GMC Sierra vs. Toyota Tacoma – Comparing Top Selling Light-Duty Pickup Trucks

November 19th, 2020 by

Choosing the right truck for your needs can be a challenge, especially when you consider all the different makes and models. Two of the top sellers in the light-duty pickup segment are the GMC Sierra and the Toyota Tacoma. Each offers a number of appealing features, strong hauling and towing capabilities, and powerful engine options. Take a closer look at these two models to help you make a more informed decision.

red gmc sierra off road 2021

Powertrain Options

Both the 2021 Toyota Tacoma and 2021 GMC Sierra are available in multiple trim levels and with various powertrain options. The Tacoma comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, while a six-speed automatic is available. If you want more power, the other option is a 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. It matches with the automatic transmission.

When properly equipped, the Tacoma can haul up to 1,155 pounds of payload and tow up to 6,400 pounds. In order to achieve that towing number, you’ll need the optional V-6 tow package, which includes a class-IV towing hitch receiver, four-pin and seven-pin connector with convertor, trailer-sway control, engine oil and power steering coolers, and a 130-amp alternator.

The base trim level of the GMC Sierra comes with a 4.3-liter V-6 engine rated at 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission. Next up is the 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which puts out 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. This engine works with an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. The SLT trim and above come with a more powerful 5.3-liter V-8 engine, which pumps out 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque, working with the same eight-speed automatic.

When you need to tow and haul heavy cargo, the GMC Sierra is the truck to choose between the two. The max towing capacity with the more powerful engine and proper equipment comes in at 11,800 pounds, while the payload capacity maxes out at 2,280 pounds. If you plan to tow, you’ll want the Max Trailering package, which comes with an automatic locking rear differential, a handling and trailering suspension package, enhanced cooling functionality for the radiator, revised shock tuning, a trailer brake controller, a 9.76-inch rear axle, and a 3.42 axle ratio.

Seating and Cabin Features

Both the 2021 GMC Sierra and Toyota Tacoma offer appealing cabins with spacious seating areas and plenty of upscale features. The 2021 GMC Sierra has best-in-class front headroom and legroom when you choose the crew cab body style, so it offers plenty of space for taller passengers. The cabin also boasts carpeted floors, cloth upholstery, and comfortable seats as standards. For a more luxurious cabin, opt for one of the higher trims to get features like heated front and rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and perforated leather upholstery.

Within the cabin of the Tacoma’s base trim, you’ll find cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, and manual climate control. You can outfit the truck with more upscale comfort features, such as heated and power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a leather-trimmed shift knob. This truck’s cabin seats five.

Storage Capacity

The Sierra boasts more cargo bed volume than any other truck in the class, which means you can carry larger, bulkier items with ease. The Tacoma comes in two body styles, which are Access Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab). You can pair the extended cab with a 6.1-foot bed and the crew cab with a 5-foot bed.

Technology Features

On the tech side, both trucks have features to keep you connected and entertained while on the road. The Tacoma’s base trim includes a four-speaker sound system with a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay/Amazon Alexa smartphone integration, Bluetooth connectivity, and satellite radio. Additional tech options include a larger 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a wireless device charging pad, a premium JBL six-speaker sound system, and integrated navigation with advanced voice controls.

The cabin of the Sierra’s base trim comes outfitted with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth connectivity, a touch-screen display with GMC’s standard infotainment system, and two USB ports. Options for this model include a premium seven-speaker Bose sound system with a subwoofer, an 8-inch touch screen with GMC’s premium infotainment system, navigation, HD radio, additional USB ports, wireless charging, and smartphone integration.


The safety features on both pickup trucks are designed to reduce the risk of collisions and protect those in the truck if a crash does happen. With the Sierra, standard equipment includes six air bags, a rearview camera, electronic stability and traction control, teen driver settings, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Available options include lane change alert with side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, an HD rear vision camera, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and cameras that provide views of the bed and surroundings.

The Tacoma comes equipped with Toyota Safety Sense-P across all trim levels. This bundle of features includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, a rearview camera, automatic high beams, and lane departure alert. Additional equipment includes air bags throughout both rows of seating, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, the LATCH system for child seat installation, and tire pressure monitoring. With the higher trims, you can get blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.

With best-in-class safety features, horsepower, and capacities, the 2021 GMC Sierra is a serious contender in the light pickup truck segment. This model is also one of the only options in the class to offer a head-up display, rear camera mirror, six-function multi-pro tailgate, and a carbon-fiber composite bed.

If interested in stacking up the GMC Sierra against similar trucks, check out our Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 pickup truck comparisons.

At Cochran Buick-GMC, we have a selection of new Sierra trucks available for you to test drive so you can experience these features for yourself.

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