Tacoma vs. Gladiator

montechie

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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:
  • 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.
Things I miss from the Taco:
  • 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.
The only other vehicle I considered was a ZR2 from AEV with the 35 kit, might have been cheaper and also had a better engine/transmission combo than the Taco. Again, the ZR2 just wasn't designed around 35s and stops where the JTR is just getting started.

 

Akgladiator

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My Tacoma just got totaled and I'm thinking about switching to a gladiator. I went with the Tacoma originally over the Gladiator because it was about 10 grand cheaper. Anybody went from a Tacoma to a gladiator? Glad you did it or regret it?
Stay with taco, you will be happier and stress free
 

jjs3845

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My JT is a great daily driver and light hauler. Its also fun. I have a 22 Tundra which Toyota threw everything in and finally brought it up to date (they were grossly behind the times with technology up to now).

If I need to go get a lot of heavy stuff or need passenger room, I take the Tundra. Its a big boy. Its got a lot of power - those twin turbos give it a nice kick.

I think my Tundra is more reliable than my JT mostly because of the way Toyota runs its business vs Jeep. Toyota will bend over backwards to make it right where Jeep, well..... So I'm not sure the reliability issues come from the JT itself or the ways the company and dealers handle your issues. I suspect the latter.

I really like both. The Taco will not be as fun or as good as the Jeep will be in offroad, but the Taco will be better on the road and the company standing behind it. Just my experiences - but I've got 3 really lousy Jeep dealers in my area that has soured my opinion.
 
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rorgan

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My JT is a great daily driver and light hauler. Its also fun. I have a 22 Tundra which Toyota threw everything in and finally brought it up to date (they were grossly behind the times with technology up to now).

If I need to go get a lot of heavy stuff or need passenger room, I take the Tundra. Its a big boy. Its got a lot of power - those twin turbos give it a nice kick.

I think my Tundra is more reliable than my JT mostly because of the way Toyota runs its business vs Jeep. Toyota will bend over backwards to make it right where Jeep, well..... So I'm not sure the reliability issues come from the JT itself or the ways the company and dealers handle your issues. I suspect the latter.

I really like both. The Taco will not be as fun or as good as the Jeep will be in offroad, but the Taco will be better on the road and the company standing behind it. Just my experiences - but I've got 3 really lousy Jeep dealers in my area that has soured my opinion.
Thanks for the advice. My mind wants a Tacoma but my heart wants a gladiator. I might be lucky to get anything these days without a 3-month wait
 
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rorgan

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Sorry for your loss. I hope no one was hurt.

I tried to objectively drive both both. The JT has more power in the 3.6 and not even close compared to the diesel, better tech and kills the Tacoma off road in every way you can throw at it. The aftermarket seems to also be more economical. Oh and you get four disk brakes. Have you ever been topless or doorless in a taco?

The Tacoma is nice truck and it is known to be reliable so really not crapping on it. It’s just not a JT.
Thankfully no one was hurt. I agree with everything you said. And I'm not sure why Tacoma won't move past those damn rear drum brakes. They were the same price it would be a no-brainer but the Tacoma is a lot cheaper.
 


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rorgan

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It's not really an apples to apples game.
If I was strictly in the market for just a great reliable mid sized pickup the Tacoma would win every time.
I've had two, both of which Toyota warranted years past their original factory warranty. They're great, great trucks.

What they are not is top and doors removable, killer great looking inside and out, and upgradable to insane levels without serious body modifications.

As far as factory model to factory model, the Tacoma is extremely capable off road and a joy to drive on road.
I test drove a gladiator before and it seemed to me visibility was kind of compromised compared to the Tacoma. Not sure if you feel that's the case in daily life.
 
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rorgan

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Right here my friend! I’ve owned three small Toyota trucks. The last one was a 2020 Off road double cab long bed. Clumsy behavior in every way. Terrible transmission (my first ever automatic). My gladiator is really new but I like it much more than that tacoma. It feels like a way smaller footprint which is nice in the city. More nimble. Better ride. A manual transmission. And I’m hoping a more capable 4x4. I love it.
Everybody complains about that transmission. It's just rough. The engine is pretty noisy too. My wife has a Highlander with more or less the same engine and you barely hear any noise out of it it's much smoother. I realize the Tacoma is a truck and it's probably tuned differently but I think they could do a better job with the smoothness
 

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Thankfully no one was hurt. I agree with everything you said. And I'm not sure why Tacoma won't move past those damn rear drum brakes. They were the same price it would be a no-brainer but the Tacoma is a lot cheaper.
What can you do with a Taco in terms of "market adjustments"? There are quite a few Jeep dealers offering hefty discounts, where as I keep hearing 10-15k markups on Tacos.

For example, my JT wasn't cheap. It was MSRP at 58k, but my OTD price was like 54k.
 

RichDSport

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I had ordered a Tacoma before switching to the Gladiator. Basically I didn't like the Toyota infotainment after living with the awesome interior of the Cherokee for 3 years. Also things that tipped in the Jeeps favor were the convertible top, more fun to drive engine, and better off-road capability. I was afraid I would need to start upgrading parts on the Tacoma, while the Rubicon does just about all I need out of the box. It hauls a lot of gear and tows very well too.

The gas mileage has been disappointing, but from what I understand people say similar things about the Taco. It's also quite a bit more expensive--mine cost more than a TRD Pro for a very basic Rubicon.
 

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I’ve had two Tacomas - sold my ‘21 for close to what I paid for it to buy my used Gladiator. Nothing wrong with the Tacoma at all. Great trucks but I just liked the versatility and mod options of the Jeep. To me, the Gladiator is just more fun for my lifestyle.
That's my opinion too. Although my JTR isn't here yet (ETA 7/1 if they can get truck drivers at the railhead in AZ), I already have my 2018 Tacoma TRDPro sold for the MSRP on the 2018 window sticker. I've had 5 Tacomas (4 MT and 1 AT), and reliability is great, but off-road capability in the JTR is hands down better.
 


Geoarch

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I'll say this: If I was just driving on the road with the occasional light off roading and I could get a convertible Tacoma, I would probably look at it real hard. I wanted that early 2000's Tacoma...badly. It was about as Colorado as a Subaru. But I feel those were better trucks.

I would also be real curious how one sets up for desert bombing like a TRX, Mojave, or a Raptor. It might shine like that. TRD Supercharged with the right mods...

I like that the cab of the JT allows me to fit 4 kids and a 65 pound dog. It's not ideal, but we make it work.

I have wheeled with enough of them to know I don't want one.
Yes...with enough money you can mod anything to kick ass. It's also your right to spend the money.
For serious off road stuff, you are wanting SFA.

Frankly the JT has more soul and personality when driving it.





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Geoarch

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We were originally looking at a Tacoma before we bought the Gladiator.

We test drove a used '18 TRD Pro. The tires were atrocious (I think M/Ts), as it wouldn't keep the rear end under it going up hills on a wet road.

I wasn't a fan of the driving position. But we were this || close to getting one. The final deal breaker was the additional dealer mark-up. In Bellingham, it was $2500 over MSRP, for a vehicle that "might" be here in two weeks. In the Seattle area, the mark-up was $7500-$10k.

The only downside to the Jeep (other than price) was the seats. They're not that comfortable on long drives. We've mitigated that with seat cushions that don't hamper the heated seats.

Our vehicle requirements were: mid-size truck, 4x4/AWD, heated seats, sunroof, blind spot, backup cam. Gladiator and Tacoma were/are the only ones that fit that.
What seat cushions do you use?
 

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Hootbro

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Thanks for the advice. My mind wants a Tacoma but my heart wants a gladiator. I might be lucky to get anything these days without a 3-month wait
Sounds like you might want to stay with a Tacoma. Wranglers and Gladiators tend to be more lifestyle vehicles and happiest owners of these tend to be all in on them.

 

 
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