A green 2021 Toyota Tacoma is off-roading in a cloud of dirt after winning the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator comparison.

Toyota Tacoma vs Jeep Gladiator: Comparing Affordability and Performance

Rugged trucks are a symbol of the hard-working American spirit. Like the song God Bless America, the terrain in this country spans over mountains and prairies, and the best way to experience all that varied terrain is an off-road-ready pickup truck. Two of the most popular and capable midsize trucks to consider are the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator. But not only can these two machines take to the trails, they also provide you with the towing and hauling utility you need for your daily life. Equipment, feed, trailers, you name it, and a truck is what you need to get the job done.

It stands to reason that auto manufacturers have made a science of truck design. You can get just about any type of midsize or full-sized truck you need for any kind of job. Or maybe it’s just truck style that you like, but you want a comfortable, maybe even luxurious ride. No matter what the case, there is a model of truck out there for you. While there are lots of models to choose from, two of the most popular and capable midsize models for buyers to look at are the 2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2021 Jeep Gladiator.

A Price Tag That Won’t Break the Bank

Jeep has been manufacturing sport utility vehicles for over 80 years, but Toyota has been around for even longer, although its trucks didn’t make their way to America until 1964. Needless to say, Jeep and Toyota have both been in the truck building business for a while, and the Tacoma and the Gladiator are two of the most popular midsize models on the market. However, while both vehicles offer similar capabilities in their top trims, Toyota understands that not everyone needs a top of the line off-road machine and also offers the Tacoma in a variety of affordable configurations for the average driver.

While the Jeep Gladiator is just as capable as the Tacoma’s top trims, it lacks those base models and demands a heftier price tag. The Gladiator comes in at a starting price of $33,565 compared to the Tacoma’s starting price of just $26,150. Even the top-trim Tacoma TRD Pro will set you back $44,075 against the $51,765 price tag on the Gladiator High Altitude. Choosing the Toyota simply gives you more bang for your buck.

Further, not only is the Tacoma more affordable upfront, but it will also likely cost you less in the long run. The Gladiator is still an almost brand-new vehicle, and its long-term reliability is open to question. Meanwhile, the Tacoma has been on the market for decades, and its reliability is legendary. The long production run of the Tacoma also means that parts and service are likely to be more affordable and available should anything go wrong.

A red 2021 Jeep Gladiator is driving on a road past a corner and trees.

Two Different Styles

Any truck owner will tell you that owning a truck isn’t just about hauling heavy loads. Truck owners know that in the right truck, you can have both utility and style. If your truck is your main vehicle, then you take it everywhere, from the grocery store to the stockyard to a night out on the town. And you want a ride that is versatile in all those scenarios, which is why the look and style of a truck matters.

Most Jeep owners are familiar with the boxy style of the Jeep Wrangler, and you will get the same feel from the 2021 Gladiator. While over the years, Jeep’s SUVs have taken on a more rounded body style, the Gladiator still maintains the sharp angles of the original Jeep sport utility vehicles. Reminiscent of military-style vehicles, this is a taste preference for some consumers.

By contrast, the Toyota Tacoma has the smoother and rounder lines of a traditional pickup and will blend in better with the other vehicles on the road. Both trucks offer capable V6 engines for all the muscle you crave in a midsize truck, so you needn’t give up power for style. And as for the interior, the Tacoma also includes some tech upgrades such as Apple Carplay and Android Auto Integration so you can connect your smartphone. With soft interiors and roomy seating, this year’s trucks offer a level of comfort and convenience appealing to anyone in the market for a new vehicle.

Unique Look of The Toyota Nightshade

A black 2021 Toyota Tacoma Nightshade is parked on a city street at night.

One of the most interesting new developments with the Tacoma, though, is its new limited-edition series. While you can get the Jeep Gladiator in a variety of colors and styles, you aren’t going to find anything like the custom design of the Toyota Tacoma Nightshade. The new Gladiators come in a variety of different trim styles and colors, but none so eye-catching and dramatic as the new Tacoma Nightshade. The 2021 model is more than just a new paint job too, it has darkened wheels and trim, giving it a smoky black look. Everything from lug nuts to door handles have a black finish. It even has black mirror caps and black fog light bezels.

Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without interior black leather seating. This dark take on the classic truck is a nice surprise for truck buyers looking for something a little different this year. And if it’s exclusivity you want, it has it. You won’t find this in any other of their editions, because the Nightshade is built from the limited-edition luxury trims. The Nightshade series comes in three colors including Wind Chill Pearl, Midnight Black Metallic, and Magnetic Gray Metallic. It also comes with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It’s a bit pricier than the standard editions, but with only 5,000 anticipated to go into production, if you can get your hands on one of these limited editions, it’ll be worth the extra price.

Choose Your Pickup

This is a country that prides itself on doing great things. We work smart, we work hard, and a quality pickup truck is what allows many of us to make the most of our industrious nature. If you want a strong and dependable vehicle, but also one that won’t break the bank, that is where the Toyota really stands out. It has the ruggedness and dependability you’ve come to know in the Toyota brand, but it also has an affordable price. This truck holds up against the test of time, and owners know they can get a good price when it’s time to sell and upgrade to their next truck. In today’s world, that is the kind of value you want in a midsize truck.

With a fun new version in the Nightshade, on top of long-time fan favorites like the off-road-ready TRD trims, Toyota also knows that truck buyers want to look good and feel good in their truck. The Gladiator is a great performing truck with its own unique style, but it lacks the Tacoma’s long track record, and not every truck buyer wants to drive something that looks like it was built for a warzone. When it comes down to it, the Jeep Gladiator just can’t beat Tacoma’s combination of affordable price and legendary reliability. The Tacoma has been on the market for a quarter-century and has outlasted all of its competitors so far while continuing to offer adventurous performance for every driver.