The Ford Ranger Still Can’t Measure Up to the Toyota Tacoma in 2021

For several years, the midsize-pickup segment has proven lucrative to automakers. During this time, the Toyota Tacoma has established itself as an industry leader. Will the Tacoma continue to dominate now that Ford has re-released the Ranger? A recent comparison from Kelley Blue Book provides all the details. 

Ford Ranger specs

The newly reintroduced Ranger comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine that gets 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and as Kelley Blue Book notes, this is the only drivetrain available. Even so, the reviewers claim it’s more than adequate because the combination allows the pickup to “move with authority.”

Kelley Blue Book’s reviewers also gave the Ford Ranger high marks for its best-in-class payload and 7,500-lb tow rating. They also said it has plenty of high-tech infotainment and safety features available.

What they didn’t like about the Ranger was its limited number of bed and cab configurations. The 2021 Ford Ranger is available only with a SuperCrew or SuperCab, along with a long or short bed. The Toyota Tacoma, on the other hand, provides an astounding 33 model configurations, some of which even include a 6-speed manual transmission.

Toyota Tacoma specs

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Toyota gave its best-selling Tacoma an update for the 2020 model year. Part of that refresh involved upgrading technology to include features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Toyota Safety Sense — a suite of active safety features — is standard on all trims and includes adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

Unlike the Ranger, the 2021 Tacoma offers two engine choices: a base-model 2.7-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. According to Kelley Blue Book, the latter provides increased power and towing capabilities while still offering fuel economy similar to the 4-cylinder.

The 2021 Tacoma provides off-road capabilities through its TRD Pro platform. The Tacoma TRD Pro package includes features such as Hill Start Assist Control, Multi-Terrain Select, and Crawl Control to help you navigate even the roughest roads.

Similarities between the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger

Both vehicles come standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an available feature. The manufacturer’s warranty is the same for each pickup: a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty coupled with a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded both a four-star safety rating.

Fuel economy is nearly the same for both trucks as well. However, the Ford Ranger has a slight advantage. EPA ratings stand at 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway for the Tacoma, as opposed to 21 mpg/city and 26 mpg/highway for the Ranger.

The two pickups are nearly the same in width, overall length, and height. Even so, the Ford Ranger requires a turning diameter of 42.0 feet, while the Toyota Tacoma requires only 40.6 feet. This, of course, would be an advantage for anyone who regularly maneuvers in heavy traffic.

Kelly Blue Book’s reaction

Because the Ford Ranger was recently reintroduced, Kelley Blue Book’s critics thought it had a fresher, more up-to-date look with many modern technological features. But they also claimed that “despite getting on in age, the Toyota Tacoma continues to provide a wide variety of vehicles for most users, and with great reliability and resale value.” So despite the Ranger being a newer truck, Kelley Blue Book nonetheless preferred the tried-and-true Tacoma.

Newer isn’t always better

It’s true: Newer isn’t always better. Kelley Blue Book notes the Toyota Tacoma “continues its reputation for high quality, resale value, and reliability. The competition is fierce all of a sudden, but following a refreshing last year, the Tacoma still manages to hold its own.” It looks like the Ford Ranger will have to work harder if it wants to overtake the iconic Tacoma.