Off-Road Musical Chairs: 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon vs Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road [Review]

Truck versus SUV off-road – which is best?

A 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon squaring off against the 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road in the rough should reach a simple conclusion, right? I mean, it’s not even the top-dog Tacoma TRD Pro. Instead, it’s the TRD Off-Road, which is a less expensive, less-equipped version. So, hands down, you should take the Rubicon. Or should you?

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon does come out on top here, but not for the reason you’re thinking.

Sure, the comparison seems pretty cut-and-dry off-road. However, the (slightly) less off-road-ready Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road was nearly as capable as the Rubicon. With a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 278 horsepower and 265 lbs-feet of torque, it’s plenty powerful, despite its 4,400+ pound curb weight.

[Photo: TFLcar]
While the six-speed automatic is antiquated compared to the Jeep’s eight-speed, it’s smooth and works well off-road. Speaking of working well off the beaten path, the Tacoma had a locking differential and 9.4 inches ground clearance. It also has a 32-degree approach/23.5-degree departure and 21-degree break-over angle. Great numbers off-road.

It’s a solid machine, and its $40,617 as-tested price is a bargain compared to the TRD Pro version.

2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. [Photo: FCA]
On the other hand, the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 makes 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Our tester had an eight-speed automatic transmission, locking (Dana 44) front and rear axles and a disconnecting front sway bar. That said, the $54,385 MSRP is a bit too much to swallow.

The type of boulder bouncing and rough terrain we encountered during the Rocky Mountain Redline Colorado Climb – an event for various automakers to get various journalists into a variety of off-road vehicles near Breckenridge, CO – was no major challenge for either vehicle. On the way up, though, the experience in each vehicle felt different.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road. [Photo: Toyota]
Being that we could test vehicles in this event side-by-side almost immediately allowed me to experience the real difference that matters to most drivers – overall comfort. Seriously. I am a big guy and having to duck and lift to enter and exit the Tacoma is a pain. Legroom is slightly better in the Tacoma and the Tacoma’s highway ride is better, but I was much more comfortable in the Wrangler. Much more comfortable.

Unlike the archaic interior of the Toyota Tacoma, which is still rooted in the idea that the driver is happiest if they are under six-feet tall, the Jeep Wrangler interior is all-new and is surprisingly comfortable. All of the seating positions are more commodious and the headroom is terrific. The steering wheel is more adjustable allowing for a more comfortable seating position altogether.

Toyota builds a hell of a truck, but its comfort is lacking.

Stay tuned for more stories that took place at the Rocky Mountain Redline Hill Climb.