In my case, the Toyota reliability was appealing, whether perceived or real at that point in time. Then I bought a new 2013 F150 with the 5 liter V8 after test driving both it and the V6 Tacoma. I was initially set on the Tacoma. The prices were similar after Ford’s rebates at the time ($10kish), and the Ford was bigger, had more power, and was quieter inside the cabin. So I bought it. I traded it off for my wife’s Highlander within a year. I liked the truck, but I’d prefer her to have the newer, better vehicle. Some of that is beside the point, but I agree that the Ford is the better value if reliability is similar.
As far as power, I have seldom needed it to get out of a scary situation, and I don’t have to have the most powerful thing in the segment. I just really like low rpm acceleration and an engine that doesn’t seem labored and have to downshift often. I like to stay below 3k rpm and just kind of motor around. I’ve never regretted having the “bigger” engine. I can’t really say the opposite is true. If fuel economy is vastly different, sure, the smaller engine makes sense. But in my experience, real world fuel mileage is often really similar (4.8 vs 5.3 GM, 5.2 vs 5.9 Dodge).