The midsize truck market has seen both the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier continuing as staple offerings for many years. These two Japanese brand models seem to have hit the sweet spot when it comes to being just the right size and by sticking to what works.
So, how do you choose between the two? In this guide, we'll compare the Nissan Frontier vs Toyota Tacoma side-by-side to help you decide.
Whilst the Frontier range continues with the same engine, drivetrain options, and cab styles from the major changes made in 2022 to both sheet metal and interiors, one of the biggest upgrades for the 2023 model year is the Midnight Edition Package.
This is an optional package available on the SV crew cab. Aimed more at aesthetics than performance, the package offers black 17-inch alloy wheels, side mirrors, a lower bumper, and a grille as well LED fog lights, headlights, and new daytime running lights.
Now in its 3rd generation of production since 2015, the Toyota Tacoma last saw a facelift in 2020 which compromised both an exterior facelift plus newly added technologies to the inside. Interior upgrades included Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa capabilities.
The 2023 model year Tacoma continues as the best-selling pickup in the midsize truck segment. The Tacomas popularity is evident in the vast array of aftermarket products to make your Tacoma your own. Impressive off-road capability coupled with toughness and good build quality makes the Tacoma the most popular buy in this market.
The Nissan Frontier makes do with a 3.8-liter V6 boasting 281 pounds of torque and a midsize truck class-leading 310 horsepower.
The base Tacomas with their 2.7L inline four-cylinder is never going to match the Nissan's V6 powertrain. For this purpose, you will need to buy your Tacoma with the bigger 3.5-liter V6, with 278 horsepower and an impressive 265 pounds of torque, which despite its aged design and lower output, still feels more responsive.
Bearing in mind, these are not performance street cars. Both trucks are adequately powered for their intended purposes.
Neither of these trucks is light on gas either. The Tacoma should return better consumption in mixed driving than the Frontier. However, when it comes to capability, these two rucks excel.
The Frontier's newly updated cabin shows up the now seven years plus old interior designs of the Tacoma. The Frontier's more upright driving position, low beltline, and larger window and sunroof openings give the Frontier more of an airy cabin, along with welcome outward visibility for drivers and passengers.
By contrast, the Tacoma feels smaller with its wider A-pillars, the low roofline, and the giant expanse of the hood to peer over. Looking at the details of the Tacomas cabin that comes with a grainy infotainment screen, plenty of matte plastic trim, and a cartoon font found in the gauge cluster.
The Nissan Frontier definitely leads the Toyota with its piano-black accents, modernized gauge cluster with a large center infotainment screen, and ergonomically placed soft-touch surfaces and control buttons.
Even though the Frontier is a smaller vehicle, it does not lack in terms of the interior space available. This has resulted in a much roomier cabin feel, particularly for passengers in the second row: The seats may be a little small and upright but offer a less cramped feel, and there's more foot space than in the Tacoma, up to 53 cubic feet of space.
Equipment for back seat passengers in the Nissan is better than the Toyota, with niceties such as a fold-down center armrest, USB and USB-C charging ports, and a 110-volt outlet, which the Toyota does not offer.
However, the Frontier continues its better-equipped interior by offering a heated steering wheel and extra USB port along with an extra 110-volt outlet. Toyota owners need to access their single 110-volt port in the truck bed.
The Frontier's steering column does tilt but still doesn't telescope, which seems an odd omission in a modern vehicle. The Tacoma does trump the Nissan front seats as they are the more comfortable of the two despite Nissan's hype of their "zero-gravity" seats that are reportedly very comfy in the Nissan Rogue.
Both front ends of the Frontier and Tacoma are aggressive with angular headlights and bulging hoods, along with wide stances. Both look rugged and ready to tackle rough terrain. The Frontier rides on slightly larger 17-inch wheels rather than the 16-inch ones fitted on the Tacoma.
The Tacoma does, however, boast a nicer-looking wheel design.
The top-of-the-range Tacoma TRD Pro offers a slightly higher maximum towing capacity of 6,400 pounds vs. the Top Frontier Pro-4X of 6,270 pounds. This advantage is evened out by the Frontier's impressive tow/haul mode, which gives a more controlled towing with limited engine braking going downhill.
Moving to the rear, both trucks look very much similar, but the newer design Frontier is more up-to-date looking, and this is thanks to its modern design taillights. Both trucks sport nearly identical load beds, each equipped with a power outlet in the exact same location.
What's a good truck without usable ground clearance?
Both the trucks are evenly matched when it comes to ground clearance at 9.4 inches. This measurement cannot be viewed in isolation when it comes to off-road capability, as the Tacoma's greater approach and departure angles offer more dexterity over steep obstacles.
To sum up this comparison, the Tacoma is blessed with Toyota's tried-and-true reputation for durability and resale value, plus off-road capabilities that the newer Nissan Frontier hasn't quite earned as yet.
However, the Frontier's marked improvements over the outgoing generation, coupled with its superior road manners, better fuel economy, interiors, and competitive price tags vs. the aging Tacoma, may just sway more buyers to walk into a Nissan showroom.
To get your hands on one of these trucks, visit our knowledgeable and friendly staff at Tim's Trucks.