Trucks aren’t just the go-to workhorse these days. Nowadays, they can safely haul what you need without trouble and still include good fuel efficiency ratings, multimedia features, and fun interior and exterior styling.
Deciding on which truck to get can be tricky, though. Most offerings are reliable enough to get the job done, but not every mid-size truck is the same. Some have more impressive individual features like the Tacoma’s available off-roading-capable configurations.
The Toyota Tacoma also benefits from over 50 years of truck heritage. GMC has been building trucks for a long time, but the Canyon is the newest arrival to the mid-size truck market in this comparison, debuting in 2004.
The Canyon does have an off-road styled grade and has great standard horsepower, but the legendarily reliable Tacoma has an impressive array of options including the off-road proven TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro. The Tacoma also has an abundance of safety features too.
So which mid-size truck should get your full attention? Pick for yourself with a side-by-side comparison of the 2021 Tacoma vs. 2021 Canyon in the categories of performance, safety, and reliability.
Published Date: 06/10/2021
Be in control of your drive with off-roading features that will help you tackle variable terrain with ease in the Tacoma and Canyon.
For a more hands-on driving approach, the Toyota Tacoma has a manual transmission available on the TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro trims. Conversely, the 2021 GMC Canyon does not have an available manual transmission on any of their trims.
No matter the transmission you choose, both the Tacoma and the Canyon have configurations that can handle steep inclines and rocky roads. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road has standard TRD Off-Road tuned suspension with Bilstein® shocks for a smoother ride and an electronically controlled locking rear differential to help avoid slippage. Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) and Crawl Control (CRAWL) are also standard on the TRD Off-Road 4x4. Similarly, the Canyon AT4 4x4 has a standard Off-Road Suspension Package and automatic locking rear differential.
Whether you're climbing a hill or hauling materials, power under the hood is key. All Tacomas come with a 3.5L V6 engine that has 278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. torque starting with the Tacoma SR 4x2 Access Cab V6. For more power on the Canyon, the 3.6L V6 engine has 308 horsepower and 191 lb.-ft. torque. However, with more torque, the Tacoma is better able to perform at low speeds in tough situations.
Knowing you're surrounded by advanced safety technology in the Toyota Tacoma can help reduce your worries while driving.
The Tacoma comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). This suite of active safety features includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The Canyon does have some comparable safety features, like Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. However, these do not come standard on all trims. They are available on the Elevation 2WD and come standard on the Denali 2WD.
For additional help changing lanes, the Tacoma has Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) available on the TRD Off-Road trim. It comes standard on the Limited and TRD Pro. The Canyon does not list Rear Cross-Traffic Alert or Blind Spot Monitoring on their specs page.
Aside from all of the driver-assistive technology, airbags are still an important safety feature in all vehicles. The Toyota Tacoma has a driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and front and rear Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags (RSCA). You also get driver and front passenger active headrests. The Canyon comes standard with frontal airbags for driver and front passenger, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for driver and front outboard passenger, and head-curtain airbags for front and rear outboard seating positions.
Toyota is a brand backed by a plethora of awards and known for its reliability. The Toyota Tacoma holds up to this legacy.
All purchases and leases of new Tacomas come with the ToyotaCare No Cost Maintenance Plan and Roadside Assistance. This factory-scheduled maintenance plan lasts 25,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first, and Roadside Assistance lasts 2 years and unlimited miles.
For the competitor GMC Canyon, GMC Pre-Paid Maintenance and GMC Pre-Paid Maintenance Plus plans are available. However, the cost and duration of coverage depends on the plan you buy. Roadside Assistance is included on the Canyon for 5 years, up to 60,000 miles.
Additionally, the Toyota Tacoma won numerous Kelley Blue Book® Awards. They are: 2020 5-Year Cost to Own, Best Resale Value: Midsize Pickup Truck for 11 years in a row (2010-2020), and 2020 Best Resale Value Top 10. The GMC Canyon did not win any similar Kelley Blue Book® Awards for the 2020 model.
The 2021 Tacoma and the Canyon are two mid-size trucks that deliver powerful performance and that have features to help you stay safe and comfortable on the road. The Tacoma stands out with several great features, including some powerful performance features, active safety features, and reliability features.