2021 Toyota Truck Buyer’s Guide

Thom Blackett | Apr 12, 2021

Drastic change is afoot within the pickup truck market. A slew of electric models is about to arrive, but even now, for the 2021 model year, the variety of once-humble workhorses is remarkable for their styling, capability, safety, and technology. Today’s pickup truck shoppers can buy a diesel-powered Jeep Gladiator, a hybrid-powered Ford F-150, a Hellcat-powered Ram TRX, and everything in between.

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Driving Through Mud Water

By contrast, Toyota’s lineup of trucks keeps things relatively simple. Though the 2021 Tacoma and 2021 Tundra do come with their share of safety features and creature comforts, they carry over into the new model year with the same gasoline engines, familiar appearance, and just two new option packages.

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

2021 Toyota Tacoma - Find the best Toyota deals!

2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade Edition Black Front Quarter View

For 2021, Toyota continues to offer the market’s best-selling midsize pickup truck in a vast assortment of configurations, including rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive (4WD) variants. Extended and crew cab body styles, known as the Access Cab and Double Cab in Toyota terminology, are available with a five- or six-foot cargo bed.

Unlike competitors such as the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator, which offer turbocharged and diesel-powered engines, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma sticks with more traditional powertrains. Here, buyers may select a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 159 hp and 180 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 3.5-liter V6 boasting 278 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission directs output to the rear or all four wheels. Specific to certain Tacomas with the V6 engine, a 6-speed manual gearbox is available.

In terms of capability, a 2021 Tacoma equipped with the 4-cylinder engine will tow up to 3,500 pounds and carry a 1,685-lb. payload. That’s plenty for hauling the jet ski to the lake or filling up on a weekend’s worth of home-improvement supplies. With the V6, you’ll see the payload dip to a maximum of 1,525 lbs., but towing capacity nearly doubles to 6,800 lbs.

Like previous Tacomas, the 2021 model is available in one of several trim levels. These include the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. Even in base SR form, the Tacoma comes well-appointed with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa connectivity, Toyota Connected Services, and safety-related items, including forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems. More expensive versions, such as the Tacoma Limited, add a wireless charging pad, leather upholstery, navigation, and more.

Updates for the 2021 Tacoma consist primarily of two new option packages. The Nightshade Edition package tricks out the Tacoma with dark exterior accents, while the Trail Special Edition package fits the truck with unique TRD wheels, locking bed storage, all-weather floor mats, and other visual enhancements.

In 2022, Toyota plans to move all Tacoma production to Mexico. Learn more about the 2021 Toyota Tacoma.

2021 Toyota Tundra - Find the best Toyota deals!

2021 Toyota Tundra Trail Edition Silver Front Quarter View

A long-overdue overhaul of Toyota’s full-size Tundra pickup is coming for the 2022 model year but, for 2021, the truck soldiers on largely unchanged. The only revisions include new Nightshade Edition and Trail Special Edition packages.

Indecisive buyers will appreciate the Tundra’s powertrain selections, as there is no choice to be made. The standard 5.7-liter V8 is the only available engine, though it proves plenty capable with its 381 hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission transfers power to the rear wheels, or all four when coupled to a part-time 4WD system. When properly equipped, the 2021 Toyota Tundra can tow up to 10,200 lbs. and accommodate a 1,730-lb. payload.

Toyota offers the Tundra in extended and crew cab body styles, with the latter allowing buyers to opt for a short or long bed. Several trim levels are available, including the SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition, and the off-road-ready TRD Pro

Like the Tacoma, all come equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa functionality operable via a linked smartphone app. They also include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and the multitude of features bundled within Toyota Connected Services. For those who want more than the standard goodies, a step up to the Platinum or 1794 Edition opens the door to a JBL audio system, heated and leather-clad front and rear seats, LED headlights, and more. 

Toyota builds the Tundra in San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about the 2021 Toyota Tundra.

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