Some people only use their pickup truck to carry equipment around town, but others are interested in off-road capability. Whether you live in a rural area with a lot of unpaved roads or you like to spend your vacations camping and exploring the great outdoors, a tough truck that’s able to handle some rough terrain can be a game-changer. We’re going to take a close look at two trucks that bring a lot to the table: 2022 Chevy Colorado vs 2022 Toyota Tacoma. Both are built for adventuring and have a variety of trims and optional features to choose from, so let’s dive into the specifics.
Engine & Performance Metrics
When it comes to the standard engine on the more basic trims, both trucks come with a 4-cylinder option. The Colorado’s is a 2.5L that provides 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. The Tacoma’s 2.7L engine is similar, though not quite as powerful at 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. But if you’re serious about off-roading, it’s probably worth upgrading to one of the more powerful options. Toyota’s 3.5L V6 will certainly get the job done for most trails; with 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, it can accelerate nicely and provide good traction. However, Chevy’s 3.6L V6 is a step up, if only slightly, with 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque.
While horsepower is an important factor, it’s not everyone’s number one priority. If you care more about towing capacity and fuel economy, the Colorado’s available 2.8L turbo-diesel engine might be more up your alley. Its estimated MPG is an improvement over the 4-cylinder and the V6, and it brings the Colorado’s maximum towing capacity up to 7,700 pounds. The Tacoma doesn’t offer an equivalent, so if you prefer diesel, then the Colorado is the way to go.
Towing Power for When You Need to Bring Equipment Along
As we just mentioned, the Colorado has an impressive maximum towing capacity when properly equipped, which means getting the diesel engine and opting for Chevy’s Trailering Equipment package. But even if you forego the trailering package and choose the 4-cylinder or V6 engine, you’ll still be able to tow up to 3,500 pounds. The Tacoma SR with the 4-cylinder engine has the same maximum towing capacity, so if you’re looking at the more affordable trims, the two trucks are neck and neck. More powerful trims of the Tacoma max out at 6,800 pounds with rear-wheel drive and 6,500 pounds with four-wheel drive, so overall, we have to give this one to the Colorado, which just can’t be beat at a max of 7,700 pounds.
Cargo Space to Fit All Your Gear
The Colorado offers 41.3 cubic feet of bed volume in its short box or 49.9 cubic feet if you opt for the long box. The Tacoma comes close, but at 38 cubic feet for the short bed and 47 cubic feet for the long, it doesn’t quite match what the Colorado has to offer, and that might mean the difference between a perfect camping trip and one where you have to leave some of your equipment behind. Both trucks have a center console bin that allows you to keep smaller items on hand in the cabin, and if you get a model with a crew cab, the Colorado has a large compartment under the rear seat as well.
Infotainment & Technology to Add Flair to Your Travels
Both trucks have a 7-inch touchscreen on the most basic trim and offer an 8-inch screen if you upgrade to any other trim level. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included across all trims for both trucks, so it’s easy to use your smartphone for music, podcasts, or navigation while controlling everything through the truck’s interface. Both companies have also partnered up with tech giants in order to let drivers make voice commands. Toyota has available Amazon Alexa connectivity, while Chevrolet has Google built-in. Both allow you to control various apps and functions hands-free, so you can do so safely even if you’re driving alone.
One difference between the two, tech-wise, is that the Colorado has an available Wi-Fi hotspot while the Tacoma does not. If you want to have the option to use your laptop once you arrive at your worksite or campground, that gives the Chevy a leg up. The Chevrolet Infotainment System also has a variety of built-in apps, including The Weather Channel, Spotify, and NPR One, that make it easy to listen to news updates, music, audiobooks, and more on the go. Finally, the Colorado has available wireless charging, letting you power up your phone without having to mess with any cables.
Safety Features Are Still Important Off the Pavement
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave both the Tacoma and the Colorado a 4-star rating for the 2022 model year, so you can feel safe behind the wheel in either one. When it comes to driver-assistance features, both have a suite of high-tech sensors and alerts, though the Tacoma offers more of them as standard. For instance, forward-collision warnings and lane departure warnings are available on the Colorado, but come standard across all trims on the Tacoma, along with adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams.
Still, the Colorado does offer some features as standard. A rear vision camera is included in all Colorados, as is a Teen Driver mode that helps parents teach their teenagers to be responsible on the road. Trailer-sway control, which can sense when a trailer is swaying too much and automatically reduce engine power or brake in order to get the driver back in control, is also a useful feature that comes standard on the Colorado. Toyota’s trailer-sway control feature comes standard with most Tacomas but not those that use the base 4-cylinder engine.
What You Get at Higher Trim Levels
Many people opt for the more affordable trim levels, but if you’re enthusiastic about off-roading and have the means to upgrade, you’ll want to know what the very best versions of these trucks have to offer. First up, there’s the Colorado Z71 and the Tacoma TRD Off-Road. The TRD comes with 16-inch wheels, so the Z71’s 17-inch wheels are similar but slightly bigger. Both use a locking rear differential to provide extra traction in case you run into some mud, and both have a suspension package designed specifically for off-roading.
At even higher trim levels, we have the Colorado ZR2 and the Tacoma TRD Pro. Both offer increased ground clearance, so you can cruise right over rocky roads. The ZR2 features DDSV Multimatic suspension dampers, and the TRD Pro has Fox Internal Bypass Shocks, so you should be in for a smooth ride even when the trail gets bumpy, no matter which one you choose. If you do get stuck in a sticky situation and need a tow, the ZR2 has you covered with red recovery hooks that are easy to notice even if they get covered in mud; the TRD Pro doesn’t have this feature. And while the TRD Pro, like the TRD Off-Road, has a locking rear differential, the ZR2 has both front and rear locking differentials for improved traction.
Time to Take One of These Trucks Off-Road
While the Tacoma is a respectable midsize truck from a reliable brand, we have to declare the Colorado the winner of this matchup. It has a better range of engines to choose from, higher towing capacity across trims, and more to offer with its beefier upper-level models. Its bold exterior style and raw power make it a great choice for off-roading, and its smooth ride and modern infotainment features make it just as comfortable for driving around town. If you love a wild adventure in the great outdoors, the Colorado is calling your name.