2021 Chevrolet Colorado vs. Toyota Tacoma Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Jun 23, 2021

Midsize pickup trucks fill much the same role as compact trucks of 20 years ago. They offer impressive utility while bypassing the significant expense and unwieldy proportions that define large pickups.

Moreover, midsize trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma offer more day-to-day usability than their smaller forebears did. Their cabs are larger, more comfortable, and better equipped, and owners and their passengers enjoy much higher levels of crash protection. And more powerful engines provide better performance and higher tow ratings and payload capacities.

Of course, you won't be able to pull a massive camper with a midsize Colorado or Tacoma. Nor will you have access to all the technology and conveniences found in full-size trucks. But for some buyers, the just-right dimensions of these midsize trucks will justify the tradeoff. So here's a 2021 Chevrolet Colorado vs. 2021 Toyota Tacoma comparison to help you decide between these strong sellers in the midsize class.

Price and Value

2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT Gray Front Quarter View

2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT

Consumers will find that the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup comes in two cab styles: an extended cab with a 74-inch cargo bed and a crew cab with either a 62-inch or 74-inch cargo bed.

If you ever plan to use the back seat for transporting passengers, get the crew cab. It has conventional, forward-hinged rear doors and a rear bench seat. The extended cab has small, rear-hinged doors and a pair of jump seats (yes, you'll have trouble installing car seats on them). You'll also want to think about how much bed space you require. You can carry more stuff with a long-bed crew cab, but it won't be as easy to park as a Colorado with a short bed.

Pricing on the regular Chevrolet Colorado ranges from $27,100 to $41,600, not including a $1,195 destination charge. Trim levels are WT (Work Truck), LT, Z71, and ZR2. All trims give you the choice of two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), except the ZR2, which is 4WD only. Pricing varies for the 4WD option on other trims.

Consumers interested in connected services will find that most Colorado pickups come with a 3-month trial subscription to Chevrolet's OnStar suite, which includes everything from automatic collision notification to a teen driver mode. You'll also get one month of complimentary Wi-Fi, and you can use 3 gigabytes of data.

Chevy will provide one complimentary maintenance visit, provided it occurs within one year of your purchase.

The 2021 Toyota Tacoma also comes in two cab styles: extended cab (known as Access Cab) and crew cab (called the Double Cab). The Tacoma Access Cab has a 74-inch cargo bed. Double Cabs can be equipped with either a 60-inch or 74-inch bed.

Like the Colorado extended cab, the Toyota Tacoma Access Cab has a pair of small jump seats and reverse-hinged rear doors. However, if you need to put people in the back, the Tacoma Double Cab will make your life easier.

Pricing on the Toyota Tacoma ranges from $26,400 to $44,325, not including a $1,175 destination charge. The Tacoma comes in SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro trim levels. All trims give you the choice of 2WD or 4WD, except the TRD Pro, which is 4WD only. Pricing varies on the 4WD option.

All 2021 Tacomas come with a 1-year trial subscription to Toyota's connected services, including automatic collision notification, rapid access to roadside help, concierge services, and remote engine start and unlocking. The Wi-Fi trial subscription lasts three months (2GB data limit).

Toyota offers free scheduled maintenance for the first two years or 25,000 miles that you own a new Tacoma.

Both midsize trucks hold their value well. The Toyota Tacoma ranks highest among midsize pickup trucks in the J.D. Power 2020 Resale Value Awards. The Chevrolet Colorado ranked second.

Advantage: Toyota Tacoma

Reliability and Quality

2021 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition Gray Front Quarter View

2021 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition

The Chevrolet Colorado did not rank among the top three midsize pickups in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study, but it ranked second in the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles

The Toyota Tacoma did not rank among the top three models in its segment in either the 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Toyota Tacoma comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years and unlimited mileage

Advantage: Chevrolet Colorado

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Chevrolet Colorado Interior Dashboard

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Consumers can select from three engines when configuring a 2021 Chevrolet Colorado. There's a base 4-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque, a V6 with 308 hp and 275 pound-feet of torque, and a turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder with 181 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque. The base 4-cylinder and diesel pair with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 gets an 8-speed automatic.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel economy in combined city and highway driving ranges from 21 to 23 mpg on 2WD trucks and 17 to 21 mpg with 4WD. The diesel is the most efficient engine, but it's also the most expensive. As a result, most Chevy Colorado buyers come home with the V6.

Note that the off-road-focused ZR2 version is less fuel-efficient than other 4WD Colorado pickups, regardless of engine, due to its 2-inch suspension lift and all-terrain tires.

The 2021 Toyota Tacoma offers two engine options. The base 4-cylinder makes 159 hp and 180 pound-feet of torque. The V6 generates 278 hp and 265 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 4-cylinder, but the V6 pairs with either the 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.

There's no fuel economy advantage to getting the 4-cylinder. The EPA says 2WD Tacomas are capable of returning 21 mpg in combined driving, regardless of engine. The 4WD trucks are rated at 20 mpg with the automatic. With the manual transmission, the Tacoma rates just 18 mpg combined. You'll be fortunate to do even that well on the TRD Pro, which is the most extreme off-road model in the Tacoma lineup (more so than the TRD Off-Road trim). It's great fun on dirt trails, but its specialized suspension and tires are a drag on fuel economy.

Advantage: Chevrolet Colorado

Tow Ratings and Trailering Equipment

When properly equipped, a 2021 Chevrolet Colorado crew cab with a short cargo bed and the diesel engine has a tow rating of 7,600 pounds. With the more popular gasoline V6 engine, the Colorado maxes out at 7,000 pounds. These are good numbers for a midsize truck.

You can get an integrated trailer brake controller on the Colorado. There's also an available hitch guidance feature for the truck's reversing camera that adds a Hitch View camera angle and guidelines to ease the process of hooking up a trailer.

The V6 engine is a must if you plan to tow with a 2021 Toyota Tacoma. A properly equipped V6-equipped Tacoma Double Cab with a short bed has a tow rating of 6,700 pounds (6,400 pounds with 4WD).

These tow ratings aren't far off the Chevy's, but keep in mind that the Toyota has lower payload ratings, so you might not be able to take as much gear on your adventures. For example, the V6 4WD Tacoma Double Cab has a payload rating of 1,155 pounds, while a V6 4WD Colorado crew cab can shoulder 1,536 pounds (LT trim level).

Toyota does not offer an integrated trailer brake controller, so you'll need to add that via the aftermarket.

Advantage: Chevrolet Colorado

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition Interior Profile

2021 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition

If you're looking for advanced driving assistance aids (ADAS), you'll need to proceed carefully when configuring a 2021 Chevrolet Colorado. An available safety package for the LT and Z71 trims includes forward-collision warning (FCW) and lane-departure warning (LDW) systems. On the LT, this package also includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), which Chevy calls Forward Collision Alert. Unfortunately, none of these aids are available on the WT and ZR2 trims.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the 2021 Colorado earned four stars out of five for overall crash safety. Chevy's midsize truck rates three stars for rollover resistance.

In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2021 Colorado crew cab earned primarily Good ratings. But it received a Marginal rating (second lowest) for front-passenger protection in the Institute's small-overlap frontal-offset crash test. The IIHS also gave the Chevy's headlights a Poor rating.

All 2021 Toyota Tacomas come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes FCW with pedestrian detection, AEB, LDW, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. In addition, a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic warnings is available on most trims.

In crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the 2021 Tacoma earned a 4-star rating for overall crash protection. In addition, Toyota's midsize pickup has a 4-star rollover resistance rating.

In IIHS testing, the Tacoma Double Cab performed well. It received Good ratings in most crash-test categories and an Acceptable rating for front-passenger protection in small-overlap frontal-offset crashes. In addition, its headlights rate Good or Marginal, depending on the trim level.

Advantage: Toyota Tacoma

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT Black Rear Quarter View

2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT

Base WT versions of the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado come with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. The LT has the same setup but gets a slightly larger, 8-inch touchscreen display and rear-seat USB ports.

The Z71 and ZR2 trims have a higher-resolution 8-inch touchscreen interface compatible with cloud-based apps if you have an active connected services subscription. There's also a wireless phone-charging pad in these models, and factory navigation is optional.

Similarly, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma base SR version starts you out with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Tacoma SR5 sizes up to an 8-inch touchscreen interface. But, again, higher trims offer factory navigation.

Toyota offers three USB ports up front (versus two in the Colorado) but no rear-seat USB ports. In addition, a wireless charging pad is available starting on the TRD Sport trim.

Advantage: Neither

Take a test drive and decide which interface works best for you.

Comfort and Utility

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Green Rear Quarter View

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD

Midsize pickups are all about compromise when it comes to interior comfort and space. Still, both Chevy and Toyota offer a power driver seat on the LT and SR5 trim levels, respectively, to help you find a better driving position. You won't find rear-seat air conditioning vents in these trucks, and you'll want to assess headroom and legroom if you are tall.

There are several bedliner options for the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado. You can get a spray-in bedliner or a plastic bedliner with or without built-in storage compartments. In addition, there's an EZ Lift and Lower tailgate option that reduces the effort of opening and closing the gate and allows you to lock it with your key fob. Available LED bed lighting is worth considering if you'll need to load your Colorado at night.

Older children will enjoy the back seat in the 2021 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab. A high-mounted rear bench seat makes it easy to see out, while an available power-sliding rear window makes for a pleasantly breezy cab on mild days. Toyota also offers dual-zone climate control on the Tacoma, while Chevy only offers a single-zone system.

In the cargo bed, all 2021 Tacomas come standard with four fixed cargo tie-downs and four adjustable cleats on a rail system. If you want more functionality, Toyota offers a Trail Special Edition package with a lockable storage compartment and a 120-volt outlet.

Advantage: Neither

Your individual needs will dictate your preferences here.

Learn More About the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma

If you'd like to learn more about these midsize trucks, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado and 2021 Toyota Tacoma, including the TRD Pro version. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on June 23, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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