Mid-Size Matchup: How Do Class Leaders Colorado and Tacoma Compare?

Colorado_Tacoma_1

By Jim Travers

The Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma could be said to reside at opposite ends of the mid-size pickup truck class even though they lead the rest of the pack in sales. While the Colorado and its GMC Canyon counterpart are, at least for now, the newest entries in a growing class, the Tacoma is the oldest — the nameplate goes back to 1995, and the truck bearing the name has been in production since the 1970s.

Mid-size pickups are an admittedly small class. The only other body-on-frame choice currently available is the Nissan Frontier. But Ford will reenter the fray in late 2018 with a resurrected Ranger and Jeep is also scheduled to enter the mid-size class. Of course, there is also the Honda Ridgeline, which is a fine vehicle, but we're talking about traditional work-first pickups here.

We've spent some time in both the Colorado and Tacoma; below we share how we think they stack up next to each other.

How They're Different

Back-to-back drives in the Colorado ZR2 and Tacoma TRD Pro trim levels illustrate what starting from scratch can do. While both are quite capable off-road, it's in day-to-day road driving that their differences show. While the Tacoma has received regular updates over the years, it remains true to its old-school roots and will feel oddly familiar to anyone who drove a Toyota pickup in the 1980s or '90s. That's a polite way of saying the Tacoma is decidedly "traditional," in spite of a mild refresh in 2016.

The Colorado is quieter and more civilized on the highway, with a relatively smooth ride and good bump absorption even in off-road trim. The steering is more accurate, with decent road feel. The body of the Tacoma, on the other hand, seems to be in constant motion — even on smooth pavement. It jitters and hops over all kinds of roads and the ride is stiffer than the Colorado. Its steering is more vague and lacks feel, and more correction is needed to keep it on course.

The interior of the Colorado benefits from a roomier and more modern-looking cab, with a much better seating position. You sit low to the floor in the Tacoma, particularly for a truck. This feels particularly awkward in the TRD Pro trim, where it's a bit of a step up to get inside. The Colorado's seating position is higher and more upright, and the seats themselves are more supportive with better bolstering. It also has a roomier and more comfortable rear seat.

Colorado ZR2 interior_3

Tacoma_TRD_Pro_interior_4

How They're Similar

Neither cab could be described as luxurious, not that most buyers probably care. Both have plastics and materials that lean more toward utilitarian than fancy, even when compared to some upper-trim full-size pickups. Which is not to say either is commercial-grade spartan, as both include leather seats and plenty of amenities and electronic conveniences. We did prefer the multimedia system in the Colorado with its simpler menus and a tuning knob for easier operation.

In fairness to Toyota though, the Tacoma's ride on- and off-road performance may be improved for 2019 with the addition of new progressive Fox shocks (possibly similar to what's just been introduced on the 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor). And in the meantime, it is far from a bad choice. The Tacoma has a bulletproof reputation for reliability, along with established on- and off-road credibility. Discerning small-truck buyers and a loyal buyer base have kept it a best-seller for decades. But the buyer always wins when competition heats up and more choices are available. And that is just starting to happen with mid-size pickups.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears, Jim Travers

Colorado_Tacoma_2

Comments

Neither offers a regular cab.

the Colorado is a 10 year old design competing against a 15 year old design. The Colorado rides better.

Much prefer GM's V6 to the badly redesigned Toyota engine. They should have just kept the old 4.0 toyota motor, or at least offered buyers the choice.

I've had both, the Colorado overall is so much more modern. In fact we are taking it on a trip instead of the wifes 2018 GC Overland HA....

everybody is excited about the 2019 Ford Ranger
the 2.3 Eco-Boost at 310 HP and 355 Ft Lb Torque

Tacoma is a rust bucket with both front and rear axle problems and desperate needs an update
Colorado has tranny problems

As oxi wisely stated, this left leaning fake news site is at it again...

Not only do they favor the F-150 with full size trucks, now they favor the Coloraaaado among smaller trucks! And do not deny this!

This leftist site has favorable coverage of the Coloraaado, they think it is the first and best small truck ever. Sorry, but that is hardly the case as real world data proves otherwise like lowest cost of ownership and retention of value rest with the class leading Tacoma!

Get a clue leftist media!

Class only diesel? WRONG! Toyota offers diesels in their small trucks, no where does this article point to the U.S. market only!

Only e-locker in class? WRONG! Toyota has offered an e-locker since 1995, let me repeat, 1995, that would be 23 years ago! What took GM so long?

Now if the article stated e-lockers in both axles, that would be realistic, but they did not, thus fake news! And trust me, hard off-roaders do not place a locker in their IFS front ends, dumb idea that even the U.S. military does not do on their mega-off-road trucks!

Trick suspension? What is that? I would call Toyota's Hi-Trac suspension from the 1980's a trick suspension by running the T-bars to the upper a-arms and rear leaf springs above the axle allowing more ground clearance!

The class innovating 1995 Tacoma had coil sprung front suspension and it's 1990's TRD off-road offers were more trick back then! Bilstein's & Fox shocks not good enough?

Heck, Toyota offered a Pre-Runner back in the 1990's, talk about a cool truck nobody cared to offer, but Toyota did.

A step up? Toyota's have always been a step up when it came to ground clearance. They do not have lower rear shock mounts hanging so low, spare tires so low, heck the 1995 Tacoma still had more skid plates than the newer Coloraaaado's!

Give me a break l iberal media!

The Tacoma has been and remains the class leader when it comes to smaller trucks! They created this class by offering the industry first 4x4 back inn 1979, when GM could not even make their own 2wd truck without Isuzu!

Give me a break!

Boy BJ- go in your living room pet your Tonka Toyota, flip on Hannity, and by all means- take a deep breath.

Now Now, BJ, just cause a internet magazine site says 2 trucks that are not the make that you have, are better then yours, does not make it leftist. Like I mentioned above, I have owned both of the current models and the magazine is correct.
We are not talking back in the 70's thru early 20's we are talking current vehicles...

oxi,
Hate to break it you, but liberals are very pro-Toyota. Liberals hate GM and Ford trucks. You love only Toyota products and drive a Corolla as a daily driver and a Taco on the weekends. I guess that makes you the real liberal if you really think about it.

Educate yourself.

Well looks like another win for the Colorado! Great job GM building a truck that does great off-road but also allows the owner to enjoy it on the highway!!
All the articles I have read have always praised the Colorado. Especially the ZR2 model for its highway ride. Usually when you put bigger tires and ride height on trucks it hinders the highway drive, but these ZR2's have impressed all the magazines. Superb job!!

The second generation Colorados and Canyons are light-years ahead of the originals.

I hope GM will take a cue from Ford's 2.3 turbo and consider a similar approach for the 2.5 Colorado. V6 power in a lighter 4 cylinder package. AND keep offering a manual trans.

Like I mentioned above, I have owned both of the current models and the magazine is correct.

I'm really glad PUTC is not posting monthly sales any longer, this way we don't have to hear the usual pestering, whining and crying fanbois that can't comprehend basic math.


I'd still buy the Tacoma over the Colorado.

I hope GM will take a cue from Ford's 2.3 turbo and consider a similar approach for the 2.5 Colorado. V6 power in a lighter 4 cylinder package. AND keep offering a manual trans.


Posted by: papajim | Jun 6, 2018 4:20:53 PM

Just sit back and wait, history as shown they'll attempt this at the next redesign. They're waiting on Ford to proceed before proceeding.....cautiously.

I bought a Truck in Tacoma and drove it to Colorado.

Apparently 200k+ people disagrees with this story.

@ BJ

As with the other post from oxi, you must off-road with oxi, Leno and John Stamos at the railroad tracks?? Lol..definetly real off-roaders 😂

As always, leave it to Frank to mention sales...

Yes, a mid-sized truck must have a manual transmission. My manual '18 Colorado is very comfortable and capable, but I would trade it for a higher trim-level manual midsize offering.

#1 and #2 midsize off roading rigs. Together, they absolutely own that space. Bit late for a 3rd player.

Sorry Taco, you are fug-ugly. Colorado would beat you in looks alone, but also has the comfort and performance to seal the deal.
Taco had it's day.

@BA,

Thanks for proving my point. 👍

I agree with oxi!

I will be buying a Hilux tomorrow!

Thank you oxi!

You were making a point towards yourself? Lol, I'm never the one arguing sales, real men don't care who is #1 in sales! Like I said before, no matter the topic, all Frank has is his sales numbers..do you work at a dealership? 😂

Frank is the leader of the sissy sales talk

My Colorado gets 26mpg and has more torque than the Tacoma.

Go Tacoma

I wouldn't want either as they are no longer trucks. All the automotive writers seem to want to talk about trucks in terms of ride comfort and cab size and comfort at the expense of utility and the manufacturers listen to these clowns. That's why you can no longer buy a regular cab midsize truck with an adequate bed. You lose bed to extended cabs, more bed to crew cabs add a toolbox and a "fuel efficient" engine and what your $ 45-50k now gets you is a freakin car without a trunk lid...worthless! Bring back the overbuilt large displacement engine regular cab bench seat mid-size work truck please


Colleague has a 2016 Tundra crew cab 5.5' bed. Says now he has to get a trailer to tow his Harley Davidson. Said when he had a Dakota the bike would fit in the bed. Somethings Bass Ackwards. Go Full Size and he got less utility. Oops Axx Backwards. Chop a foot off the front end and add it to the bed. It's genius I say.

The 2016 Tacoma Limited I drive has serious driveability issues. Transmission is annoying, shifts constant. The 3.5 motor is a jerky mess to drive. Yes, I did the trans TSB...still shifts all the time and not smooth.

The F-150 Eco-Boost gets BETTER gas mileage than the Colorado and Tacoma
+ the F-150 hauls and tows MORE + has more POWER


If you can get a full size truck for the same price that has more power and better gas mileage you have to be really stupid to want a Colorado or Tacoma instead
( that's like buying a 6 pack of beer when you can get a 30 can case of beer for the same price )

The F-150 sales numbers prove that
I love my F-150 Eco-Boost


WHY WOULD ANYBODY OWN ONE ?

WHY WOULD ANYBODY OWN ONE ?
Have you priced out a loaded Colorado or Tacoma compared to an F150? Both the little trucks are $10-25K cheaper. The Taco will still have a better resale value. Laurels always win.

They don't make a truck for the woods anymore that's got the power and 4x4 to work. The manufacturers want to sell luxury instead of what really works. Who wants a truck that can't pull anything part of the problem is government and EPA.

Jeez... Is politics everywhere these days? Seriously, I'm so sick of the term "fake news". Just because you don't agree with someone/something/ an opinion, doesn't make it "FAAKE News". Sigh. Also, does everything have to be left/right?

Maybe I need to give Chevy another try, but I love my Tacoma! My 2006 Colorado, and my dad's 2011 Colorado we're both absolute trash. I loved the style of the Ext Cab Colorado, but hated owning it.

My 06 Colorado had the 5-banger engine. Not a V6, not a 4-cyl, and it was ridiculous. The heads started to wear at 70k miles, had rust on my dipstick, replaced the clutch at 75k (my Ford ranger cluth pasted to 183k miles) and that little Colorado was just full of rattles, cheap plastic, and faulty lights, bulbs, and brake light wires. I think I got like 6 recall letters on it. That 06 Colorado might have ruined Chevy for me.

As for my 2011 Tacoma, it's a joy. Rides great, looks good, has more power (TRD Off-Road 4x4) and has a thriving community. Easy cheap repairs, lots of how-to guides, etc. The only thing I've replaced in my 2011 Taco is the windshield fluid pump. Was $12 and 15 minutes.

A huge part of owning a vehicle isn't just how good it drives, feels, and looks inside. It's everything else you'll do for 4-10 years. On my Toyota the repairs are easy. All of them. That's if I even have a repair.. The Tacoma is just easier to own, maintain, modify, repair, and enjoy. That's my $0.02.

everybody is excited about the 2019 Ford Ranger
the 2.3 Eco-Boost at 310 HP and 355 Ft Lb Torque

Tacoma is a rust bucket with both front and rear axle problems and desperate needs an update
Colorado has tranny problems
Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | Jun 6, 2018 2:48:03 PM


So because you're "excited" about the 2019 Ranger, everyone else must be too? Everybody forgot that Ford was even working on a Ranger because it's been 4 years since word got out that Ford was bringing the Ranger back.

And Ford has NOT released HP and torque rating for the Ranger's 2.3EB. The power numbers you mentioned are based on power output of the Mustang's 2.3EB, which REQUIRES 93 OCTANE IN ORDER TO MAKE 310 HP AND 355 LB-FT. The Ranger's 2.3EB is either going to be detuned so it doesn't bust a nut trying pull 7000 lbs up a 7% grade, or it's going to have an *asterisk next to those power numbers and at the bottom of the add in the tiniest font Ford could get away with, it'll show "*Power estimated using 93 octane fuel". Just like the Mustang 2.3 Ecoboost. Just like the Focus RS 2.3EB.

We're shopping for a Colorado tomorrow.

I drove the Colorado and yes it is superior to the Tacoma by a long shot. I'm now a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 owner! Wow, what a impressive midsize pick up!!!

I drove the Colorado and yes it is superior to the Tacoma by a long shot. I'm now a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 owner! Wow, what a impressive midsize pick up!!!

@ ecoboost

These two trucks are for guys who stray off the highway...unlike you in your low clearance grocery getting F-150. Your ecobust probably hasn't even seen dirt over there in Pennsylvania lol

I have a 1995 Tacoma. I also have a new Ford Focus. The Tacoma is reliable and easy to fix. My Focus, while great to drive, is horrible to work on. Plus the engine blew at 65,000 due to LSPI. Ford offered zero financial assistance for a well known problem with direct injection engines. My Taco's radiator blew. $112 and a couple hours later I had it swapped in the driveway. Is it refined? No. Bells and whistles? No. Gimmicky nonsense? No. Fun to drive? Yes! If the new Tacoma's retained any of that DNA I'd be fine with owning a new one.

Why do magazine reviews never talk about things a mechanic actually cares about like is it actually a reliable design that's easy to repair?

Lots of people have said it, this category is dominated by reputation. Chevy built a crappy truck in the early 00' and left the market completely. I have driven both trucks since 2016 and prefer the Colorado, only wish I could get it in a manual 6 speed.

@ecoboost have you tried to park a f150 anywhere ? The extended midsizers are the second size as my 1978 swb Dodge d150. The fullsizers turn my 2 car garage into a 1 car.

It will take years of chipping away at the taco for gm to beat it.

And the people who want the 2.5 4cyl need to get the 4.6 v6 first. I love this 2018 v6 with the 6 speed auto. I hauled 2100 lbs of sand in my. Lwb single cab wt yesterday and the trans and water temp never batted an eye. The brakes got my stopped. But definitely felt some sway from the suspension

I have always been a 'Ford Guy', owning F-150's and Rangers and bought my first Toyota Tacoma in 2016 as a 'purpose truck' for Hurricane season and Wow, I was impressed. Now I knew I choose the right vehicle. Love it

Here we go again, more leftist trash media to make the Colorado better than the Tacoma because the Tacoma outsells the Colorado about 2 to 1, so the fake news media makes new categories to justify the Colorado is better, but nobody is listening!

Sales only prove this!

If you are a female, you buy the Colorado so you can feel comfortable and have all of your cell phone gadget's.

If you are a male, you buy the Tacoma because you want a tough, rugged and reliable truck!

It's that simple!

The leftist media has to highlight comfort and cell phones gadget's to make the Colorado somehow better while ignoring the toughness of a truck which favors the Tacoma!

And then que in all of the social justice warriors that will chime in more fake news that the Tacoma is a bad truck.

Yeah, those that are awake know how social media works and distorts reality and the truth!

Their is a reason why more citizens line up to buy a Tacoma than the Colorado, something not even the leftist media can understand!

My 2016 SR Tacoma 4x4 has over 32,000 miles and no issues whatsoever, a great and solid truck to run my 65-gallon water tank to my land with, load my 42 inch tractor mower that fits like a glove in the bed to cut the lawn and all of the other duties I throw at it taming mother nature on my 3 acres of rural land.

And the fact that I can slap better 265/75/16 tires on without any mods is a plus, something you cannot do with a standard Colorado, and not bad for just a $26,000 sticker price!

Tacoma is a better truck short and long term!

@Oxi

Are you less than 5 feet 10? The average guy under six feet talks like you. Anybody over 6 feet is uncomfortable behind the wheel of the Tacoma for more than a few minutes.

AND, did you check out the latest Tacoma V6? It's like weak soup. Thin. Ordinary. Boring. No guts. Wimpy.

Other than that, Tacomas are great.

@ papajim

To Oxi, the Tacoma is king. He is living in the 1990's when Toyota mid size trucks were superior. Its not the case now. The new Colorado is superior to it in every way! The only talk he had is sales.

I've seen a pic that oxi posted of himself standing next to his olf 2wd Tacoma. He seems pretty short. 5' 3" maybe.

They don't make a truck for the woods anymore that's got the power and 4x4 to work. The manufacturers want to sell luxury instead of what really works. Who wants a truck that can't pull anything part of the problem is government and EPA.


Posted by: d-sommer@hotmail.com | Jun 7, 2018 12:24:48 AM

Power Wagon, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slncjmTY-WI

Yeah oxi is a short man. That's why he loves the Tacoma.

You were making a point towards yourself? Lol, I'm never the one arguing sales, real men don't care who is #1 in sales! Like I said before, no matter the topic, all Frank has is his sales numbers..do you work at a dealership? 😂


Posted by: BA | Jun 6, 2018 7:34:26 PM

Let me guess, real men like you would cry and moan about being .1 tenth slower/faster all day, some man you're. fvckoutt@h3re

@ Frank
Anything you post is pointless and off topic..I think everyone would appreciate if you get the "fvckoutt@h3re".

Go cry to your mamma.

and Frank shows up



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