The mid-sized truck has made a comeback in the past few years. People are wanting smaller trucks that deliver performance at a bargain price. The idea is that these down-sized workhorses have are more economical and less daunting than their full-sized counterparts. While that may be the perception, does this idea actually stack up to the reality?
Enter the Toyota Tacoma. This mighty little beast has been a mainstay in the Toyota lineup for decades now. Its peppy 3.5 liter V6 has plenty of juice (278 hp) to get it over sand dunes and pull some decent sized toys behind it to whatever destination desired. Its light weight, coupled with a 4×4 package, make it quite the capable off-roader. The fact that this vehicle has a substantially smaller engine and weighs significantly less than its big brother, the Tundra, means that it should cost less and gets better gas mileage, right?
This is the highest price Tacoma in my zip code according to Cars.com and you did read that price right, $48,983. Mid-sized trucks are definitely in demand and you can bet that some poor sucker out there is going to drop some serious dough to get this thing. It does not seem that long ago when $50,000 could buy a fully-loaded heavy-duty truck. While it may not be that long ago, those days are definitely done now but does the Tacoma at least offer some fuel-economy advantages that could make it more practical to own?
Well that answer seems to be no. A measly 3 mpg of improvement does not seem to be significant when considering the performance advantages the Tundra has over the Tacoma. And, for only about $1,000 more, you can purchase a 4×4 crew cab tundra. Significant increases in payload, towing, and even interior room makes the Tundra a clear cut winner in value over the Tacoma.
This begs the question, what is the advantage of having a mid-sized truck? I could only think of two reasons after deep contemplation and soul searching. 1) Mid-size trucks are easier to park. 2) Mid-size trucks are lighter and have some off-road performance advantages. Otherwise, they are mostly over-priced toys that look pretty cool. Their lack of performance in comparison to their full-sized counterparts are not congruent with their value. Couple this with the fact that they cost virtually the same as full-sized trucks and it just makes no sense to go that route. However, people are willing to pay loads of money for them because they have the appearance of being sporty and practical.
So, what are the options if you are interested in purchasing a truck with better fuel-economy?
It looks like full-sized trucks can offer better fuel economy than their mid-sized counterparts. Eco models from Ford and Ram tend to cost a little more money but they offer comparable performance scores in torque and hp as many V8’s in the industry right now. Basically, there is no excuse to go with mid-sized trucks anymore other than wanting to be a poser.