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Two Toyota pickup trucks, a green and a blue 2021 Toyota Tacoma, are parked on grass in front of a hill.

Why a Toyota Pickup Might Be the Best Value Truck

When it comes to buying a car, there’s a big difference between price and value. While the price is basically just the sticker tag plus fees, a car’s value is a ratio of the price vs. the quality of what you’re buying. For example, a very cheap secondhand car from an independent seller might fetch at a very low price, but the car could be so old and in such poor condition that you’re likely getting very little quality for your money; that’s a bad value. When it comes to car buying, Toyota pickup trucks might just offer supreme value. Why? Because you’re getting great quality at an affordable price – even when you buy new.

There are plenty of affordable pickup trucks out there, but when it comes to great value, Toyota’s truck lineup just might reign supreme. Look to the skillful balance between functionality, great style, interior comfort, driving performance, fuel economy, a variety of exciting upgrades, and other benefits – all at a price that’s well within the average American’s car shopping budget. Read on for details about Toyota’s pickup trucks and some pitfalls to avoid if you want to find the best-value truck available near you.

Two Contenders

Toyota has two current truck models: the Tacoma and the Tundra. Some other automakers have several different truck models – Ford has at least five coming in 2021 – but Toyota’s choice to focus on two models means it can focus its engineering and design prowess on releasing high-quality trucks. Their first offering, the Tundra, is a tough full-size work truck, while the Tacoma is a fun midsize off-roader.

The current Tundra has been around for years now; in fact, it’s one of the longest-running truck designs in the auto market. However, its enduring popularity has assured Toyota that its fanbase isn’t going anywhere. Meanwhile, the Tacoma is a relatively newer design with a younger, more free-spirited customer base. Fans of the Tacoma stuck by this truck even when other manufacturers were discontinuing their midsize models for poor sales, and newer models like the 2021 Tacoma continue to deliver on Toyota’s promise of crafting an everyday vehicle that shines when you take it off the beaten path.

When shopping for a Toyota truck, it’s essential to keep in mind which type of driver you are. After all, great value depends on you getting what you want for your money. Are you looking for a family vehicle or a beefy work truck designed to endure tough jobs? If so, the Tundra is a great investment. Do you want a more compact and adventurous pickup designed for off-roaders or young singles? Then the Tacoma is right on the money. Take a closer look at these vehicles, including the latest from the 2021 editions, to decide which one might be a good buy.

A grey 2021 Toyota Tundra is shown from the side on an urban bridge at night.

The 2021 Tundra

Built for everyday versatility, the latest Toyota Tundra is a dedicated tower and hauler, as well as a versatile family vehicle. Its V-8 engine produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, with which it can tow up to a powerful 10,200 lbs and carry up to 1,730 lbs of payload. Take your truck to work and let it do the heavy transporting it was designed for, or hook up an RV and take your family out on the open road. Thanks to a roomy cabin, even the base model feels perfect for family drives – and the extra interior cargo space doesn’t hurt, either. Add on the available locking storage unit in the 2021 Tundra’s bed for even more secure storage.

Even the base SR and SR5 trims of the 2021 Tundra include Toyota Safety Sense technology standard, which adds smart safety features to improve your drive. The Limited trim adds LED lights, accent lights, tough-looking 20″ alloy wheels, and Toyota’s Smart Key system – all of which are also found on the Nightshade special edition. The Platinum trim has a specially designed interior with heated and ventilated seats and fine leather detailing, as well as automatic dual-zone climate control and a premiere audio system. As for the higher-end trims, consider the 1794 edition, which includes a vintage-style ultrasuede interior lined in fine wooden accents.

What if you enjoy all of the benefits of a Tundra but also want off-road capability? The TRD off-road package adds trail-tuned Bilstein dampers, tow hooks, underbody protection, and improved driving performance in dirt, mud, snow, and sand. These perks make your Tundra safe and practical – as well as thrilling to drive. The features of this off-road package are already incorporated into the TRD Pro trim, which also adds even more upgrades like stabilizing Fox shocks, special fog lights, and dedicated off-road wheels and tires.

You can even add features to the built-in infotainment system, so you have all the practical and entertainment needs at your fingertips. The 2021 Toyota Tundra also comes in two optional cab sizes and three bed lengths, so it’s easy for you to customize a Tundra for your exact family or working needs. The 2021 Toyota Tundra is a pickup that’s certainly worth the investment, especially when you fine-tune it to your exact needs.

2021 Toyota Tacoma

A green 2021 Toyota Tacoma is off-roading in sand.

As sporty and rugged to drive as its aerodynamic body looks, the Tacoma is a more compact and off-road-hardy alternative to the Tundra. It’s stylish too, with available black overfenders, an improved infotainment system with smartphone compatibility (even in the base model), and a WiFi hotspot. Overall, it’s the younger and more energetic of the Toyota trucks.

The available V-6 engine is quick and responsive and improves its towing power to a respectable 6,800 lbs. While the Tundra is the better dedicated tower, decent towing power is valuable for any pickup truck. The 2021 Tacoma’s compact cabin is more lightweight and keeps the truck fun to drive, while available interior upgrades empower any Tacoma shopper to customize their experience.

There are tons of trims available in 2021. Highlights include the TRD Sport, which includes a premium sound system and navigation upgrades, and the Limited trim with its more streamlined and modern interior design. If you want improved off-road capability, the TRD Off-Road package is also available (also, be sure to upgrade to 4×4 for improved control and handling in most conditions). Meanwhile, top of the line TRD Pro trim of the 2021 Tacoma has beefy tires, outstanding shock absorbers, lifted suspension, and multi-terrain driving modes that make this the best off-road truck in its price range.

Best of all, there are plenty of safety features available in the 2021 Tacoma – even the base model – which makes it the perfect truck for young drivers. Of course, advanced safety and driver-assist features don’t hurt anyone, especially if you upgrade to the Technology package with souped-up safety features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. A Tacoma is ultimately the perfect 2021 pickup for younger drivers, as well as anyone who has maintained their sense of adventure.

Good Value

Toyota is one of the top truck brands out there, so there’s no way to go wrong with a Toyota Tundra or Tacoma. If you want the best value out of your investment, though, be sure to find the most appropriate trim and packages that meet your needs. As with home shopping, car shopping rarely guarantees that you’ll find every must-have on your list, but the right Toyota pickup might get you as close as possible without going over budget.

Used or certified pre-owned Toyota trucks may not have all of the new and exciting features of the 2021 Tacoma or Tundra, but you still get reliable performance and a great-looking truck, no matter which year you select. However, do your research on every older Toyota truck you find – services like CARFAX and Kelley Blue Book can help you verify that you’re getting a good deal. However, with just about any Toyota truck, you’re very likely to get your money’s worth.