The Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner have been two of the most famous 4x4s for off-roading and overlanding in the US for decades.
They are reliable, capable, and cool – all good reasons for their popularity.
However, which one of the two suits you best? We find out in this Tacoma vs 4Runner head-to-head matchup!
Table of Contents
- Storage Space
- Comfort and Ride
- Which Should You Choose for Overlanding?
- Recommended Overlanding Gear
Tacoma VS 4Runner – Storage Space
As we all know, one of the most important attributes of an overland vehicle is storage space.
In the case of the Tacoma vs 4Runner debate, things are different.
As you know, the Tacoma offers a bed whereas the 4Runner a conventional trunk – both have their pros and cons.
You will be able to fit more gear in the bed of the Tacoma; however, you won’t have the security and weather protection you will have in the 4Runner when both trucks are stock.
If you install a bed cover on the Tacoma then you can have secure storage and a roof rack for a rooftop tent; however, this will cost a lot of extra money.
Payload will be better on the Tacoma as it is designed to haul weight.
If you are planning on using the Tacoma with a basic tray cover or just a bed rack, you also need to keep in mind that your gear will get dusty or wet; therefore, only stuff that can handle the weather can go back there.
Regardless of which one of the two vehicles you choose, a gear storage tray will help keep all your items tidy and secure.
One of the best options out there is the gear plate by Aiden James Customs. It is offered both for the Tacoma and 4Runner and is a great way to ensure every item stays secure when traveling.
As you can see above, a gear plate for a 5th-Generation 4Runner sets the foundation for an organized cargo area.
The plate installs in a matter of minutes without major restructuring of the interior of the vehicle. It can be installed directly to the floor for a static installation, or you can choose to have the plate mounted on slides for even easier access.
This gear plate allows you to mount all sorts of goodies, from kitchens and fridges to drawers and even a Pro Eagle jack. The plate also has tie-down points to secure wonky loads.
There’s T-nuts inserted into each hole in the gear plate to aid in easy installation of your specific gear and hardware, too.
If you opt for a Tacoma, Aiden James has you covered with a bed plate system.
Again, the plate comes with mounting points for your gear, T-nuts to aid in quick installation, and tie-down points.
This version of the gear plate also takes just moments to install, so you can spend less time customizing your rig and more time enjoying the great outdoors.
In both cases, these gear plates are made of Baltic birch that’s coated in a black 3mm-thick LineX or Rhino Lining coating for added durability.
As we all know, space is one of the biggest commodities when you’re overlanding, and with a gear plate like this, you can maximize the space in your Tacoma or 4Runner to be more usable and functional.
Winner: It’s a draw. In both cases, you get tons of storage space.
Tacoma VS 4Runner – Comfort and Ride
Generally speaking, a wagon is more comfortable than a pickup, and this is also the case when it comes to the Tacoma VS 4runner argument.
The leaf-sprung rear end of the Tacoma can make it feel a bit stiff – especially when empty.
Also, the interior is not as comfortable or spacious, and people seated in the rear seats will get more tired on longer journeys.
Another issue with the Tacoma is that most of your gear will be in the bed when traveling; therefore, passengers cannot reach it while in the car.
To some, this may be a good thing as it forces you to stop and take a break, but for others, it can get frustrating.
Winner: 4Runner. It’s just a more comfortable ride!
Editor’s Tip: Whether you go with a Tacoma or 4Runner, you can outfit your rig with all sorts of fantastic accessories that make overlanding more comfortable. SMRT Tent makes several rooftop tent options that will work with your favorite Toyota off-roader, including the Sky Loft tent (shown above). Why sleep on the cold ground when you can hop in your rooftop tent and not worry about rocks and roots poking you in the back or predators sniffing around your tent?! Check out SMRT Tent’s options at REI.
Tacoma VS 4Runner – Towing
In most cases, pickup trucks are better than wagons at towing, and this is also the case when it comes to the Tacoma VS 4Runner argument.
The 4Runner is rated at 5000lbs, whereas a Tacoma with the tow package at 6400lbs.
Keep in mind that if you get a 4-cylinder Tacoma without the tow package, the tow rating falls to 3500lbs.
Tacoma VS 4Runner – Off-Roading
When it comes to off-roading, the two vehicles have their pros and cons, but the 4Runner has the edge.
First, the coil-sprung rear end offers more wheel articulation which helps keep wheels in contact with the ground for longer. This is important as it provides more grip and ensures the truck feels stable.
Leaf sprung pickups with independent front suspension tend to lift wheels a lot which can feel uneasy.
The Tacoma also has a longer wheelbase, which in some cases can be beneficial. However, it decreases the ramp over angle, meaning that the vehicle can get high-centered more easily.
On the 4Runner, the departure angle is also a bit better, thanks to the shorter overhang.
So if off-road abilities are high on your list, the 4Runner will serve you better.
The Tacoma may not be as capable, but it still is a great off-roader.
Tacoma VS 4Runner – Which Should You Choose for Overlanding?
The choice between the two solely depends on your preferences. If you need a lot of storage space, high payload, or the ability to haul toys such as motorbikes in the bed, then the Tacoma is a no-brainer.
You may also prefer the look of the Tacoma, or if you are traveling alone, might not mind the slight disadvantage in comfort experienced due to the ride quality and rear-seat space.
You should also consider that the Tacoma can double as a work vehicle. On the weekends or holidays, you can pack the bed with camping gear, and during weekdays when it is time for work, you can repack with work gear.
Just like any truck out there, it offers versatility.
On the other hand, for people who are planning on taking their family on an overlanding trip, the comfort and security of the 4Runner are tough to beat. Everyone will have a great time regardless of where they are seated.
The 4Runner also has a slight advantage off-road, as mentioned above.
If you have any further questions on the topic of Tacoma VS 4Runner for overlanding or for any other overlanding or off-road-related topic, head over to the forum section of our website.
Recommended Overlanding Gear