I sold a 3rd gen Taco TRD OR automatic DCLB I owned for 5 years to get my JTR automatic with the 3.6. Before the Taco I've owned every vehicle until it was 150K+ in mileage (some XJs above 250K). Long post, but this was something I obsessed over with buying such an expensive truck.
Things I like/love about the JTR over the Taco:
Things I like/love about the JTR over the Taco:
- The Pentastar 3.6 + 8spd transmission is miles better match than the Taco's. The Rubicon gearing and the engine/AT combo is smooth, no lag shifting, no severe downshifts.
- Gearing, I don't know what Toyota was thinking, the Taco is way too high geared from the factory. Just for highway driving even. In Montana I never saw 6th gear in the Taco with the stock setup on the highway. I don't know how the higher geared JT sports compare, but the Rubicon is often using 8th in the mountains for me with the stock 33s
- Can't speak to the reliability of the JT, so far so good, but the transfer case + shift actuator on my Taco failed at 25K. That's a fairly common issue and was an issue on the 2nd gen too.
- Reliability, again, can't speak to the JTR, but I only knew 3 people with a 3rd gen Taco and all of them had complete transmission failures. One after 30 days new. For those thinking manuals are more reliable, look at all the 3rd gen Taco manual recalls.
- Cheap design, the Taco had good build quality, but Toyota just cheaps out on some stuff. That crazy low muffler in the middle of the belly, the lack of sound insulation behind the rear seats. My dog would be a panting wreck when the seats were down, and she grew up riding in a soft top LJ.
- The 4wd system is superior by any measure on the JTR, but I paid for it. Crawl Control was vaporware for me in rocks/mud and worse in snow. Having the option for 4-auto in the JTR was huge for me in a winter state. It's unbelievable that Toyota still hasn't offered this on a truck but did Crawl Control.
- Taco had tiny tires and challenging to put anything bigger on it if you want to do it right. (gearing, trimming, suspension, space for a spare). The JTR starts where most Tacos end.
- Modifications are simpler. Just putting a winch on a non-Jeep usually requires cutting body work. The JTR required turning bolts.
- Customizability, you can make a Jeep look like yours easily. I liked my Taco, and with my mods it was a competent off-roader, but I never loved it like I did my older F150 or my Jeeps.
- Gas mileage, I get the same or better (on interstates) with my JTR and OVRLND camper than I ever did in the Taco thanks to proper gearing and a better transmission/engine pairing.
- The interior was designed by someone with a passion for Jeeps. or any passion. Toyota builds good products, but there's no passion. Also there's much more storage in the JT.
- All storage is locking in the JT, I love this since I often pack a laptop with me. Even the back seat storage is locking.
- I can actually see over the hood when offroad in the JTR. I hated that hood+seating position for offroad in the Taco, let's add 6" of empty hood space to make it look "manly".
- The rear seating is way better. More legroom for passengers and I can change into my backcountry ski boots when it's -5F out. Couldn't do that in the Taco between no legroom and low roof line. I have passengers comment on the roominess.
- Maneuverability offroad, granted I had a DCLB Taco, but even compared to one of the shorter wheelbased Tacos the JTR is so much better. You can't just look at turn radius. I can pull up on a bank forwards or backwards in the JTR where I would've damaged fiberglass on the Taco. Visibility is superior, stock bumpers are superior for dinking around trees, rocks, etc.
- Highway handling of the suspension. My Taco OR handled cornering well stock, adding an Icon kit to it made it incredible. The JTR is unsettling in mountain passes/cornering at best. Of course it'll take me 1 hour of work and $500 to fix the JTR when I decide what coils I need/want.
- Load handling of leaf springs. The JTR is super soft and sags lots with only 30% of payload.
- Personally I think the Gladiator should've had a composite bed to lighten it up. I hauled firewood for 5 years in the Taco and the bed looked new still.
- Resale??? Who knows about the JTR, but expensive vehicles rarely hold their value well. Rubicons have usually held value well though, so we'll see. My Taco sold for retail + mods after 5 years and 40k (w/pandemic craziness).
- A f*king locking hood.
- My 3rd gen Taco was still not super high-tech. No apps, no start-stop.
- A 6' foot bed. My OVRLND camper on the JTR fixed this mostly for me (sleeping) but I still miss that extra foot.
- Starting price. I paid 38K for a loaded TRD OR 6 years ago and spent 8K in mods. Wouldn't get that now, the local Toyo dealer used to do $800-1000 above invoice so much less than MSRP.