Tacoma or Tundra: Which Is Better for Overlanding?

By Derrick •  Updated: 07/31/21 •  7 min read

Toyota’s off-road capable vehicles are storming the market as some of the best available. The Tundra and Tacoma lead Toyota’s truck lineup by offering 4WD transmissions, powerful 6cyl and 8cyl engines, and a choice between manual and automatic driving. Both are excellent choices, but which one is the best for Overlanding between the two?

The Tundra is better for Overlanding if you want to drive up steep inclines and roll over rocks, but the Tacoma is better if you prefer being agile and nimble as you ride through the hills. The Tundra’s engine is much more powerful, but the Tacoma is easier to get out of narrow slopes and crevices.

In this article, we’ll cover the benefits and disadvantages of Overlanding with Toyota Tacomas and Tundras, as well as which one is best for your off-roading preferences. We’ll also display a helpful table to let you see the breakdown of both vehicles’ potential traits.

Notable Overlanding SpecsToyota TacomaToyota Tundra
Ground Clearance9.4 inches (23.88 cm)10.6 inches (26.9 cm)
Engine Size(s)Four-cylinder & six-cylinderSix-cylinder & eight-cylinder
Transmission(s)2WD & 4WD2WD & 4WD
Vehicle Weight4,505 pounds (2,043.43 kg)5,680 pounds (2,576.41 kg)
Horsepower159 to 279 HP381 HP
(Sources: Toyota & Edmunds)

Pros and Cons of a Tacoma for Overlanding

Toyota Tacomas were once known as compact working trucks, but they’ve evolved to become impressive on-road and off-road multipurpose trucks. They’re no longer fixed with small engines, as they can boast a 6cyl engine with up to 279 horsepower. 

Are these specs enough to make them the best choice for Overlanding? Let’s discuss the pros and cons below.

Pros of a Tacoma for Overlanding

  • Tacomas are slimmer than Tundras, which means you can go up narrow slopes. Having a narrower body lets the Tacoma traverse up and down all sorts of places most big trucks couldn’t dream of. If you want to go deep into the wilderness with your off-roading truck, the Tacoma is more than reliable.
  • Although it’s not as high as the Tundra, Tacoma has an excellent ground clearance. We covered the 9.4-inch (23.88-cm) height in the previously mentioned table, which is well over many compact trucks. The Tacoma might be smaller than the Tundra, but its ground clearance is ideal for off-roading and Overlanding. 
  • Off-road Tacomas come with top-notch all-terrain tires and either manual or automatic transmissions. You can purchase the TRD package to have a fully-equipped truck that’s ready to go Overlanding right off of the car lot. All you have to do is toss your gear in the truck and head to your favorite spot.
  • It’s excellent for rock crawling through gravel, boulders, and more. Toyota has a rock crawling feature built into the Tacoma that lets you set and forget it. Hit the brakes, engage the Rock Crawler button, and slowly monitor its progress on the screen. It’ll roll uphill without much user engagement.

Cons of a Tacoma for Overlanding

  • Tacomas don’t offer the power of a V8 Tundra. If you’re obsessed with massive engines with high-HP ratings, the Tacoma will be underwhelming. It’s over 100 horsepower less than the Tundra, making it about average for the compact truck industry.
  • Pickup Trucks states Tacomas can only pull between 3,500 to 6,800 pounds (1,587.57 to 3,084.53 kg), which is much less than a Tundra. You can attach overhead campers and other camping gear, but don’t expect to Overland with a sizable trailer like you could with a Tundra.

Pros and Cons of a Tundra for Overlanding

Although the Tacoma is quite impressive on and off the road, the Tundra takes the cake for many Overlanders. The bigger interior room and extra power are enough to tip the scales. It’s worth knowing the Tundra’s drawbacks, though. One of them might be enough to make you choose the Tacoma in a heartbeat (see the Tundra’s last con below).

Here are the Tundra’s most notable pros and cons:

Pros of a Tundra for Overlanding

  • Tundras have much more cab space than Tacomas, which means you can bring more people and gear. You’ll enjoy the wide interior if you want to pack more items, but it’s also convenient to have more padding and safety for potential accidents. The Tundra is a metal beast that can handle Overlanding without flipping due to its dimensions.
  • A Toyota Tundra has up to 381 horsepower to pull you in and out of a bad situation. Many off-roaders believe power is everything when it comes to Overlanding. Whether you’re digging yourself out of a trench or plowing uphill, it’s hard to find a better Toyota for the job than the Tundra.
  • The Tundra offers plenty of ground clearance. With almost one foot of clearance, you don’t have to worry about scraping the bottom of the truck. You can get a lift kit to elevate it even more off the ground, which is incredibly helpful for long-term Overlanding with lots of hills, rocks, and so on.
  • According to Oxmoor Toyota, a Tundra can tow up to 10,200 pounds (4,626.64 kg). Its towing capacity is over twice that of the smaller Tacoma, which is quite significant. Pull a trailer, load all of your gear on top, and don’t worry about overheating the engine.

Cons of a Tundra for Overlanding

  • They’re a bit bulky compared to the Tacoma, which means you can’t go through narrow areas. This issue is based on personal preference since not everyone cares about traveling through narrow spaces. However, there’s no doubt the Tacoma lets you access more Overlanding spots.
  • The Tundra doesn’t include Toyota’s Crawl Control system, which can be a significant drawback for many off-roading enthusiasts. We discussed the top-of-the-line convenience of this feature in the previous pros section for the Tacoma. If you want to let the truck do most of the work, the Tundra will prove problematic.

If you’d like to see an Overlanding comparison between the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra, check out this informative video:

Should You Choose a Toyota Tundra or Tacoma for Overlanding?

You’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of Overlanding with a Toyota truck, but you might still be on the fence. These trucks are at the top of the industry for off-roading and similar activities, but it can be challenging to decide which best suits your interests.

We recommend the Tacoma for those who want to rock crawl through narrow areas. The crawling feature is unlike anything offered by its competitors, and you won’t find it on the Tundra. Furthermore, the Tacoma’s ability to access almost any Overlanding region is as good as it gets.

If you prefer muscling through dirt, sand, snow, and more, the Tundra is the way to go. With over 100 more horsepower, an optional V8 engine, and double the Tacoma’s towing capacity, the Tundra is an Overlanding marvel.

These trucks compare well with each other, but they’re also worth comparing to other brands, such as Dodge, Ford, and Chevy. The Tundra is comparable to the F250 and Ram 2500, whereas the Tacoma compares to the F150 and Ram 1500.

They have above-average ground clearance and excellent Overlanding features, thanks to Toyota’s desire to improve their off-roading experience.


Now that you know what each vehicle offers for Overlanding and off-roading, you can choose the best solution. There’s no denying the Tundra’s unparalleled engine power, but the Tacoma shouldn’t be overlooked. After reviewing this post, it’s clear that it comes down to personal preference. Do you prefer heavy-duty Overlanding or tackling narrow slopes?



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