Pickup Truck Face-Off: Ford Ranger vs. Toyota Tacoma

These workhorses deliver full-sized truck capability without the bulk

Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma compact pickup trucks

Many compact pickup truck buyers want the ability to do serious towing and hauling, but in a package that’s maneuverable and easy to handle in daily driving. Both the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma compact pickups provide some of the same capabilities of larger full-sized trucks, but at a lower price. They're available in a few configurations with rear- or four-wheel drive and seating for up to five passengers. 

An all-new Ranger arrived for the 2019 model year, with standard advanced safety and driver assist systems as well as modern comfort and convenience features. It bears no resemblance to the small, outdated version last sold in 2011. The current Tacoma is older than the Ranger, having arrived as an updated model for 2016. Still, even the redesigned version isn’t very different from the truck it replaced.

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While both trucks have a number of similarities, there are key differences that consumers should consider. Read below to see how these compact pickup trucks fare in a face-off. At the end, we’ll crown a winner.

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Ford Ranger

The Case for It
If towing and hauling are your priorities, the Ranger is an acceptable alternative to a full-sized pickup truck. All Rangers use a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 270 horsepower on tap, there’s enough grunt to get pickup-truck jobs done. The XLT, the four-wheel-drive truck we tested, is rated to tow 7,500 pounds and has a maximum load capacity of 1,460 pounds. In comparison, a full-sized F-150 with the 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 engine can tow an impressive 12,700 pounds, but its maximum load capacity is just 55 pounds greater (1,515) than the more compact Ranger’s. Plus, the Ranger’s numbers are much better than the Tacoma’s towing and load capacity maximums.

The turbo engine and 10-speed automatic transmission work well in most situations. There’s enough power to move the Ranger from rest to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is much quicker than the V6-powered Tacoma we tested. The powertrain also returns 20 mpg overall, which is among the best of the nondiesel compact trucks. 

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