The 2021 Toyota Tacoma Makes for a Great Cheap Brand-New Pickup Truck

Some new pickup trucks can easily fly under the radar as luxury vehicles. However, it’s safe to say that most buyers don’t have $50,000 to spend on a luxury truck. That’s where the 2021 Toyota Tacoma comes in as one of the cheapest brand-new pickup trucks you’ll actually want to own. To keep the price as cheap as possible, we’ll exclusively be looking at the base SR trim level.

What makes the base model a compelling buy?

A silver 2020 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck parked on display
Toyota Tacoma| Toyota

As standard, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR is powered by a 2.7-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine developing 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a six-speed automatic. While all-wheel drive is available, the absolute cheapest Tacoma has to make do with rear-wheel drive. Thankfully, even the base model includes a limited-slip differential. Despite only having a four-cylinder engine as standard, the Tacoma’s 3,980 curb weight makes it reasonably light for a pickup truck.

According to Toyota, you’ll get an Access Cab configuration with seating for four and a six-foot bed as standard. Thankfully, the Tacoma’s suspension is largely the same across its various trim levels except in the range-topping TRD Pro. Coil springs with double wishbones and a stabilizer keep the front in check while a traditional leaf spring setup suspends the rear. On top of that, the Toyota Tacoma utilizes a body on frame design, which gives it excellent ground clearance and flexible chassis.

A 7-inch touchscreen comes standard

2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade interior
2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade interior | Toyota

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Despite being a base model, the Toyota Tacoma SR still offers a couple of compelling interior features. For starters, a seven-inch touchscreen comes standard. Aside from including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the infotainment screen also offers Amazon Alexa connectivity. You’ll also be able to stream your audio via Bluetooth to a six-speaker audio system.

The interior trim is where the Tacoma’s affordable base price becomes very apparent. As you’d expect in a cheap pickup truck, most of the interior trim is plastic. The seats themselves are covered in fabric and are manually adjustable. Sadly most of the desirable interior upgrades are reserved for the higher trim levels. However, if all you’re looking for is a cheap pickup truck, these won’t make a huge difference.

The Toyota Tacoma’s $26,150 base price isn’t the cheapest option

2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is on display at the 111th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Raymond Boyd via Getty Images

The Toyota Tacoma SR and its $26,150 starting price is advertised as the lowest priced option available. However, the 2021 Tacoma has an ace up its sleeve. In the available packages section, an option called the Utility Package actually cuts $1,175 from the Tacoma’s base price. With the package selected, the Tacoma actually starts at $24,435. To reach that lower price, the Utility Package takes the Tacoma to a truly baren state.

For starters, the rear seats, rear speakers, and even the rear cupholders disappear. Not even the rear window safe, given that it loses its ability to roll down. You’ll also be saying goodbye to the color-matched bumpers and door handles. Instead, the Tacoma Utility Package gets black paintless front and rear bumpers.

As far as cheap trucks go, the Tacoma is an excellent contender. There’s a lot to like here, from its capable chassis and suspension to its decent standard interior features. The cheap Tacoma you should buy is the SR. Only go for the Utility Package if you’re planning on using it as a work truck. For the cash, it’s worth having the extra seats, speakers, and color-matched bodywork.