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Are Tacomas Worth The Money?

You really want a Tacoma to have an awesome time with your friends in rough terrain, but you’re also wondering if owning a Tacoma is worth it the rest of the year. 

Are they really good for off-roading? 

Does it cost too much to refuel one? 

If you only use it for rough terrain one every few months, is it worth the monthly payments? 

Three things we’ll consider as we look at the Tacoma are cost, performance, and reliability.

Tacomas are worth the money as long as you need to use it for work, hauling, towing, etc. Tacoma’s are one of the most reliable vehicles on the road which makes it a worthwhile purchase for those who need a truck’s capabilities. 

Toyota Tacomas are not suitable for casual everyday use. Their low fuel economy and rough terrain features are insufficient for effective day-to-day highway driving. 

Rather, their high poundage torque and horsepower are better suited for contractors and people who need to tow or haul heavy loads, and their off-roading features are best suited for wilderness excursions.

As a vehicle owner, you understand that trucks are more than just large toys; there’s a lot you have to do to keep them. You’re already starting off strong by wanting to educate yourself on what it takes to own a Tacoma. 

If you want to learn useful information about what you need to know before buying a Tacoma, keep reading.

How Much Does A Tacoma Cost?

How much a specific Tacoma model costs will vary based on if you are buying new or used. The age and mileage of the vehicle, and what package and options are on the truck. 

Dealer Prices

A 2021 Tacoma ranges from $26,400 – $47,030 for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). The price depends on which of the six models you choose and if you buy them new directly from the dealership.

  • The Tacoma SR is the cheapest at $26,400
  • The SR5 costs $28,190
  • The Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Sport is $33,310
  • The TRD Off-Road is $34,565
  • The Limited is $39,155
  • The TRD Pro is $44,325

A used Tacoma bought from the dealership could cost almost as much as a new one depending on its age and condition. 

The costs of these Tacomas come from the features that they offer. Here are some of the features of each package

Keep in mind features such as the bed size have multiple options.


TRD Sport
TRD Off-Road
LimitedTRD Pro
2.7 liter inline 4 cylinder engine
2.7 liter inline 4 cylinder engine3.5-liter V6 engine3.5-liter V6 engine3.5-liter V6 engine3.5-liter V6 engine
150 horsepower
180 lbs of torque per ft.
150 horsepower
180 lbs of torque per ft.

278 horsepower
265 lbs of torque per ft.

278 horsepower
265 lbs of torque per ft. 
278 horsepower
265 lbs of torque per ft.

278 horsepower
265 lbs of torque per ft.
access cab
6ft bed
access cab
6ft bed
access cab
6ft bed
access cab
6ft bed
access cab
5ft bed
access cab
6ft bed
Main Tech featureRemote keyless system with panic functionsHill Start Assist Control (HAC)Auto-dimming rearview mirrorCompatible with Amazon’s AlexaBlindspot monitor system (BMS)BMS with rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA)
Payload1285 lbs1685 lbs1525 lbs1285lbs1345 lbs1440 lbs.

Tacoma Maintenance Costs

Tacomas are not known to have higher maintenance visits than any other brand of truck and RepairPal’s data shows the average annual maintenance cost is only $478.

To put that in perspective, a Ford F-250 Super Duty truck has an average maintenance cost of $1241.

But what about parts? Depending on the part you need the cost will either be nearly the same or significantly below competing brands.

For example, when comparing the cost of a front, left, and front shock absorber for the TRD Pro with a left, right absorber of a Hyundai Tucson, the Pro was cheaper by about $6. 

Motorask notes that maintenance for Toyota vehicles is so cheap because the replacement parts are inexpensive.

Tacoma Performance

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy for the Tacoma ranges from 17-20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 21-24mpg on the highway. The least economical model is the TRD pro with an economy of 17/21mpg, while the most economical is SR5 with 20/23mpg.


I touched on the power of the Tacoma in the table above but I didn’t talk about towing power. So here is each model’s top capacity with the tow prep package:

  • Tacoma SR – 3,500 lbs
  • SR5 – 3,500 lbs
  • TRD Sport – 6,800 lbs
  • TRD Off-Road – 6,500 lbs
  • Limited – 6,800 lbs
  • TRD Pro – 6800 lbs


This is where the Tacoma really thrives. It’s specially designed to handle rocks, ditches, mud and sand, moguls (hard snow mounds), and loose pebbles and gravel.

The cameras it’s equipped with don’t just show you what’s behind you, but also how much clearance you have on each side. The TRD Pro even has a camera within the grille!

With these features combined with FOX shocks for a smoother ride and the torque per foot Tacomas possess, you’ll make it out of the woods just fine. The TRD Pro is specially equipped with great off-roading features including

  • A skid plate to keep the undercarriage protected
  • LED headlights and Fog lights
  • Multi-terrain with crawl control
  • A high-quality fox suspension
  • 16-inch black alloy tires with Kevlar reinforcement
  • A hood scoop to increase airflow
  • 6-speed MANUAL transmission (available on all TRD models) which is useful in keeping the engine from overworking while on the highway.


With everyday driving on the road, this is not a fast vehicle. Its slow steering and lazy throttle response work marvelously with trail driving, but since it’s meant to be kept at a certain RPM (rotations per minute), it’s not great with traffic.

Tacoma Reliability

According to MotorBiscuit, which uses ConsumerReports, the reliability of the 2021 Tacomas falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. 

It’s not the most reliable option, but neither is it the least reliable. It’s average. Why is that, especially since the 2020 Tacomas had proven to be extremely reliable?

Reliability Through Tough Conditions

If the question about the Tacoma’s reliability is, “will it get me through harsh conditions,” rest assured that it was designed to do so, as mentioned.

Reliability with Age

According to the Car Care Nut, this is a very reliable vehicle as long as you keep up with basic maintenance like oil changes and tune-ups on time. Motor and Wheels agrees and praises the Tacoma’s reliability.

However, he also points out that these trucks are rather unforgiving if neglected and are harder to get back to an easily manageable truck.

They have common issues that, while not serious on their own, can compound into major issues.

For example, the Tacoma tends to have sub-oil leaks from the vacuum pump and coolant leaks.

Still, if you are willing to take this truck in for a few more maintenance trips, you can expect it to last between 200,000 and 300,000 miles.


The good news is Toyota is as confident about the durability of their trucks as Motor and Wheels is. The CarGurus report that Toyota will offer car buyers a basic warranty that offers coverage for 3 years or 36,000 miles, and a powertrain warranty that covers 6 years or 60,000 miles.

If this is your first car, then there’s good news because Toyota will provide ToyotaCare that offers 24-hour roadside assistance, no matter the miles, and free factory-scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles.

Final Thoughts 

If you are a frequent wilderness explorer or in a line of work that frequently handles oversized loads, you would definitely benefit from having a truck of this caliber. 

If you wanted a midsize truck just for the occasional outing or for tailgates, this might not be a practical option.