Toyota Tacoma Vs. Chevrolet Colorado: Midsize Pickup Brawl

Comparison / 4 Comments

Let the battle for midsize supremacy begin.

The current-generation Toyota Tacoma has been around since 2015 and received a substantial facelift in 2020. It stands to reason that any new competitor would immediately surpass the aging Taco, which is due to be replaced next year.

That has not been the case, however. Toyota's smallest truck remains the top seller in its segment. Last year Toyota sold 252,490 units, roughly three times as much as the more advanced outgoing Chevrolet Colorado.

There's a good reason for this. Toyota arrived in the USA in 1957 and quickly established itself as robust and reliable. These days it has roughly 1,500 dealers scattered across the States.

The Tacoma sticks to the ethos of if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Chevrolet, in contrast, is hitting back with an all-new handsome Colorado with a high-tech interior and a modern 2.7-liter turbocharged four-pot with two power outputs.

So which midsize truck should you go for?

CarBuzz

Exterior Design: Chevy Making A Statement

There's only so much you can do with a pickup truck, right?

Well, if you're Toyota, you give it some lights, and you stick a large grille with the famous Toyota badge to the front, flanked by basic headlights and a set of fog lights. The same goes for the rear, where the Tacoma has simple yet rugged-looking taillights. The Tacoma nomenclature is subtly stamped into the tailgate. You know this car and what it's about-no need for shouty design here.

The new Colorado is a different kind of animal. The rear is also relatively straightforward, but the "Chevrolet" lettering stamped into the sheet metal is more prominent. It wants you to know what it is. At the front, Chevrolet has incorporated its new design language. The grille is more subtle, but slim headlights and faux air intakes flank it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Chevrolet looks like a 2022 product. You can tell the Tacoma is due for a refresh.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
Chevrolet
Chevrolet
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Interior: Chevy Sets A New Standard

The new Colorado's interior is a giant leap forward for Chevrolet. Highlights include a new 11.3-inch high-definition diagonal display with Google Built-In. It's the same user interface used in the Hummer EV, albeit a bit smarter. The new operating system has more functionality, especially on the voice recognition side. Next to it, you'll find the eight-inch digital instrument cluster.

The dashboard layout is logical, and the climate control has been kept separate from the touchscreen interface. That will consistently score you bonus points here at CarBuzz.

At first glance, the quality of the interior plastics, seats, and major touchpoints have also been improved.

Gearbox Controls Chevrolet
Infotainment System Chevrolet
Chevrolet

The Tacoma interior isn't bad. It's typical Toyota, and we meant that in the best possible way. The materials and display might not be the best in the business, but they'll be working until long after the apocalypse.

Toyota's dashboard is basic but logical. The eight-inch touchscreen has all the obligatory connectivity features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. It's not the most sophisticated system, but it does the job.

Once again, we enjoy an honest product. Toyota knows its customers well and that decent build quality is more critical than shock and awe features.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Power & Performance: Small Vs. Big

The Tacoma is available with two tried and trusted engines, both mated to an old-school six-speed automatic transmission. However, you can get the V6 engine with a manual gearbox in the top-tier TRD Sport trim.

The base 2.7-liter naturally-aspirated four-pot is a tragedy, so we'll gloss over it.

Toyota's 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 is much better, producing 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Straight line performance and top speed are irrelevant in this segment, with tow and load rating being far more critical. The V6 Tacoma can tow 6,800 pounds, and you can load 1,155 lbs in the bed.

It is a thirsty engine, however. In RWD guise, it consumes 19/24/21 mpg city/highway/combined. The part-time 4WD model drinks 18/22/20 mpg.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright

There is only one engine available for the new Colorado. It's a 2.7-liter four-cylinder but with a turbocharged bolted on top. It's available in three power outputs. The low-output engine produces 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque, while the mid-level engine produces 310 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. The high-output model also produces 310 hp, but torque is pushed up to 430 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic is standard on all engines.

The mid and high-output motors can tow up to 7,700 lbs, beating the Toyota by 900 lbs.

It's too early for official EPA fuel consumption ratings, but the figures are bound to be better than the outgoing V6. The low-down torque provided by a turbo engine, plus the additional ratios from the eight-speed 'box, should improve fuel consumption significantly.

Chevrolet

Off-Road: Entirely Different Approaches

The new Colorado ZR2 is the best off-roader out of the bunch, with its approach/departure/breakover angles being 38.3/25.1/24.6 degrees, respectively. It also comes standard with 33-inch mud-terrain rubber.

The 4WD system is your standard part-time with low range. As is the norm these days, it comes with various driving modes, including Normal, Tow/Haul, Off-Road, Terrain, and Baja. The latter is aimed at high-speed off-road antics, though don't expect Raptor-like performance.

The ZR2's most impressive standard feature is the power-locking front and rear differentials. Base models have an open differential, while the Trail Boss and Z71 only have an electronically locking rear differential.

Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Chevrolet
Driving Back View Chevrolet

Tacoma fans are unlikely to be impressed by all of Chevy's electronic overlords. It's an off-roader for those who don't like interference.

We recently spent some time with the Trail Edition and were charmed by its straightforward approach to off-roading. You get a locking rear differential, off-road tires, and a basic part-time 4WD system. The approach and departure angles (34 and 23. degrees, respectively) are not as impressive, so you'll have to be more careful when selecting lines through obstacles.

We did not miss the concept of driving modes. It's a lot more fun relying on the mechanical bits when off-roading. As much as manufacturers like to punt hill descent control, we'll always prefer using compression when going down something.

2022 Toyota Tacoma Front View Driving Toyota
2022 Toyota Tacoma Rearward Vision Toyota
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
CarBuzz / Ian Wright

Pricing & Verdict: A Clear Winner?

Pricing for the new Colorado is not available yet, but we expect it to begin at roughly $28,000. The new Colorado is only available as a Crew Cab, so the price increased drastically.

Toyota is in the same ballpark, with Tacoma pricing starting at $28,940 and going up to $46,585.

With that in mind, it's easy to call a victory for the Colorado. It betters the Tacoma in every department that matters, but the 'Taco will likely remain the top seller in its segment.

We appreciate how modern the new Colorado is, but the Tacoma is a fan favorite because it works. It will keep on working until long after the planet's current population has been wiped out.

Frontal Aspect Chevrolet
Front View Toyota

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