A Rivalry Renewed for 2024: The Toyota Tacoma vs Ford Ranger

November 10th, 2023 by

A white 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a dealer that has a Toyota Tacoma for sale.Competition brings out the best in us. You can look across the auto industry to see this principle in action twenty times over, but one rivalry that doesn’t get discussed much is that of the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. Both midsize pickups helped establish the segment of efficient, practical workhorses, and both have fostered their own legacies.

The Ranger—which debuted for the 1983 model year—was Ford’s answer to the imported trucks that were beginning to make their way to North America. On the other hand, the Tacoma—which arrived in 1995—was the American-born offspring of those imports. Both have seen their fair share of accolades and yet, even after all these years, are still neck and neck. Whether you’re a fan of the Ford Ranger or are looking for a Toyota Tacoma for sale, we’d like to compare them and hopefully put this rivalry to bed once and for all.

Under the Hood

For most truck owners, performance is the critical factor in determining their final choice. For the Ford Ranger, you’ll have three powertrains to weigh. The base 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo I-4 will get you 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque; of the two engines available for upgrade or standard on higher trims, the 2.7L EcoBoost Turbo V6 will get you 315 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.0L EcoBoost Turbo V6 will get you 405 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. All three engines are mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission—the same one used in the F-150.

At first glance, it might appear that Toyota is following the example of Nissan by streamlining the production of their trucks with a single powertrain. Well, appearances can be deceiving. The powertrain that comes standard on the Tacoma can be customized in three unique setups to cater to the lifestyle of its driver. This engine is a 2.4L i-FORCE Turbo I-4 that pairs with either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Toyota’s i-FORCE Turbo will get you between 228-278 hp, depending on your configuration, and between 243-317 lb-ft of torque.

The red interior of a 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is shown from the back seat.

Style & Interior

You only get one chance to make a first impression. At first glance, the 2024 Ford Ranger has the appearance of a typical pickup truck; for some, this is more than enough to satisfy, but we can’t help but feel somewhat unimpressed by the lack of expression that the Ranger offers. The Tacoma, on the other hand, has a considerable amount of personality across its exterior. A two-toned color scheme and stylish front end—complete with an aggressive front grill and uniquely shaped headlights—catch the eye immediately and lend a level of aesthetic to this truck that’s been missing in recent years.

But because one should never judge a book by its cover, it’s only fair that we take a look behind the wheel and see how these two brands have furnished the interiors of their respective offerings. For the 2024 Ranger, there’s actually quite a bit to its interior worth mentioning.

Ford has attempted to bring its rough and ready Ranger into the modern age with digital designs that endorse today’s best automotive technology. Anchoring it all is an infotainment screen that extends 10.1 inches, though a 12.0-inch vertical screen is available. As is expected, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, and we were impressed with this model’s digital gauge cluster. Above all else, the interior of the Ranger places considerable emphasis on practicality, and its tangible features are well within reach.

The interior that Toyota gifts its Tacoma is somewhat similar to the Ranger, as it makes everything easy to find and within reach of the driver. The standard touchscreen is 8.0 inches wide, but the available upgrade—which spans 14.0 inches—is immaculate. Anchored atop the dashboard at eye level, it’s user-friendly, responsive, and promotes symmetry in the cabin. The Tacoma’s elevated seating helps provide maximum visibility when traveling—and visibility is paramount to safety.

Variety of Choice

Determining the right vehicle for your needs is the goal of all buyers, and no matter what truck you might be looking at, having a variety of choices is key. No auto class is more associated with versatility than the pickup truck, so having a bevy of choices within that segment is advantageous for shoppers. Fortunately, in both cases of the Ranger and Tacoma, there are multiple trim levels for different kinds of drivers.

The Ford Ranger comes in three traditional trims—the XL, XLT, and Lariat—each providing more features and amenities the higher up you go. For those who are partial to the world of off-roading, there’s a fourth option in the Ford Ranger Raptor; this trim is designed for the road less traveled and comes with a hefty price tag that not everyone can afford.

The Tacoma, on the other hand, has twice as many trims and multiple affordable off-roading ones. For the economical driver, the base SR and SR5 base trims are more than ideal. The TRD Off-Road and Trailhunter trims are the Tacoma’s off-road-ready options, and the TRD PreRunner and TRD Sport are likewise excellent for performance. If you want the most lux Tacoma, you’ll want to go with the Limited.

Driver Assistance

No matter what you’ll use your pickup truck for, you’ll want to be driving knowing that you’re safe. When it comes to the driving assistance features offered by both brands, the question isn’t necessarily one of “how much is available” but “what’s standard” and “what else is obscured by a price tag or trim.” This is the fundamental difference between the 2024 Ford Ranger and the 2024 Toyota Tacoma.

There are a number of safety features that the Ford Ranger can be outfitted with; unfortunately, very few of them come standard. While such advanced features as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control can all be harnessed, they cost extra. Of the features that do come standard, the only ones we were impressed with were forward collision warning and automated emergency braking, which are rather ubiquitous in today’s market.

The Tacoma carries on Toyota’s practice of offering more across the board. An adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and lane-keeping assistance are all standard and offer drivers complete peace of mind. With an inclination toward maximizing your dollar, the 2024 Tacoma is the clear-cut best midsize truck for those who prioritize safety.

A green 2024 Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter is shown from the rear at an angle.

The 2024 Tacoma Awaits You Here at Marietta Toyota

While both models have their advantages, this is one more case of Toyota proving they have their finger on the pulse of the consumer. Not only is the 2024 Toyota Tacoma a masterclass in joining style, safety, and utility, but its powertrain can easily be fitted to meet the needs of any driver.

With so many automakers limiting their lineup, it’s a relief that Toyota still goes above and beyond expectations—and we here at Marietta Toyota uphold the same ethos, dedicated to doing more than the status quo for our customers. With an impressive selection of vehicles and a team that can help you choose what works best for your needs, we provide the ultimate buying experience. Visit us today and see the difference for yourself.