Did you compare the returns for each of those? I'll save you the suspense, VTSMX wins in every time period....Considerably..... by at least 2% per year. My Roth funds and my SEP funds beat VTSMX over the last 1,3, 5, and 10 year periods, btw.
First you said target date funds have a lot of hands on management and that fees were higher. I gave you one example (of several) where that wasn't the case.
The returns are different because the funds have different goals.
The point is there are choices out there for people who would benefit from low fee, self adjusting funds. You may have funds that have had better historical returns, but that's not the whole picture.
Target-date funds, on the other hand, paint everyone of the same age with the same brush.
I don't think you've thought through the available selections, with Vanguard, for example. Just because you will retire in 25 years doesn't mean you need to choose the 2040 fund. Like you said, it depends on your risk tolerance.