: SR, SR5, Trail Special Edition, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, Nightshade Special Edition, and TRD Pro. The first two trims come standard with the 2.7-liter four-pot, though the 3.5-liter V6 is available. This stronger motor is standard on the rest of the range. Only the TRD Pro is 4x4 as standard, while this can be opted on to all the rear-wheel-drive trims. Both the Access and Double cabs are available to all but the top two trims, which are restricted to the Double Cab.

Standard equipment on the entry-level SR includes 16-inch steel wheels and projector beam headlights. The interior is upholstered in cloth, and also gets air conditioning and power accessories. Tech features comprise a 4.2-inch driver-information display, a seven-inch touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, SiriusXM, and Alexa Amazon, paired with a six-speaker sound system. Toyota Safety Sense P, along with the Star Safety System, keeps all the passengers safe.

Stepping up to the SR5 adds fog lights and gives the grille a chrome surround. Inside, the infotainment screen grows by one inch, the steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and keyless entry is added. The Trail Special Edition builds on this with mostly cosmetic changes. It blacks out the exterior badging and replaces the SR5 grille with the more flamboyant one found on the Limited. It also gets Dark Gray TRD Off-Road wheels and Kevlar all-terrain tires. A 120-volt power outlet is added to the cargo bed, along with lockable bed storage.

The first of the TRD trims, the Sport gets 17-inch alloy wheels and upgrades the daytime running lights and fog lights to LED clusters. Keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview, and a 120-volt deck-mounted outlet become standard at this level, along with a ten-way power driver's seat, and a wireless charging pad.

The TRD Off-Road makes mostly mechanical changes, by adding Bilstein shocks and an off-road traction system. It also gets a lockable rear differential.

The penultimate Limited tries to be the luxury city pickup with 18-inch wheels and leather upholstery. The front seats gain heating and a power moonroof is installed. Safety gets a big boost with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sonar, and a panoramic-view camera, while the infotainment is spruced up with a six-speaker JBL sound system.

Building on the Limited, the Nightshade Special Edition gives the pickup a more ominous appearance, blacking out the exterior. This starts with the 18-inch dark smoke wheels but it doesn't stop there. The wheel locks and lug nuggets are black, too, along with the exhaust tip, mirror caps, fog light bezels, door handles, and badging. It also gets a bespoke carbon-style black grille.

The most capable model in the range, the TRD Pro looks bolder with a Toyota heritage grille and a bespoke front skid plate and exhaust. The entire interior gets similar bespoke styling with TRD Pro floor mats and leather upholstery. Rigid Industries LED fog lights help it stand out, while Fox internal bypass shocks make it even more capable off-road. A multi-terrain monitor also helps in this regard.

See All 2021 Toyota Tacoma Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

If picking between eight trim levels isn't enough for you, then there are several ways to further customize your Tacoma. Most trims offer a choice of several packages and a host of smaller stand-alone accessories.

Starting with the base-model SR in Access Cab guise, the SX Package ($840) adds black 16-inch alloys, overfenders, mirrors caps, door handles, and headlight bezels. The Utility Package will lower your bill by $1,715 since it deletes the rear speakers and seats to make space for additional cargo such as tools. However, it is limited to the Access Cab. The TRD Sport gets access to a lot more comprehensive upgrades, such as the Technology Package ($1,935), which adds LED headlights, daytime running lights, and fog lights, as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. One step below the Limited, the TRD Off-Road can add some of the more premium features with the Premium Off-Road Package ($5,720), which comprises the Technology Package, LED exterior lighting, leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, a moonroof, and a JBL sound system.

🚗What Toyota Tacoma Model Should I Buy?

You certainly aren't lacking in options in this area. Those with the budget for it won't regret going for the TRD Pro, but it certainly isn't necessary to get the job done. If you want all the capability without the cumbersome price tag, though, the TRD Off-Road is the route to go. It can play in the mud with the best of them. You don't even need to tack on any packages either, since these are just luxury items that the Tacoma can do without. But if you do plan to use it as a daily driver, the leather seats and upgraded infotainment suite might be desirable.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Comparisons

Ford Ranger Ford
Chevrolet Colorado
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Toyota Tacoma159 hp20/23 mpg$26,400
Ford Ranger 270 hp19/18 mpg$24,820
Chevrolet Colorado 200 hp19/25 mpg$25,200

2021 Toyota Tacoma vs Ford Ranger

It is hard to compete with the most beloved pickup truck brand in the US, but the Tacoma tries its best. However, the fact that it is more expensive at every step is not a good start. The turbocharged four-cylinder on the Ranger is far more capable in comparison to anything the Toyota has, offering faster acceleration times and a higher towing capacity of 7,500 lbs. So, if you plan on using your pickup to do heavy work, the choice is clear. But, if you want to go off-road, things take a turn in the other direction. In this area, the Tacoma is far superior to the Ford. In fact, a quick test drive proves that it is even more pleasant to drive on paved roads, which is saying something. In terms of tech and safety features, the two competitors are pretty much on par. Since there are definitely hardier workers out there, like the F-150 from Ford, there really is no reason to choose the Ranger over the Tacoma for this.

See Ford Ranger Review

2021 Toyota Tacoma vs Chevrolet Colorado

If you think the Tacoma offers a lot of configuration options, just wait until you see the competition. Whether you spend the bulk of your time around town or are more of an adventurer at heart, you can build the Chevy Colorado to suit your needs. It is also quite a bit more powerful than the Toyota, thanks to its 308-hp V6, while the diesel powertrain supplies 369 lb-ft of torque that allows it to tow up to 7,700 lbs. Unfortunately, Chevrolet hasn't done a great job of keeping the Colorado up to date tech-wise. But, with decent off-roading ability, more workhorse potential, and a better riding experience around town, it is still a lot more balanced and pleasant than the Tacoma. It is a little cheaper, too, with a starting price of $25,200

See Chevrolet Colorado Review

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