It’s another match-up, this time between the 2023 Ford Ranger vs. the 2023 Toyota Tacoma. Is the Ford all it's cracked up to be when stacked up against the more expensive truck? Yes, it is! With a few better features and other key advantages, the Ranger comes in first place this time around. With our comprehensive comparison guide – we’ll break it down and show you why.
- The Ranger has the advantage if you like to go off-roading.
- You’re going to get better fuel economy in the Ranger when compared to the Tacoma.
- The Ranger tows almost a thousand pounds more than the Tacoma.
PERFORMANCE: THE RANGER STARTS THE RACE OFF STRONG
Our comparison starts with the superior engine and towing potential that is packed underneath Ford’s hood. You’re going to get more out of what you spend on a Ranger with its standard engine of a 2.3-liter, 4V that’s producing 270 horsepower. The Tacoma’s base engine makes 159 horsepower from its 2.7-liter, 4V. There is another powertrain option offered with any model of the Tacoma however, and that is a 278-hp, 3.5-liter, V6 engine. Not too much of a difference from the Ranger, but already starting to climb higher in the price range after choosing to upgrade an engine.
With its standard engine, you’re also going to get better gas mileage out of the Ranger than the Tacoma, with the Tacoma doing 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, while the Ranger does 21 in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. As far as towing is concerned, the Ranger has the Tacoma beat by a long shot. The Tacoma is already clocking in a maximum towing power of upwards of 6,800 pounds. The Ranger, however, isn’t messing around with a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds. If you need to get work done – best to side with the Ranger’s turbocharged engine.
OFF-ROADING POTENTIAL: ALMOST A TIE
You’re going to get some solid off-road experience behind the wheel of either of these trucks, as they both offer an off-road specific trim. But we’ve found that the Ranger has a slight edge on what it can offer, which goes a bit above and beyond what the Tacoma does. For starters, while the superior, standard engine of the Ranger doesn’t offer any other powertrain options if you upgrade to the Ranger Raptor, you’re going to get a stronger powertrain in addition to all the other added benefits. The Raptor comes with multiple driving modes, FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve internal bypass shocks, an active exhaust system, and on top of that, a 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 288 hp and 491 lb.-ft of torque. A cut above the optional power train the Tacoma offers. The Tacoma’s off-road equivalent is the Tacoma TRD Pro. Some of the features included here that the Ford truck doesn’t have are a multi-terrain monitor and an electrically locking rear differential.
TECHNOLOGY & FEATURES: RANGER VS. TACOMA
You’re going to get a lot of the latest tech in either one of these trucks. The Tacoma does offer a bigger touch screen, with it being able to reach up to 14 inches. But the Ranger has a slight edge with its standard touch screen being 10 inches compared to the Tacoma’s 8, with also the option to have a vertically oriented infotainment system instead, which is 12 inches. Both trucks are nearly identical in size, both seat up to five. We have found that the standard Tacoma comes with a few more standard, truck-specific features that are only optional in trim levels on the Ranger, such as auto- headlight, cruise control, steering wheel controls, and a sliding rear window. Very minor features, but standard specifics that set the Tacoma apart.
WHICH TRUCK IS THE BETTER DEAL?
On average the Ranger is going to cost you around a thousand dollars less than a Tacoma when comparing the base models. The average Ranger will run on the cheaper side of $27,400 while the Tacoma starts around $28,250, with prices quickly jumping up the more upgrades and trims you start looking at. We’ve found that the Ranger ends up still costing less the more you add on. With the better gas mileage, towing, power, and standard tech features – we can’t shy away from recommending the Ranger first and foremost over the Tacoma.