2021 Tacoma vs. Ranger Comparison

Trucks are the modern workhorses of the world. They need to be reliable, help keep you safe, and come with the multimedia extras people have come to expect. The Tacoma and the Ranger are great examples of this.

Tacoma drivers get the features mentioned above plus the ability to tailor their trucks to their needs. This highly customizable truck comes in six models and has 33 configurations to choose from. For off-roading adventures, the Tacoma TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro are equipped with features such as a 9.4 inch ground clearance and souped-up suspension for rugged terrain. Despite being called the Ranger, its range of models is pretty narrow. It only has variations of the XL, XLT, and the Lariat, none of which are made with off-roading in mind.

While the Tacoma has a slightly higher starting MSRP coming in at $26,400, you'll need to upgrade to the Ranger XLT, which starts at $28,870, to come closer to the active safety offerings of the Tacoma SR.

The Tacoma, on the other hand, comes stacked with a lot of active safety features combined into a suite called Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). Ford has its own active safety suite, but doesn't offer a lot of the same features standard on the base model Ranger XL.

Beyond safety, see which truck comes out ahead in categories like reliability and interior, too.

Published Date: 07/13/2021

2021 Tacoma driving through a cloud of dust


  • Toyota's maintenance plan comes included on all models. The maintenance plan from Ford costs extra.
  • The Tacoma and Ranger come with roadside assistance - the Tacoma for 2 years, unlimited mileage and the Ranger for 5 years/60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • The Tacoma has been a dominant force in the truck market for over 20 years.

Choose a brand that you can count on for a better and more reliable ride that will last.


Toyota helps you save on repairs in the long run with ToyotaCare. This factory-scheduled maintenance plan comes with all new leased and purchased Toyota vehicles and lasts for 25,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first. In addition, ToyotaCare includes 24/7 roadside assistance that lasts for two years and unlimited miles. Ford also has a maintenance and roadside assistance plan. The Ford Protect Premium Maintenance Plan costs extra and prices vary, depending on the type of plan you buy. Their roadside assistance services are included for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Consistent upkeep does a truck good. While you may not notice at the time, it helps preserve your vehicle's resale value for when you go to sell in the future. No brand knows the importance of this more than Toyota. Recently, Toyota was awarded the KBB® Best Resale Value Brand for 2020. This is the 11th year the Tacoma has received this award. Plus, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma is the Best Buy of the Year among midsize pickup trucks, according to Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. The list goes on and on.

Beyond awards and maintenance coverage, the Tacoma has experience on its side. The Tacoma truck has been around for over 20 years. Not to mention, the Toyota Tacoma has been America's best-selling midsize pickup for the last 16 years. As a brand, Toyota has been in the business of making cars for over 75 years. On the flip side, the Ranger was discontinued for the 2012 model year and is now only in its third year for this new generation.

Tacoma driving uphill over rough terrain


  • All models of the Tacoma come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).
  • What safety features you get in the Ranger's Ford Co-Pilot 360™ Technology depends on the model you buy.
  • Both trucks have traction control features for a more stable ride.

With advanced safety technology in the Tacoma and Ranger, your truck can help to get you to where you're going safely.

Standard Safety Features

All Tacomas come with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). This suite of active safety features includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

For its part, the base model Ranger XL has Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking. For more advanced features like BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert and Trailer Coverage, Automatic high beams, and the Lane-Keeping System you'd have to purchase the entire Ford Co-Pilot 360™ Technology package for $625. These features are standard on the XLT and Lariat, however. To match the Tacoma's Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Adaptive Cruise Control is available in the Ranger XLT or Lariat, but you'll also need to add the Technology Package for $995.

You also get additional safety features standard with the Tacoma. The Star Safety System™ includes: Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology® (SST). The Ranger has AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™) and Curve Control but appears not to have comparable features to Smart Stop Technology®.

Interior of 2021 Tacoma


  • The Tacoma base model comes with more charging ports than the base model Ranger.
  • The Tacoma base model comes with a touchscreen.
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility are standard on all Tacoma's. To get them standard in the Ranger, you'd need the XLT orLariat model.

Vehicles today come packed with many media features and drivers can't get enough of them.


All Tacoma models come standard with Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Plus, you get SiriusXM® with a 3-month All Access trial subscription. The 2021 Ranger XL comes standard with an AM/FM stereo radio w/Bluetooth Pass-Thru. Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, and SiriusXM® are available options under the SYNC® 3 Audio Upgrade package which costs extra. SYNC® 3 is standard on the XLT and Lariat and includes two Smart-Charging USB ports. The base model Ford Ranger XL comes standard with only one Smart-Charging USB port. Meanwhile, every 2021 Toyota Tacoma comes standard with three USB ports; one port for multimedia and two for charging phones.

To display all of your in-car tech, the Tacoma SR comes with a 7.0-in. touchscreen, while the SR5 and higher have a standard 8.0-in. touchscreen. The 2021 Ford Ranger XL doesn’t have a touchscreen but comes standard with a 2.3-in. Productivity Screen and the option of upgrading to a 4.2-in. Color Productivity Screen. An 8-in. LCD Capacitive Touchscreen is available with the SYNC® 3 package. This feature is standard in the XLT and Lariat trim which start at $28,870 and $32,910 respectively.

2021 Tacoma parked at an outlook in front of a scenic mountainscape

Conclusion: Tacoma vs. Ranger

  • The base model Tacoma has more active safety features included than the Ranger base model.
  • ToyotaCare comes standard with all new Toyotas, while Ford's scheduled maintenance program costs extra.
  • For a truck that goes the extra mile and is reliable to the end, the Tacoma is a true winner.

Both competitors bring a lot to the table. The 2021 Tacoma brings a lot of safety tech, multimedia features, and sleek styling. The 2021 Ranger brings some active safety and multimedia features, but not all of them come standard.

While you get all that comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) when you choose the Tacoma, the Ranger base model doesn't have many active safety features standard. To get the most out of the Ford Co-Pilot 360™ Technology, you'd need to get the XLT or Lariat.

In addition to helping ensure a safe drive, the Tacoma also has a great reputation for reliability with ToyotaCare and 20 years of Tacoma tradition. Ford has a scheduled maintenance program, but it costs extra.

When you want a truck that's worth every penny, there's only one: the 2021 Toyota Tacoma.