What’s the Best 2021 Toyota Tacoma Trim? Here’s Our Guide

As one of the longest-running midsize truck nameplates, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma has proven to be a popular choice among buyers for over 25 years. Unbelievably durable and blessed with one of the best color palettes of any vehicle, the Tacoma appeals to both hardcore off-roaders and daily drivers. With such a wide range of capabilities, it all comes down to which Tacoma is right for your needs. Have a closer look at our trim guide to see which 2021 Toyota Tacoma version you should consider.

2021 Toyota Tacoma SR Pros and Cons

The SR trim is what passes for “bare bones” in 2021, though the 16-inch steel wheels contribute most to this feeling. Even on this trim, which starts at just over $27,000, there’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity—a feature that’s also standard on the base Chevrolet Colorado but absent on the Ford Ranger. We also appreciate the three standard USB ports. V-6 models feature a standard Class-IV towing package with hitch, heavy-duty alternator, and upgraded cooling systems.

Too fancy? Opting for a special Utility package on the extended-cab, base-engine Tacoma SR drops the price by $1,715, deleting the rear seats, rear speakers, and paint from the bumpers and door handles, making it among the cheapest new pickups you can buy at $25,900.

Speaking of engines, although a four-cylinder model is available, we recommend you skip it in favor of the 3.5-liter V-6 for $2,260 more. With 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, it offers nearly double the power of the four-cylinder while delivering nearly the same fuel economy. RWD versions are rated at 19/24 mpg city/highway (versus the four’s 20/23 mpg), and 4WD starts at 18/22 mpg (19/22 mpg for the four). Either engine is available in Access Cab (two-door with swing-out rear doors) or Double Cab (full four-door) versions.

What’s also nice about the SR trim is that Toyota has outfitted it with a host of active safety features, including automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. On V-6-powered SRs, you even get dual-zone automatic climate control standard. If your needs begin and end with a basic truck, but you appreciate a sprinkling of tech, the SR trim definitely fits the bill.

2021 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Pros and Cons

Moving up to the SR5 trim will set you back roughly $2,000 more, but the upgrades also depend on which engine you choose. For example, V-6 buyers will receive an auto-dimming mirror and 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, while four-cylinder buyers make do with four-way controls on the driver’s seat. Only Double Cab V-6 versions feature a power-sliding rear window.

Both engine choices also benefit from a leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry, and a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen. Steel wheels are technically standard, but most versions of this trim will feature 16-inch alloy wheels in either black or dark gray.

Given the small price bump, the SR5 might be worth it for some, but remember that getting the V-6-specific features also means paying for the V-6 upgrade on top of the trim.

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport Pros and Cons

A manual transmission is a rarity these days; buyers who prefer to row their own should start their search here.

The “TRD” in TRD Sport stands for Toyota Racing Development, and like the other two trim levels with this designation, a six-speed manual is offered with the V-6. Automatic-equipped versions receive push-button start, while manuals retain a traditional key start. On the exterior, look for a hood scoop, 17-inch wheels, and a deck-mounted 120-volt power outlet.

Inside, the 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and auto-dimming mirror are now standard regardless of which engine you get, there’s a wireless charging pad, and the shift knob is trimmed in leather. In another curious split-feature offering, you’ll find dual-zone automatic climate control standard on automatic transmission models but optional on the manual versions.

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Pros and Cons

This is the trim MotorTrend evaluated in a recent comparison, and true to its name, the TRD Off-Road trim features electronically locking rear differentials and meaty all-terrain tires on 16-inch alloy wheels. Despite the taller sidewalls, however, we found the stiffly sprung ride to be disconcerting in everyday use. If you want a city runabout, look elsewhere.

We think the roughly $1,300 you’ll spend on these upgrades is only justifiable if you regularly take your Tacoma off-road; otherwise, the TRD Sport will suffice. That said, opting for the stick-shift version drops the price into decently optioned SR5 territory, a win-win for manual transmission fans looking for a deal.

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Pros and Cons

We’ve spent more time in the TRD Pro trim lately than any other model. Evaluating it on its own merits, we subjected it to a First Drive, then a more comprehensive review, and finally, a full-on test. The first thing to note is that the Pro costs a jaw-dropping $10,000 more than the Off-Road trim, so this version is for those who absolutely need an even more capable off-roader.

Part of that significant price increase can be attributed to the Fox internal bypass shocks, a 1-inch suspension lift, tougher front skidplate, front-facing camera, and throatier cat-back exhaust. We found the ride quality to be noticeably better in a recent comparison test, but getting that comfort requires a high cost of entry.

But much of the price bump has nothing to do with off-road capability. If the TRD Pro trim also didn’t tack on leather seats, an auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink, satellite navigation with a premium audio system, and a power sunroof, the jump from Off-Road to Pro wouldn’t be as far. We would appreciate the LED headlights for better night off-roading, but the costly additions get in the way of an otherwise capable package.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Limited Pros and Cons

Somewhat splitting the price difference between TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro, the Limited trim does away with serious off-roading capability in return for a more luxury-focused experience. Here you’ll say goodbye to the manual transmission options, but you’ll gain standard LED headlights, 18-inch polished alloy wheels, a 10-way power driver’s seat, leather seats, satellite navigation, power sunroof, and a premium audio system. Although these interior accoutrements are nice, we’re not sure if finding them in a Tacoma is the best way to appreciate them.

So Which 2021 Toyota Tacoma Trim Is Best?

Those who want an honest work truck need look no further than the SR or SR5, while the TRD Sport and TRD Off Road versions reward buyers who want a manual transmission and style. If it were our money, we’d skip the expensive trim levels. At its heart, the Tacoma is still a relatively unrefined workaday vehicle and shines best when used—and celebrated—in that manner.

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