2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator

  • 2021 Toyota Tacoma

    A black 2021 Toyota Tacoma is angled left.

    Starting at

    $26,150

    2021 Jeep Gladiator

    A silver 2021 Jeep Gladiator is angled right.

    Starting at

    $33,565

    RWD/4WDDrivetrain4WD
    60.5Bed Length (in)60.3
    7Base Screen Size (in)5

    When it comes to mid-size pickup trucks, there aren’t very many options available on today’s market. However, the few that are offered are perfect for getting tough jobs done without paying for a full-size truck. When comparing the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator, we are presented with an interesting battle.

    The Toyota Tacoma is arguably one of the most popular trucks on the market. First introduced to the market in 1995, this petite model has managed to cultivate a reputation for being extremely durable and easy to maintain. Any truck that comes up against the Tacoma is in for a difficult battle.

    As one of the newest trucks to roll out onto the playing field, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator has come up against some steep competition. While the popular Jeep Wrangler has dominated the off-road areas as a sturdy SUV for several decades, the Gladiator is Jeep’s first attempt at a truck. Can it stand up against the well established Toyota Tacoma in 2021? Let’s look at the details of each vehicle to find out!

  • Performance

    A white 2021 Toyota Tacoma is off-roading in the woods after winning the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator comparison.

    Popping the hood of a truck for the first time is a fun experience, especially if you are into mechanics. When comparing the performance output of the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs the 2021 Jeep Gladiator, there are a few similarities and differences that you’ll notice. Let’s take a peek!

    Powertrains for the Smaller Jobs: The Tacoma

    The first thing to note is that both trucks have two powertrain options to choose between. For the 2021 Toyota Tacoma, it all begins with the fuel-efficient 2.7-liter 4-cylinder motor. Mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission, it pumps out 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. You can also expect to get about 21 MPG combined (20 MPG city/23 MPG highway) with rear-wheel drive, which is very good for a truck.

    The second powertrain is centered around a robust 3.5-liter V6 engine. Producing 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, it uses either a 6-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy for rear-wheel drive models is about 21 MPG combined (19 MPG city/24 MPG highway) with the automatic transmission, and 20 MPG combined (18 MPG city/22 MPG highway) with the manual transmission. The maximum towing range is capped at 6,800 pounds.

    Powertrains for the Smaller Jobs: The Gladiator

    Switching gears, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator does not offer a 4-cylinder engine in its lineup. It only comes with one of two V6 motors. The first is a gasoline-powered 3.6-liter engine that generates 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Although this motor produces more horsepower, it doesn’t produce as much torque as the comparable Tacoma counterpart. It also gets worse gas mileage with an average of 19 MPG combined (17 MPG city/22 MPG highway).

    The second option is a 3.0 liter V6 diesel that pushes out 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. The fuel economy is a bit higher at 24 MPG combined (22 MPG city/28 MPG highway), but not everyone wants to deal with owning a diesel truck. The maximum towing limit for the diesel is lower (6,500 pounds) than the Tacoma, and not every refueling station has diesel available. Please note that the towing limit for the regular V6 is 7,650 pounds.

  • Trims

    A black 2021 Toyota Tacoma with the Nightshade Special Edition Package is parked on a city street at night.

    Although Jeep is known for offering a plethora of trim levels on their vehicles, sometimes less is more. The 2021 Toyota Tacoma is available in six concise trims that are each designed for a specific purpose and consumer group. Meanwhile, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is available in six trims and three limited trims. Let’s take a look to see which offerings are the best deals.

    Dress Up Your Tacoma

    The 2021 Toyota Tacoma base model is known as the SR. Riding on 16-inch steel wheels, this model comes with a sliding rear window and power-adjustable side mirrors with heating to prevent ice buildup. The bed is made of composite material that eliminates the need for a bedliner. It even comes with built-in cleats that are moveable to suit your needs. Remote locking/unlocking comes standard with the V6 model and can be added with the convenience package on the 4-cylinder model. As for cabin technology, you will find automatic dual-zone climate control on V6 models and a trio of USB ports on all models. Also, the infotainment interface is displayed on a 7-inch touchscreen that operates with Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and satellite radio. There is even a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that comes with this ride.

    Next, the SR5 adds chrome exterior trim, remote locking/unlocking, and a larger 8-inch touchscreen. The steering wheel has been wrapped in leather for a more sophisticated feel, and several features have been added to the V6 models. These include upgraded alloy wheels, a power-sliding rear window, power-adjustable seatings, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. You can also add several packages to V6 models within this trim, including the Dynamic Navigation Package and the Technology Package (covered in the safety section). Dynamic Navigation adds a navigation system and rear parking sensors. Trail Special Edition includes all-terrain tires, all-weather floor mats, a 120-volt outlet in the bed, and lockable in-bed storage compartments.

    If you’re looking for a truck that is better suited for light off-roading, the TRD Sport is a great pick. Powered by the V6 engine, it adds larger 17-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and a scooped hood. Keyless ignition/entry is also included, along with a wireless charging pad that helps to reduce clutter inside the cabin. Several packages and stand-alone options are available for this trim, including the Technology Package, Premium Sport package, and LED headlights. The Premium Sport package adds leather upholstery, heated seats, and a sunroof.

    Do you want something even more suited to the off-road? The TRD Off-Road in the trim to go with on the 2021 Toyota Tacoma. It gets a chrome-covered rear bumper and a lockable rear differential. It also comes with Bilstein shock absorbers for a smoother ride and an advanced traction control system that adds rock crawling capabilities.

    Looking for something more luxurious? The 2021 Toyota Tacoma Limited is a great option. Riding on 18-inch alloy wheels, this model comes standard with LED headlights, a silver grille, and a sunroof. It also gets leather upholstery, a navigation system, and the aforementioned JBL stereo. This trim is available in the Nightshade Special Edition, which adds Black exterior styling elements for a darkened aesthetic.

    Finally, the top-tier 2021 Toyota Tacoma trim is the TRD Pro. This off-roading extraordinaire rolls on 16-inch Black wheels with all-terrain tires. It includes a Black grille, LED headlights, a scooped hood, and a thick skid plate for protection against rocks. All of the upgrades on the luxurious Limited trim are also included on the TRD Pro.

    Dress Up Your Gladiator

    On the other hand, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is more expensive and has less to offer on the entry-level trim. Known as the Sport, this base model includes manual locks and mirrors along with crank windows. There is only one USB port compared to the Tacoma’s three ports, and the infotainment display is a small 5-inch monitor compared to the Tacoma’s 7-inch touchscreen. This vehicle does, however, come with Jeep’s iconic soft top and removable doors/windshield. The Sport S is next, and only adds a few improvements in features to the Sport.

    If you are looking for a Gladiator that is more visually unique, you can opt for one of the limited edition trims. The Willys Sport, the Willys, and the 80th Anniversary Edition are all styled to appeal to the hardcore Jeep fan. Most of the changes are purely cosmetic, though.

    The next trim on the 2021 Jeep Gladiator is the Overland. Featuring automatic headlights, this model gets full power accessories and heated side mirrors. It also includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror and two USB ports. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather for a touch of elegance, and automatic climate control has been installed. Also, the infotainment system gets a larger 7-inch touchscreen and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

    Next, the Rubicon is the off-roading model in the lineup. It comes with all-terrain tires, locking front/back differentials, skid plates, rock rails, and a stabilizer bar. It is on-par with the Tacoma TRD Pro for off-roading, but it doesn’t have the luxuries that the Tacoma comes with.

    Lastly, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Mojave takes the off-roading equipment off and adds a 1-inch front suspension lift, hydraulic jounce bumpers, and a reinforced frame. It is not Trail Rated, but it is Desert Rated, which isn’t something that many people look for in Pennsylvania. In other words, it’s engineered for a very different type of terrain that may be perfect for some people but wholly unnecessary for others.

  • Safety

    The dashboard of a 2021 Toyota Tacoma is shown.

    Comparing the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs the 2021 Jeep Gladiator in terms of safety shows a very clear winner. Jeep is not well known for having great safety systems, but Toyota certainly is. Let’s take a look at what’s included on each trim.

    The Standard of Safety

    Every Tacoma comes with a suite of driving aids, including forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning. Meanwhile, the Jeep Gladiator only gets basic cruise control on the base trim. So, we can already see a clear winner in this category.

    Upgrade Safety to Match Your Needs

    The 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR5, TRD Sport, and TRF Off-Road trims can all be equipped with the Technology package. This adds blindspot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road can also add a 360-degree camera parking system that helps prevent fender benders. Then, the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro models can be fitted with the Multi-Terrain monitor that allows you to see your truck’s position while traversing unbeaten paths. Finally, the Limited gets all the aforementioned safety features except for the Multi-Terrain Monitor.

    As for the remaining 2021 Jeep Gladiator trims, you can opt for blindspot monitoring, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and rear parking sensors on some trim levels. However, none of these features come standard on any trim. That’s pretty disappointing for the much higher price point.

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