The Most Cost-Effective Way to Option a Toyota Tacoma May Be To Buy a Tundra Instead

If you’re thinking of buying a Toyota Tacoma instead of a Tundra to save money, think again. While the base price of the Tacoma is considerably lower, adding options such as 4WD, a V6, and a four-door cab launches it into Tundra territory. What’s more, every 2022 Tundra comes with four doors and a fuel-efficient, twin-turbocharged V6.

How much does the Toyota Tundra cost?

Toyota’s Tundra is all-new for 2022, and it’s expensive for a full-size pickup truck. A Toyota Tundra SR will set you back at least $35,950. That said, Toyota’s dropped its cheaper two-door cab and entry-level engine option.

White Toyota Tundra pickup truck on an off-road trail.
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Toyota

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The 2WD Tundra does come with Toyota’s automatic limited-slip differential. But that may not be enough for your off-roading needs. If you want to upgrade your 2022 Tundra SR with a part-time 4WD system it will cost you $3,000, bumping the MSRP to $38,950.

In addition, the base model Tundra SR comes with Toyota’s small, four-door “double cab.” If you want an SR with the larger “CrewMax” cab you’ll also need to trade the 6.5-foot bed for a 5.5-foot bed and upgrade to the SR5 trim. This will still bump your 2WD MSRP to $42,805.

Finally, Toyota equips the Tundra SR with a detuned version of its 3.44-liter turbocharged V6 that only makes 348 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. If you want the towing and hauling capability of the full 389 horsepower/479 lb-ft engine, you’ll need to fork over at least $40,755 for the Tundra SR5.

Learn more about Toyota’s entry-level Tundra trims.

How much does the Toyota Tacoma cost?

Toyota advertises a $27,150 starting price for its 2022 Tacoma SR. This truck comes with 2WD, a two-door access cab with four seat belts, and Toyota’s 159 horsepower inline four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic.

Promo photo of a gray Toyota Tacoma parked in the desert.
2022 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

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Toyota’s top-trim Tacoma is its TRD Pro. This trim level starts at $46,585. And that might seem like a lot of money for a Tacoma, but if you begin to upgrade your entry-level SR, its price climbs quickly.

If you want 4WD it will cost you $3,075 dollars, bumping your MSRP to $30,225. Or, if you want four doors and five seatbelts, you’ll need to upgrade to a double cab. But you must also drop to a five-foot bed, so this option will only add $830, for an MSRP of $27,980. Finally, if you want more than 159 horsepower you’ll have to upgrade to Toyota’s 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 which is a $2,260 option, bumping your MSRP to $29,410.

You can have any one of these options while keeping your MSRP below $31k. But if you want all three: four doors, 4WD, and a V6, your MSRP will be at least $33,415. And that’s only $2,535 less than an entry-level Tundra SR. And here’s the kicker: upgrading to that Tundra SR gets you more space, a more powerful engine, and a better transmission.

Does owning a Tundra cost more than owning a Tacoma?

Some midsize pickup truck buyers may think they are selecting the most fuel-friendly option. But Toyota targeted efficiency with its latest Tundra, tossing its naturally-aspirated V8 in favor of a twin-turbocharged V6 and ten-speed automatic. The resulting full-size gets just 1 mpg less than the Tacoma in most configurations.

The interior of an all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck with a city skyline in the background.
2022 Toyota Tundra interior | Toyota

RELATED: 2022 Toyota Tacoma Failed to Win Consumer Reports Most Reliable Compact Truck

As a general rule, most maintenance bills for a full-size truck will be higher than for a midsize. Heavy-duty components in a full-size truck simply cost more to replace. In addition, we don’t yet know about the all-new Tundra’s reliability long-term. But with Tacoma sales dipping and Tundra sales increasing, its obvious that many Toyota truck buyers can’t ignore the new Tundra’s efficient design and competitive price.

RELATED: The 2022 Toyota Tundra Reveals How Dated 2022 Tacoma Trucks Really Are