Tacoma Vs Ranger Vs Colorado: Which Midsize Truck Is Best For You?

If you’re looking for a midsize pickup truck, three of the top options to consider are the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado. With similar size and capability, but key differences, choosing between these trucks really comes down to your priorities and needs.

In this comprehensive comparison guide, we’ll look in-depth at the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado, including how they match up in terms of power and performance, technology and features, pricing and value, off-road capability, towing/hauling ability, reliability and owner satisfaction, and more. By the end, you’ll have all the details you need to decide which midsize truck is the best choice for you.

Overview and History

Toyota Tacoma Overview

The Toyota Tacoma has been a popular choice in the midsize truck segment for many years. Known for its reliability and off-road capabilities, the Tacoma has a loyal following of fans. It first entered the market in 1995 as a replacement for the Toyota Pickup, and since then, it has undergone several updates and improvements.

The Tacoma offers a range of trims and configurations to suit different needs, from the base SR model to the off-road-oriented TRD Pro.

Ford Ranger Overview

The Ford Ranger has a long history, dating back to its initial introduction in the 1980s. However, it was discontinued in the United States in 2011. After an eight-year hiatus, the Ranger made a comeback in 2019 with a redesigned model.

The latest Ranger offers a blend of comfort and capability, with modern features and technology. It is available in different trims and offers a range of engine options to cater to various preferences.

Chevrolet Colorado Overview

The Chevrolet Colorado first hit the market in 2004 as a replacement for the Chevrolet S-10. It offers a balance between a comfortable daily driver and a capable work truck. The Colorado comes in various trims and offers a selection of engines, including a diesel option.

It has gained popularity for its towing and hauling capabilities, as well as its available off-road packages.

When comparing these three midsize trucks, it’s important to consider factors such as reliability, performance, comfort, and technology. Each truck has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific needs.

Power and Performance

Engines and Transmissions

When it comes to power and performance, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado each offer a range of engine options to suit different needs. The Tacoma comes with a standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, but also offers a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine for those seeking extra horsepower.

The Ranger, on the other hand, comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, which provides impressive power and efficiency. The Colorado offers a choice between a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.6-liter V6 engine, and a turbocharged 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, giving buyers a variety of options to suit their preferences.

In terms of transmissions, all three trucks offer smooth-shifting automatic transmissions, but the Tacoma also offers a manual transmission for those who prefer a more engaging driving experience.

Power and Acceleration

When it comes to power and acceleration, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all deliver impressive performance. The Tacoma’s V6 engine provides ample power for towing and hauling, while the Ranger’s turbocharged engine offers impressive acceleration and torque.

The Colorado, particularly with its diesel engine option, offers excellent low-end torque for towing heavy loads. Whether you need to merge onto the highway or tackle off-road trails, these midsize trucks have the power to get the job done.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is an important consideration for many truck buyers. The Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all offer competitive fuel efficiency for their class. According to EPA estimates, the Tacoma achieves around 20-23 mpg in combined city and highway driving, depending on the engine and configuration.

The Ranger offers similar fuel economy, with estimates ranging from 20-23 mpg combined. The Colorado, with its diesel engine option, provides even better fuel efficiency, with estimates ranging from 23-30 mpg combined.

It’s worth noting that actual fuel economy may vary depending on driving conditions and individual driving habits.

Ride and Handling

When it comes to ride and handling, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado each have their own strengths. The Tacoma is known for its off-road capability and rugged suspension, making it a great choice for those who plan to do a lot of off-roading.

The Ranger strikes a balance between comfort and capability, offering a smooth ride both on and off the pavement. The Colorado offers a comfortable and composed ride, with responsive steering and well-tuned suspension.

Whether you’re navigating city streets or tackling rough terrain, these midsize trucks offer a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience.

Design and Interior Features

Exterior Design and Styling

When it comes to the design and styling of midsize trucks, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado each bring their own unique flair to the table. The Tacoma boasts a rugged and muscular look, with its bold grille and chiseled body lines.

The Ranger, on the other hand, offers a more modern and sleek design, with its aerodynamic shape and aggressive front fascia. Meanwhile, the Colorado strikes a balance between the two, with a refined and sophisticated exterior.

Whether you prefer a rugged or a more contemporary look, there’s a midsize truck design to suit your taste.

Interior Comfort and Layout

The interior comfort and layout of a truck can greatly impact your driving experience. In this aspect, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all aim to provide a comfortable and functional cabin. The Tacoma offers a spacious and driver-focused interior, with easy-to-reach controls and supportive seating.

The Ranger impresses with its quality materials and intuitive layout, while the Colorado offers a refined and well-appointed interior with ample legroom and storage options. Whichever midsize truck you choose, you can expect a comfortable and well-designed interior.

Cargo Capacity and Versatility

Midsize trucks are known for their versatility and ability to handle various cargo needs. The Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all offer impressive cargo capacities and innovative features to make loading and unloading a breeze.

The Tacoma boasts a composite bed that is both durable and lightweight, while the Ranger offers a spacious cargo area with available bed accessories. The Colorado provides a versatile bed with available cargo management systems.

Whether you’re hauling equipment for work or gearing up for a weekend adventure, these midsize trucks have you covered.

Available Trim Levels and Packages

Customization options are important when choosing a midsize truck, and the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado offer a range of trim levels and packages to suit your needs. The Tacoma comes in six trims, including the off-road-oriented TRD Pro, while the Ranger offers three trims, including the adventure-ready FX4.

The Colorado offers five trims, including the rugged ZR2. Additionally, each truck offers various packages to enhance performance, technology, and convenience. Whether you’re looking for off-road capabilities or luxury features, there’s a trim level and package combination that’s perfect for you.

Technology and Safety

Infotainment and Connectivity

When it comes to infotainment and connectivity, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all offer impressive features to keep you entertained and connected on the road. Each truck comes equipped with a touchscreen display that allows for easy navigation through various menus and settings.

You can access your favorite apps, listen to music, and make hands-free calls using Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, all three trucks offer compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to seamlessly integrate your smartphone with the infotainment system.

One key difference between these midsize trucks is the size of the touchscreen display. The Ranger boasts an available 8-inch touchscreen, while the Tacoma and Colorado come with a slightly smaller 7-inch display.

This may be a deciding factor for those who prefer a larger interface for easier interaction with the system.

Another important aspect to consider is the availability of advanced sound systems. The Tacoma offers an available JBL premium audio system, delivering high-quality sound for an immersive listening experience.

The Ranger offers an optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, known for its exceptional audio quality. The Colorado, on the other hand, features an available Bose sound system, providing clear and crisp audio throughout the cabin.

Driver Assistance and Safety

When it comes to driver assistance and safety features, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado are equipped with a range of technologies to help keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

All three trucks come standard with a rearview camera, making it easier to navigate in tight spaces and avoid obstacles when reversing. Additionally, they offer optional features such as blind-spot monitoring, which alerts you when there’s a vehicle in your blind spot, and rear cross-traffic alert, which warns you of approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking space.

Furthermore, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado offer advanced safety features like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. This system uses sensors to detect potential collisions and can automatically apply the brakes to help mitigate or avoid accidents.

In terms of crash test ratings, the Tacoma and Ranger have both received top marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The Colorado has also performed well in safety tests, although it has not achieved the same level of recognition as its competitors.

It’s important to note that while these safety features can greatly enhance your driving experience and provide peace of mind, they should not replace responsible driving practices and attentive driving.

For more detailed information on the safety features and crash test ratings of each truck, you can visit the official websites of the NHTSA (www.nhtsa.gov) and the IIHS (www.iihs.org).

Off-Road Performance

When it comes to off-road performance, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all have their unique strengths. Let’s take a closer look at what sets them apart.

4WD Systems and Terrain Management

All three trucks come equipped with advanced 4WD systems that offer excellent off-road capability. The Tacoma features a part-time 4WD system with an electronically controlled transfer case, allowing drivers to easily switch between 2WD and 4WD modes.

The Ranger offers a similar system with its SelectShift® 4WD system, while the Colorado boasts an Autotrac® 4WD system for enhanced traction on various terrains.

Ground Clearance and Suspension

When it comes to tackling rough terrains, ground clearance is crucial. The Tacoma leads the pack with an impressive ground clearance of X inches, followed closely by the Ranger with X inches and the Colorado with X inches.

Additionally, all three trucks feature robust suspension systems that can handle bumps and obstacles with ease, providing a smooth and controlled ride even on challenging off-road trails.

Angles and Critical Dimensions

The Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado excel in different angles and critical dimensions that contribute to their off-road capabilities. The Tacoma boasts an approach angle of X degrees, a departure angle of X degrees, and a breakover angle of X degrees, making it highly capable on steep inclines and declines.

The Ranger offers similar angles, while the Colorado comes close with its own impressive numbers.

Skid Plates and Off-Road Protection

Off-road adventures can be rough on the undercarriage of a truck, which is why skid plates and off-road protection are essential. The Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all come equipped with durable skid plates that safeguard critical components like the engine, transmission, and fuel tank.

These trucks are built to withstand the rigors of off-road driving and provide peace of mind to the adventurous driver.

Overall, when it comes to off-road performance, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado are all excellent choices. It ultimately comes down to your personal preferences and specific off-road needs. To gather more information about each truck’s off-road capabilities, be sure to visit the official websites of Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado.

Towing and Hauling

Max Towing Capacity

When it comes to towing heavy loads, the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado all offer impressive capabilities. The Tacoma boasts a maximum towing capacity of up to 6,800 pounds, while the Ranger can tow up to 7,500 pounds.

On the other hand, the Colorado takes the lead with a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,700 pounds. These numbers make it clear that all three trucks are well-equipped for towing heavy trailers, boats, and other equipment.

Payload Capacity

In terms of payload capacity, which refers to the amount of weight the truck can carry in its bed, the Colorado offers the highest numbers. With a payload capacity of up to 1,578 pounds, it surpasses both the Tacoma and Ranger.

The Tacoma comes in second place with a payload capacity of up to 1,440 pounds, while the Ranger offers a payload capacity of up to 1,860 pounds. If you need a truck that can handle heavy loads in the bed, the Colorado might be the best choice for you.

Integrated Towing Features

All three trucks come with a range of integrated towing features to enhance the towing experience and provide added safety. The Tacoma and Ranger both offer trailer sway control, which helps to stabilize the trailer when towing.

The Colorado goes a step further by offering an available integrated trailer brake controller, which allows for more precise braking control when towing heavy loads. These features can greatly enhance the towing experience and provide peace of mind while on the road.

Pricing and Value

When considering which midsize truck to purchase, pricing and value are important factors to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the pricing and value of the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado.

MSRP Range

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is the starting point for comparing the pricing of these midsize trucks. The Tacoma has an MSRP range starting from $26,400 to $46,780, depending on the trim level and optional features.

The Ranger has an MSRP range starting from $24,820 to $40,070, while the Colorado starts from $21,300 and goes up to $44,095. It’s important to note that these prices can vary based on factors such as location and dealership negotiations.

Resale Value

Resale value is another crucial aspect to consider when evaluating the long-term value of a midsize truck. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Tacoma has consistently maintained its value over the years, making it an excellent choice for those looking to resell their truck in the future.

The Ranger and Colorado also hold their value relatively well, although not quite as strongly as the Tacoma. Considering the resale value can help offset the initial cost of purchasing a midsize truck.

Maintenance Costs

When it comes to maintenance costs, it’s worth noting that each truck may have varying expenses. The Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado are all known for their reliability, but it’s important to consider factors such as routine maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts.

While it can be difficult to pinpoint exact costs, it may be helpful to compare owner reviews and consult with a trusted mechanic to get a better understanding of potential maintenance expenses.

Ultimately, the pricing and value of a midsize truck will depend on individual preferences and needs. It’s essential to consider factors such as MSRP range, resale value, and maintenance costs to make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and long-term goals.

Reliability and Owner Satisfaction

When considering which midsize truck to purchase, reliability and owner satisfaction are important factors to take into account. After all, you want a vehicle that not only performs well but also stands the test of time.

Let’s delve into the reliability and owner satisfaction of the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado to help you make an informed decision.

Repair Frequency and Problem Areas

One way to gauge the reliability of a truck is by looking at its repair frequency and common problem areas. According to a study conducted by a leading automotive website, the Tacoma has consistently ranked high in terms of reliability.

Its sturdy build and durable components have earned it a reputation for withstanding tough terrains and demanding usage. The Ranger and Colorado also fare well in this aspect, with minimal reported issues.

In terms of problem areas, the Tacoma has had some complaints about rusting frames in earlier models. However, Toyota has addressed this issue and newer models now come with improved corrosion resistance.

The Ranger and Colorado, on the other hand, have had some reported issues with transmission and electrical systems, but these have been relatively minor and not widespread.


Warranties can provide peace of mind when it comes to owning a truck. The Tacoma offers a standard 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Both the Ranger and Colorado offer similar warranties, ensuring that any major issues will be taken care of during the initial years of ownership.

Owner Reviews

Listening to the experiences of other truck owners can provide valuable insights into the overall satisfaction with a particular model. Online forums and review websites are great resources to gather information from real-life owners of the Tacoma, Ranger, and Colorado.

Based on owner reviews, the Tacoma has garnered a strong following and is praised for its reliability, off-road capabilities, and long-term durability. The Ranger and Colorado also have their fair share of satisfied owners, with positive feedback regarding their performance, handling, and overall value for money.


When comparing the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado, each has its own strengths. The Tacoma leads in off-road performance and resale value. The Ranger excels in tech features and fuel efficiency. And the Colorado offers great towing capacity and a smooth ride.

Taking your needs and priorities into account, weigh the pros and cons carefully. Make sure to test drive all three trucks too. This will ensure you select the best midsize pickup to suit your lifestyle and get you excited to hit the road.

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