2019 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Tacoma has standard head airbag curtains for front and rear seats which act as a forgiving barrier between the driver and outboard passenger's upper bodies and the window and pillars. Combined with high-strength steel door beams and lower side airbags this system increases head protection in broadside collisions. Head airbags cost extra in the Wrangler JK and are only available for the front seats.

The Tacoma has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Tacoma has standard Pre-Collision System, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Wrangler JK doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Toyota Tacoma has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Tacoma’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Tacoma (except SR) offers optional Intuitive Parking Assist to help warn drivers about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind their vehicle. The Tacoma also has a standard backup monitor to help drivers see any and all obstacles behind their vehicle. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer any parking assist system.

The Tacoma (except SR/SR5)’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Tacoma (except SR/SR5)’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Tacoma’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Tacoma and the Wrangler JK have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available four-wheel drive.

In a 31 MPH side-impact test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crashes a 3300 pound sled into the side of new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Toyota Tacoma Access Cab is safer than the Wrangler JK Unlimited without its optional side airbags:

 

Tacoma

Wrangler JK

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Structure

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

 

Driver

Head Protection Rating

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Injury Rating

GOOD

GOOD

Torso Injury Rating

GOOD

POOR

Pelvis/Leg Injury Rating

GOOD

GOOD

Head Injury Criterion

111

139

Shoulder Movement

37 mm

41 mm

 

Rear Passenger

Head Protection Rating

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Injury Rating

GOOD

GOOD

Torso Injury Rating

GOOD

GOOD

Pelvis/Leg Injury Rating

GOOD

GOOD

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the general design of front seat head restraints for their ability to protect front seat occupants from whiplash injuries. The IIHS also performs a dynamic test on those seats with “good” or “acceptable” geometry. In these ratings, the Tacoma is safer than the Wrangler JK:

 

Tacoma

Wrangler JK

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Restraint Design

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Distance from Back of Head

22 mm

46 mm

Distance Below Top of Head

30 mm

66 mm

Dynamic Test Rating

GOOD

MARGINAL

Seat Design

Pass

Fail

Neck Force Rating

Low

Medium

Max Neck Shearing Force

0

150

Max Neck Tension

398

947

(Lower numerical results are better in all tests.)

Warranty

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Tacoma for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Jeep doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Wrangler JK.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 59 more problems per 100 vehicles, Jeep is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Jeep vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Jeep is ranked 22nd.

Engine

The Tacoma’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (265 vs. 260) than the Wrangler JK’s 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Toyota Tacoma V6 is faster than the Jeep Wrangler JK (automatics tested):

 

Tacoma

Wrangler JK

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

8.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.6 MPH

82.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Tacoma gets better fuel mileage than the Wrangler JK:

 

 

 

MPG

Tacoma

2WD

Auto

2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

20 city/23 hwy

 

 

3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/24 hwy

4WD

Manual

3.5 DOHC V6

17 city/20 hwy

 

Auto

2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

19 city/22 hwy

 

 

3.5 DOHC V6

18 city/22 hwy

Wrangler JK

4WD

Manual

2dr 4.0 DOHC V6

17 city/21 hwy

 

 

Unlimited 4.0 DOHC V6

16 city/20 hwy

 

Auto

2dr 4.0 DOHC V6

17 city/21 hwy

 

 

Unlimited 4.0 DOHC V6

16 city/21 hwy

The Tacoma has 2.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Wrangler JK 2dr’s standard fuel tank (21.1 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Toyota Tacoma comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Wrangler JK.

A six-speed automatic is standard on the Toyota Tacoma, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a five-speed automatic is available for the Wrangler JK.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Tacoma 4x4’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Wrangler JK:

 

Tacoma 4x4

Wrangler JK

Front Rotors

12.48 inches

11.9 inches

The Tacoma stops much shorter than the Wrangler JK:

 

Tacoma

Wrangler JK

 

70 to 0 MPH

185 feet

217 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

132 feet

150 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

158 feet

181 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Tacoma has larger standard tires than the Wrangler JK (245/75R16 vs. 225/75R16). The Tacoma TRD Sport’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Wrangler JK (265/65R17 vs. 255/75R17).

The Tacoma Short Bed Limited Double Cab’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Wrangler JK Sahara’s 70 series tires.

The Toyota Tacoma’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Jeep Wrangler JK only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

The Toyota Tacoma’s independent front suspension is much lighter than the Jeep Wrangler JK’s solid front axle, which allows the Tacoma’s wheels to react more quickly and accurately to the road’s surface, improving both ride and handling.

For much better steering response and tighter handling the Tacoma has rack and pinion steering, like Formula race cars, instead of the recirculating-ball type steering of the Wrangler JK.

The Tacoma has variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Tacoma Access Cab’s wheelbase is 32 inches longer than on the Wrangler JK 2dr (127.4 inches vs. 95.4 inches). The Tacoma Long Bed Double Cab’s wheelbase is 24.6 inches longer than on the Wrangler JK Unlimited (140.6 feet vs. 116 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Tacoma is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Wrangler JK.

The Tacoma Short Bed SR5 Double Cab handles at .71 G’s, while the Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited pulls only .59 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Tacoma Short Bed Limited Double Cab 4x4 handles at .73 G’s, while the Wrangler JK 2dr pulls only .60 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Tacoma Short Bed SR5 Double Cab executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.7 seconds quicker than the Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited (29.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s vs. 31.1 seconds @ .49 average G’s).

The Tacoma Short Bed TRD Off-Road Double Cab 4x4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the Wrangler JK Sport 2dr (28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s vs. 30.1 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the Tacoma has a 1.2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Wrangler JK Sport Unlimited (9.4 vs. 8.2 inches), allowing the Tacoma to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

For excellent aerodynamics, the Tacoma has standard flush composite headlights. The Wrangler JK has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space

The Tacoma Access Cab has 1.9 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room and 7 inches more rear hip room than the Wrangler JK 2dr.

The Tacoma Double Cab has 1.9 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room and 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the Wrangler JK Unlimited.

Cargo Capacity

The Tacoma Double Cab short bed has a much larger cargo volume than the Wrangler JK 2dr with its rear seat up (34.8 vs. 12.8 cubic feet). The Tacoma Double Cab long bed has a much larger cargo volume than the Wrangler JK 2dr with its rear seat up (42.6 vs. 12.8 cubic feet).

The Tacoma Access Cab has a much larger cargo volume than the Wrangler JK Unlimited with its rear seat up (42.6 vs. 31.5 cubic feet).

The Tacoma Access Cab has a much larger cargo area than the Wrangler JK 2dr with its rear seat up (42.6 vs. 12.8 cubic feet).

Payload and Towing

The Tacoma’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Wrangler JK’s (3500 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited is only 3500 pounds. The Tacoma Access Cab offers up to a 6800 lbs. towing capacity.

The Tacoma has a higher standard payload capacity than the Wrangler JK (1175 vs. 1000 lbs.).

The Tacoma has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the Wrangler JK (1620 vs. 1000 lbs.).

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Tacoma has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Tacoma’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows cost extra on the Wrangler JK.

The Tacoma TRD/Limited’s front power windows both open or close with one touch of the switches. The Wrangler JK’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The Tacoma’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Wrangler JK’s optional power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

The Tacoma’s standard power locks allow the driver or passenger to lock or unlock all the doors at a touch without leaning over. Power locks cost extra on the Wrangler JK.

The Smart Key System standard on the Tacoma TRD Auto/Limited allows you to unlock the driver’s door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Jeep Wrangler JK doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

Consumer Reports rated the Tacoma’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Wrangler JK’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

The Tacoma has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Wrangler JK has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Sahara/Rubicon.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Tacoma detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Tacoma has standard power remote mirrors. The Wrangler JK only comes with remote mirrors at extra cost. Without them the driver will have to roll down the windows and reach across the car to adjust the mirrors.

The Tacoma’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Wrangler JK’s optional power mirror controls are on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

The Tacoma (except SR/SR5)’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Tacoma Double Cab has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer rear vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Tacoma has a standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Optional Entune App Suite for the Tacoma (not available SR) allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, tagging songs to buy them later, finding fuel prices at nearby service stations, searching the internet and other connected activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

Model Availability

The Tacoma is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Wrangler JK doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Tacoma is less expensive to operate than the Wrangler JK because typical repairs cost less on the Tacoma than the Wrangler JK, including $49 less for front brake pads and $38 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The TRD Off-Road was selected by Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine as their 2016 4x4 of the Year. The Wrangler JK was 4x4 of the Year in 2012.

The Toyota Tacoma outsold the Jeep Wrangler by 5627 units during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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