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We compare midsize pickup trucks

Midsize pickups appeal to buyers who don’t need the vast space or extreme capability of full-size trucks but still want a vehicle that can work when needed. They’re also easier to maneuver, less expensive, and they can be even better off-roaders. 

The bestselling midsize pickup is the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, which is offered in a variety of models including three aimed at off-roading. It’s been redesigned for the 2024 model year, and has added hybrid models to the mix.

The 2024 Ford Ranger has been revamped as well. It offers a trio of turbo engines as well as a much more substantial feel, as well as big touchscreen displays and the latest safety technology—not to mention a trailblazing Ranger Raptor edition.

Both trucks take on rivals such as the Chevrolet Colorado and Honda Ridgeline. For those considering the Ranger or Tacoma, though, which is the better choice?

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, photo via Nathan Leach-Proffer

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, photo via Nathan Leach-Proffer

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, photo via Nathan Leach-Proffer

Ranger vs. Tacoma prices and features

  • Base Ranger costs about $34,000

  • Base Tacoma costs about $1,000 less

  • Best picks: Ranger XLT, Tacoma SR5, Tacoma TRD Pro

How much is a Ford Ranger?

Ford offers the Ranger in XL, XLT, Lariat, and Raptor models. The base Ranger starts at about $34,000, and comes standard with cloth seats, vinyl floors, power features, an 10.1-inch touchscreen, and cruise control.

Four-wheel drive adds about $3,645.

We’d move up to the XLT 4×4 for about $40,000. It adds blind-spot monitors, wireless smartphone charging, remote start, and LED bed and interior lighting. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as satellite radio hardware.

The $45,120 Lariat has power front seats, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound, a surround-view camera system, twin 12.0-inch displays, and adaptive cruise control. At the peak of performance, the $56,960 Ranger Raptor gets Lariat gear plus a slew of mechanical upgrades as well as a towing package.

All Rangers carry a basic 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

How much is a Toyota Tacoma?

Toyota offers a wider range of models for the Tacoma. The models include the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. 

The base Tacoma costs about $33,000. It includes cloth upholstery, power features, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Four-wheel drive costs $3,200 more and the crew cab/short bed combo adds $2,200.

We like the $39,195 4×4 SR5 Double Cab with the long bed—or the TRD Sport, which for about $48,800 gets the hybrid drivetrain and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, as well as options for a sunroof, cooled synthetic leather seats, and a towing package.

The $65,985 TRD Pro and its off-road hardware also come with a 14.0-inch touchscreen, heated and cooled front seats, 18-inch wheels, and premium audio.

The Tacoma has the same warranty as the Ranger, but Toyota includes two years/24,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance.

Advantage: Toyota Tacomas price out lower—but the wicked Ranger Raptor has no direct rival.

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

2024 Ford Ranger Raptor

Ranger vs. Tacoma performance

  • The Tacoma now offers hybrid performance

  • The Ranger has a strong turbo-4 or turbo-6

  • The Ranger outpoints in towing and payload

The Tacoma’s base 2.4-liter turbo-4 and its 228 hp offer plenty of power for a midsize truck, whether equipped with the 8-speed automatic or the 6-speed manual. They’re a massive upgrade over the puny 159-hp inline-4 in last year’s Tacoma. An uprated version of the engine checks in at 270 to 278 hp; it’s offered in higher-spec trucks. Though it clatters with diesel-like noise and vibration, it’s teamed (mostly) with a whip-smart automatic transmission and great throttle and brake tuning. 

With a hybrid motor and battery system grafted on, the Tacoma makes 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, great for towing and off-roading applications—but in the end, not a huge differentiator in fuel economy, which peaks at 23 mpg combined.

The base Ranger comes with a 2.3-liter turbo-4 that makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which bests the base Toyota engine. It also uses a more modern 10-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly but can hesitate to find the perfect gear. A 2.7-liter turbo-6 spins out 315 hp but 400 lb-ft, a boon to those who need to tow. The Raptor’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 throws off 405 hp, enough to vault it to the top of the ranks among all these trucks.

The Ranger can also tow 7,500 pounds, beating the Tacoma by 1,000 pounds in its optimal configuration. And it has a trailer-backup assist that works like a video game. The contest is closer in payload capacity, where the Ranger can haul up to 1,805 pounds in its bed, while the Tacoma tops out at 1,710 pounds.

Both trucks use rear leaf springs and solid rear axles that create choppy rides in lower-end models. The Ranger’s improved Raptor suspension doesn’t relieve the trucky feel of the other versions—but Toyota swaps in coil springs and a multi-link rear suspension on all Double Cab versions for a much more composed ride.

Advantage: Ranger for power, but the Tacoma Double Cab rides more smoothly.

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter

Ranger vs. Tacoma off-road and 4×4 systems

  • The Tacoma has more off-road-oriented models

  • The Ranger Raptor has landed

  • Both have part-time four-wheel drive available

The Ranger offers a part-time four-wheel-drive system and a pair of packages for those who want to go off-roading. The Raptor gets a full-time setup with a 2-speed transfer case. It also has Fox shocks, 17-inch wheels with 33-inch all-terrain tires, electronic locking differentials front and rear, and a Watts link rear suspension with coilovers for better body control at Baja speeds. So blessed, it’s an amazing, entertaining off-road specialist—quicker than anything in the Tacoma family.

The Tacoma also offers a simple part-time four-wheel-drive system, as well as three off-road-focused models and a full-time system on its hybrid Limited editions. Additional off-roading equipment includes a locking rear differential, several traction control modes, and a low-speed crawl feature that keeps the truck moving in a controlled manner in tight or steep off-road situations.

The TRD-Off-Road sports 11.0 inches of ground clearance, 32-inch all-terrain tires, and an available sway-bar disconnect setup. The TRD Pro gets its own more substantial skid plates, a taller ride height, and its own Fox shocks, along with Mud, Dirt, and Sand drive modes—while the Trailhunter can be fitted with a longer pickup bed, the slow-going rock crawler to the TRD Pro’s higher-speed off-road cruiser.

Advantage: Toyota Tacoma for variety, the Ranger when in Raptor spec.

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

Ranger vs. Tacoma size, bed space, and seating

  • Ranger has more rear seat space

  • Tacoma offers longer, larger bed

  • Ford offers only one bed length

How big is the Ford Ranger?

The Ranger comes only as a five-seat crew cab with a 5-foot bed. Inside, it’s marginally larger than before, with almost one more cubic foot of space. It’s fine in front, with softly padded seats and good small-item storage that includes a dual glovebox on top editions and deep door pockets on all. In the rear, the vertical seatbacks and a narrow body limits its utility for those five passengers. Four will do better, and with 34.6 inches of rear-seat legroom they fare a little better than they might in the Tacoma.

That bed has gained some interior width: it’s now 48.2 inches so that it can carry plywood sheets. While it doesn’t have a trick tailgate like its F-150 kin can, the Ranger’s tailgate builds in a ruler and bottle openers, and the bed has six clamps and fender steps for utility. 

How big is the Toyota Tacoma?

It can be had either as an extended-cab or as a crew-cab truck, with a 5-foot or 6-foot bed, depending on the model. The front seats in both versions have more than enough space—and the passenger space has been laid out in much more comfortable proportions. The old Tacoma legs-out seating position is long gone. Seat comfort in front has improved and small-item storage ranges from dash-mounted storage bings to door and console Molle pockets. 

However, the rear seat in the Tacoma’s extended-cab Xtracab is best left to dogs or packages. Double Cabs fare much better, with 33.7 inches of rear legroom, but that’s slightly less space than in the Ranger. The rear seatbacks still have a more vertical angle than we like, but fold up to create more usable storage thanks to a longer wheelbase.

The Tacoma’s 6-foot bed actually measures in at 73.5 inches of interior length; the 5-foot bed overperforms as well, with 60.3 inches of space. The Tacoma offers the usual host of accessories, from bed liners to power outputs—as well as a quick-release tailgate feature.

Advantage: Tacoma.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

Ranger vs. Tacoma styling

  • Ranger has slightly softer styling

  • Tacoma more squared off and upright

  • Both go all-in on big digital displays

In both cases, these trucks have styling that’s clearly inspired by full-size trucks. 

The Ranger has slab sides and curved wheel flares like the F-150, but it’s more restrained with some curves in place of blockier elements. It’s gone all-in, though, on the bigger truck’s C-clamp headlights and grille. Inside, the Ranger has a new dash with big digital displays and a no-fuss grade of interior materials. 

Meanwhile, the Toyota is blockier, with more angular body panels and a much chunkier stance than before. Leaning on the brand’s vintage HiLux trucks, the new Tacoma gets a tall front end with a blocky grille and lots of overstated details. Somehow, it all works—better than the interior, we think, which has chunky control dials and big digital displays, but lapses in its most expensive models into very artificial-looking plastic trim.

Advantage: The Tacoma.

2024 Ford Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger

Ranger vs. Tacoma safety

  • The IIHS gives the Tacoma a Top Safety Pick award

  • Automatic emergency braking comes standard on both

  • Neither has NHTSA test scores

How safe is the Ford Ranger?

The Ranger doesn’t have any published crash-test data yet. It comes with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and active lane control. Adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and blind-spot monitors can be fitted to some models—but not Ford’s adept BlueCruise hands-free driver assistance. 

How safe is the Toyota Tacoma?

The Tacoma earns a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, but the NHTSA hasn’t checked in on it. 

Toyota outfits every Tacoma with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitors and a surround-view camera system are options where not standard on some trims.

Advantage: The Tacoma has more standard safety features.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

Which is better: Ranger or Tacoma?

Last year’s close race has become a romp for the Tacoma. We give the Ranger a TCC Rating of 5.6 out of 10—but the Tacoma scores a 6.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.) 

Why? The Ranger has good interior space and strong powertrains, but only one bed size and less comfortable seats. The Tacoma offers more off-road variety, vastly improved interior comfort, and hybrid powertrains. 

Winner: The Tacoma.

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