2020 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

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 Frontier 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 Frontier 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 Frontier doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Tacoma (except SR/SR5/TRD Sport) offers an optional Panoramic View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Frontier only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

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 Frontier 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 Frontier 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 Frontier doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Tacoma has standard Safety Connect, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Frontier doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

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

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Toyota Tacoma Access Cab is safer than the Frontier Crew Cab:

Tacoma

Frontier

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

19 cm

32 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/1%

0%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

ACCEPTABLE

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.71/.7

1.77/1.37

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 Frontier:

Tacoma

Frontier

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Restraint Design

GOOD

GOOD

Distance from Back of Head

22 mm

44 mm

Distance Below Top of Head

30 mm

48 mm

Dynamic Test Rating

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Seat Design

Pass

Pass

Neck Force Rating

Low

Medium

Max Neck Shearing Force

0

152

Max Neck Tension

398

645

(Lower numerical results are better in all tests.)

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Tacoma the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Frontier was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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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. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Frontier.

There are over 15 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Nissan dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Tacoma’s warranty.

Reliability

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 29 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Nissan is ranked 11th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Tacoma RWD Auto V6 gets better fuel mileage than the Frontier RWD (19 city/24 hwy vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

Transmission

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The Tacoma offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Frontier doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Tacoma 4x4

Frontier King Cab

Frontier Crew Cab

Front Rotors

12.48 inches

11.1 inches

11.7 inches

The Tacoma stops much shorter than the Frontier:

Tacoma

Frontier

70 to 0 MPH

185 feet

199 feet

Car and Driver

Suspension and Handling

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The Tacoma has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Frontier base model’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Tacoma has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Tacoma flat and controlled during cornering. The Frontier’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Tacoma’s wheelbase is longer than on the Frontier:

Tacoma

Frontier

Extended Cab Standard Bed

127.4 inches

125.9 inches

Crew Cab Short Bed

127.4 inches

125.9 inches

Crew Cab Standard Bed

140.6 inches

139.9 inches

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Tacoma is 1.5 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Frontier.

For better maneuverability, the Tacoma’s turning circle is tighter than the Frontier’s:

Tacoma

Frontier

Extended Cab Standard Bed

40.6 feet

43.5 feet

Crew Cab Short Bed

40.6 feet

43.58 feet

Extended Cab Standard Bed 4x4

40.6 feet

43.33 feet

Crew Cab Short Bed 4x4

40.6 feet

43.33 feet

Crew Cab Standard Bed 4x4

44.1 feet

47.5 feet

For greater off-road capability the Tacoma has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Frontier (9.4 vs. 8.9 inches), allowing the Tacoma to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The Toyota Tacoma may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 250 pounds less than the Nissan Frontier.

Passenger Space

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The Tacoma Access Cab has .5 inches more front legroom, 1.4 inches more front hip room and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Frontier King Cab.

The Tacoma Double Cab has .5 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front hip room and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Frontier Crew Cab.

Cargo Capacity

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The Tacoma Access Cab has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier King Cab shortbed (42.6 vs. 33.5 cubic feet).

The Tacoma Double Cab shortbed has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier Crew Cab shortbed (34.8 vs. 27.1 cubic feet). The Tacoma Double Cab longbed has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier Crew Cab longbed (42.6 vs. 33.5 cubic feet).

The Tacoma’s cargo box is larger than the Frontier’s in almost every dimension:

Tacoma Access Cab

Tacoma Double Cab

Frontier King Cab

Length (short/long)

73.7”

60.5”/73.7”

73.3”

Max Width

56.7”

56.7”

61.4”

Min Width

41.5”

41.5”

44.4”

Height

19.1”

19.1”

18”

The Toyota Tacoma has a standard tailgate assist feature, which prevents the heavy tailgate from falling with a crash and causing injury. It allows adults and children to easily open and close the tailgate with one hand to better facilitate loading and unloading. The Nissan Frontier doesn’t offer a tailgate assist.

The Tacoma has bed indentations that accommodate 2x4’s for two-tiered loading to help accommodate diverse loads; the Frontier doesn’t offer two-tiered loading.

Payload

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The Tacoma has a much higher standard payload capacity than the Frontier:

Tacoma

Frontier

Extended Cab

1685 lbs.

1460 lbs.

Crew Cab

1560 lbs.

1020 lbs.

Extended Cab 4x4

1445 lbs.

1340 lbs.

Crew Cab 4x4

1155 lbs.

1020 lbs.

The Tacoma has a much higher maximum payload capacity than the Frontier (1685 vs. 1460 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

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The Tacoma has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Frontier doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Tacoma to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes and tire rotation based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Nissan doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Frontier.

Ergonomics

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The engine computer on the Tacoma TRD/Limited Auto automatically engages the starter until the car starts with one twist of the key and disables the starter while the engine is running. The Frontier’s starter can be accidentally engaged while the engine is running, making a grinding noise and possibly damaging the starter and ring gear.

The Tacoma’s standard tilting steering column adjusts to different sized drivers and makes entering and exiting easier. Nissan doesn’t offer tilt steering on the Frontier S King Cab.

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 Frontier doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Tacoma TRD/Limited’s front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches, and the driver’s window also automatically closes, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Frontier’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

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 Nissan Frontier’s Push Button Start doesn’t unlock the doors.

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

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Tacoma’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Frontier’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

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 Frontier has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the PRO-4X.

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 Frontier doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Tacoma has standard power remote mirrors. The Frontier S doesn’t offer either a remote driver side or passenger side mirror. The driver will have to roll down the windows and reach across the car to adjust the mirrors.

The Tacoma’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Frontier PRO-4X.

The Tacoma’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Frontier SV/PRO-4X’s power mirror controls are on the dash where they are possibly hidden by the steering wheel and are awkward to manipulate.

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 Frontier doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Toyota Camry Hybrid TRD/Limited has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Frontier doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Tacoma TRD/Limited has a 115-volt a/c outlet in the cargo area, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Frontier doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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The Tacoma will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Tacoma will retain 61.41% to 75.5% of its original price after five years, while the Frontier only retains 47.88% to 57.06%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Tacoma is less expensive to operate than the Frontier because it costs $527 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Tacoma than the Frontier, including $19 less for front brake pads, $94 less for a fuel pump and $62 less for front struts.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Toyota Tacoma will be $1340 to $1542 less than for the Nissan Frontier.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/05

The TRD Off-Road was selected by Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine as their 2016 4x4 of the Year. The Frontier has never been chosen.

The Toyota Tacoma outsold the Nissan Frontier by over three to one during 2019.

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

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