Though there are a lot of new contenders in the midsize truck arena, the two that have reigned supreme for the past several years are the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado. In 2017, the Tacoma had nearly double the sales of the Colorado, with the Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and GMC Canyon falling much further behind.
The Ranger's return to the states and the Jeep Gladiator pickup mean that the Tacoma and Colorado are going to have to fight to keep their lead. As competition heats up in the segment, let’s compare the Tacoma vs Colorado to see which of these two trucks comes out on top.
Tacoma vs Colorado: Exterior
While we can say that the Tacoma and Colorado are equally good-looking trucks, people are always going to have a personal preference when it comes to style. Right away, these two trucks look noticeably different from one another. With a hexagonal shape grille, the front of the Tacoma is much more angular and geometric in comparison to the Colorado. The Colorado has a much more traditional looking front end that slants slightly back. A horizontal bar runs across the grille, topped off with the legendary Chevy bowtie. Although the Tacoma may look a bit more aggressive with sharp lines and protruding edges, the Colorado has a cleaner, more seamless appearance. Both off-roading versions of the Colorado and Tacoma feature a hood scoop that gives off a more aggressive vibe. The Tacoma is significantly lighter than the Colorado by a few hundred pounds, which is a significant difference. The Tacoma also is smaller than the Colorado, although they are both midsize trucks.
For 2018, there are similar color options for both trucks, although the Tacoma’s Inferno color is a unique orangey-red that isn’t for the faint of heart. Other colors for the Tacoma include Blazing Blue Pearl, Super White, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, Barcelona Red Metallic, Quicksand, Cement, and Cavalry Blue. Although Blazing Blue Pearl is similar to the Colorado’s Kinetic Blue Metallic shade, the latter is slightly darker. The Colorado also offers Red Hot, Satin Steel Metallic, Silver Ice Metallic, Summit White, Black, Deepwood Green Metallic, Graphite Metallic, and Cajun Red Tintcoat.
For the tailgate area of the trucks, the Tacoma features a stamped tailgate, giving the back end a more rugged, textured look. With badging on either side and the handle in the middle, the Tacoma is nice and symmetrical. The Colorado tailgate features the Chevy bowtie logo in the middle of the tailgate along with badging in the lower left corner. Both trucks have rectangular-shaped taillights, although the Tacoma’s are more curved. One extra feature of the Chevy Colorado is the CornerStep rear bumper, which features nice little cut-out steps so you can easily grab things out of the truck bed. Although these aren’t necessary, they are certainly useful if you frequently haul loads and reach for stuff in the back of the truck.
Tacoma vs Colorado: Interior
When it comes to the interior, both trucks offer a nice and comfortable cabin, although the Colorado seems to outshine the Tacoma in this respect. Especially on the base model, the Colorado offers a nice interior for the price. Since the Colorado is already less expensive than the Tacoma starting off, that’s a pretty big perk for the price point. The Tacoma, which costs a few thousand more than the Colorado right off the bat, doesn’t offer much luxury when it comes to the interior. For those who really want a truck because of the capabilities and purpose they serve, the interior isn’t going to matter as much compared to someone looking for a cushy, lux truck that will never see any dirt or mud. But if the interior is an important factor, the Colorado would most likely outrank the Tacoma for you. Of course, as you go up in trim models, the interior for the Tacoma is going to get more comfortable and be fitted with higher quality materials. That being said, you may have to shell out even more money to get the same interior comfort for the Tacoma than you would for the Colorado. When it comes to technology and infotainment, the Colorado once again holds a slight advantage over the Tacoma.
Chevy’s infotainment system is one of the best in the segment. Toyota’s infotainment system, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. While the Colorado features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Toyota has yet to introduce those capabilities for their vehicles. Both the Tacoma and Colorado offer Bluetooth features, reverse backup cameras, and voice command. The Tacoma does feature a GoPro mount integrated into the windshield, which is a cool feature for those who want to get their off-roading excursions on camera.
Tacoma vs Colorado: Engines
Base 2018 Colorado models feature a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that puts out 200 horsepower and 191 lb.-ft. of torque. Paired with a six-speed manual transmission, fuel economy averages 20 miles per hour in the city and 26 for highway driving. The most basic 2018 Tacoma model features a 2.7L four-cylinder engine, producing 159 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. In comparison to the Tacoma, the Colorado has much more power for the lowest-price model. Other engine options for the Colorado include a 3.6-liter V6 engine, which produces a powerful 308 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque, as well as a 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel that puts out 181 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. For the 3.6L V6 engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission comes standard. The Tacoma doesn’t offer a diesel engine, which is a bit disappointing, but they do offer a slightly larger engine than the base 2.7-liter motor. Competing with Chevy’s 3.6-liter V6, the Tacoma also offers a 3.5-liter V6 engine that sports 278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. Although the Chevy Colorado has an edge up on the Tacoma when it comes to power, the Tacoma is lighter, which helps balance the scale. Towing capacity for the Tacoma is also higher than the Colorado for certain models.
Tacoma vs Colorado: Off-Roading
While both the Colorado and Tacoma offer several different models for off-roading, the top-of-the-line trucks for the trail are the Tacoma TRD Pro and the Colorado ZR2. Both of these trucks are extremely capable off-roading vehicles.
2018 Colorado ZR2
Although the Z71 is a great truck for hitting the trail, Chevy takes it up a notch with the four-wheel-drive Colorado ZR2. A 2’’ lift gives the ZR2 additional ground clearance from the base Colorado. The ZR2 also has a slightly larger body with an extra 90mm in width. Beefy, all-terrain 31-inch blackwall tires sit on 17-inch aluminum wheels. Under the hood, the 3.6L V6 engine comes standard, but the 2.8L Duramax turbodiesel is a great option for those looking for a midsize diesel pickup. An 8-speed automatic transmission is paired with the V6 engine and features powertrain grade braking, which helps reduce overall brake wear and improves vehicle control. A 2-speed Autotrac transfer case can automatically shift depending on road conditions. A transfer case shield helps protect the underbody from debris, rocks, branches, or other obstacles on the trail. The ZR2 features multimatic shocks, front and rear electronic locking differentials, and recovery hooks, so it’s extremely capable straight from the dealership. Along with the spray-on bedliner displaying the ZR2 logo, the leather-appointed seats also feature ZR2 branding. The front fascia, grille, hood, and hood scoop are all specially designed for the ZR2 specifically. Starting price for the ZR2 is $41,395 for an extended cab.
Ground clearance: 8.9 inches
Approach angle: 30 degrees
Departure angle: 23.5 degrees
Breakover angle: 23.5 degrees
2018 Tacoma TRD Pro
A product from Toyota Racing Development, the Tacoma TRD Pro is well-known for its off-road capabilities. Under the hood, the 3.5-liter V6 engine comes standard. A six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission is available, depending on your personal driving preferences. The TRD-tuned suspension system includes 2.5-in. FOX Internal Bypass shocks, increased ride height in the front, and oversize shock shafts. With a TRD cat-back exhaust, LED fog lights from Rigid Industries, hood scoop, and 1/4-in. thick aluminum skid plate, the TRD Pro was made to take a beating. Designed to be rugged enough to withstand any terrain, the TRD Pro is equipped with an electronic locking differential in the rear and can handle anything from rock crawling to trekking through mud. Other TRD performance parts are offered for the TRD Pro, including an air intake, radiator cap, shift knob, exhaust system, and more. TRD leather-trimmed seats, floor mats, and shift knob add unique touches to the interior of the truck. Although the Tacoma may be slower than the Colorado ZR2, it will get better fuel efficiency, although it’s only a small difference. Towing capacity is higher than that of the ZR2, which makes it good for not only going off-road but also hauling stuff. Starting price for the Tacoma TRD Pro is $42,515, which is comparable to the Colorado ZR2.
Ground clearance: 9.4 inches
Approach angle: 35 degrees
Departure angle: 24 degrees
Breakover angle: 26 degrees
It’s worth mentioning that the ground clearance is higher with the Tacoma TRD Pro, and the approach, departure, and breakover angles are also better. However, the Colorado has two electronic locking diffs in both the front and rear, which is ideal for off-roading. That being said, the Tacoma’s smaller, lightweight body gives it an advantage as it enhances maneuverability on the trail. Both trucks are going to offer great off-road capability, so if your debating between the Tacoma TRD Pro and Colorado ZR2, it’s really going to come down to the type of off-roading you’ll be doing most often and your personal preferences.
Tacoma vs Colorado: Specs
For detailed specs, here’s a breakdown of the two base models of the 2018 Tacoma and Colorado, as well as the differences between the more expensive off-roading models, the 2018 Colorado ZR2 and Tacoma TRD Pro.
||2018 Toyota Tacoma SR
||2018 Chevy Colorado
||2018 Tacoma TRD Pro
||2018 Chevy Colorado ZR2
(including destination charge)
||Access Cab, Double Cab
||Extended Cab, Crew Cab
|Bed Lengths (ft.)
||2.7L DOHC 4-Cyl. 16-Valve
||2.5L DOHC I4
||3.6L DOHC V6
||20 city/23 highway
||20 city/26 highway
||17 city/20 highway
||16 city/18 highway
Tacoma vs Colorado: Which is Right For You?
Depending on your own personal preferences when it comes to style, handling, ride quality, comfort, and noise levels, deciding between a Chevy Colorado vs Toyota Tacoma might be a difficult choice. However, there are several things you may want to consider before deciding. For off-road enthusiasts who plan on taking their truck off the beaten path, then the Tacoma may be the better choice. With a higher ground clearance and better approach angles, the Tacoma can handle trails with ease. However, driving the Tacoma is going to feel like a truck, a bit noisier and not the most comfortable ride. If you want a more comfortable ride with a better-quality interior, then the Colorado will certainly suffice and is less expensive for the most basic model.
Reasons to Buy A Tacoma
- Off-road capability
- Better safety ratings
- Longer bed options
- Exceptional towing capabilities
- Better resale value
Reasons to Buy A Colorado
- Cheaper starting cost
- Higher quality interior
- More powerful engines
- Diesel engine option
- Better technology features
- Comfortable, quiet ride
The Tacoma and Colorado are two of the most popular mid-size pickups. While they’re very similar from the exterior, the interior comparison definitely favors the Colorado. The base Colorado has a more powerful engine than the Tacoma and comes in at a lower price point as well. The Tacoma’s main advantage for power is that it is very light. This means that the Tacoma has an edge when it comes to off-roading as well, though they’re both among our best off-road vehicles. Those looking for more horsepower in a Toyota pickup may want to consider the full-size Tundra.
- Colorado is less expensive
- Though both trucks are powerful, the Colorado’s engine is more powerful
- Tacoma’s ground clearance and weight make it the better off-roader
- Colorado has a more comfortable interior
No matter what you decide, both the Colorado and Tacoma are great midsize trucks. Once you’ve made a purchase, be sure to check out the CJ’s online store for the best deals on aftermarket truck parts including Tonneau covers, exhaust systems, LED lighting solutions, lift kits, and more!
Sources: news.pickuptrucks.com, toyota.com, chevrolet.com, tfltruck.com | Image Credit: toyota.com, media.chevrolet.com
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