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Toyota Tacoma vs Nissan Frontier



  • was between the taco DC long bed 4x4 and frontier CC 4x4. I looked at Dakota and Colorado, but neither really compared to the quality of ride/comfort afforded by the taco & the frontier.


    Power/towing: Both will easily tow my 4000 lb boat+trailer easily, so no clear winner. Edge slightly to the Taco for the longer wheelbase.


    Exterior styling: I think the roof rails of the frontier are dumb looking, so I gave the edge to the Taco here.


    Interior styling: I thought both were nice. Neither really stood out as better than the other, they are just different. Wash.


    Comfort: The rear seats of the taco were much more comfortable than they are on the frontier, but since the passengers back there will be in car-seats, not the supplied seats, this is a wash. I like the fold-up on the frontier a little better. The ride itself seemed similar. Very slight edge to Frontier.


    Bed: The taco composite bed worries me a little bit since conditions in the upper midwest can be extreme, but I tend to think that was accounted for by the engineers. The length of the LB DC is nice, and I like the usability of the 6ft bed over the 5' bed of the frontier. Edge: Tacoma


    Options: The wife wants VDC and supplemental side airbags. Go ahead and try to find either of these with those options. This essentially meant either truck would be an order. Frontier gets the nod on available options though with factory moonroof and leather/heated seats.


    Dealers: The Nissan dealer in town is willing to give us a fair value on our trade without me having to negotiate it up to the fair value, and price the frontier at 500 over invoice. The Toyota dealer would come down 500 from MSRP and wouldn't commit to a trade value since its an order, and wanted $1000 non-refundable deposit. IE, Toyota dealer wanted me to be in a position where I either take their lowball trade offer or I lose the 1000 deposit. Guess which truck I'm going to order tomorrow? Yep: Frontier LE CC 4x4 with leather, side airbags, moonroof, traction package and radio upgrade. All this for less than $30k. Not bad. Now, how long will I have to wait....
  • tsikestsikes Posts: 3
    Hey Tarheel, what did you pay out the door? Did you have a trade-in? Let me know I'm about 2-weeks away from buying the 05 4X2 TRD Pkg. Also, any insight on how it drives feels on the freeway? Gas Mileage? Anything that will make me happy or not so happy :-). Thanks tsikes
  • Hi guys,


         I had a great opportunity to compare the nuts and bolts of both of these trucks at our local auto show. It was great; Toyota and Nissan were all of a 30 second walk away from each other! Well, this is what I observed on the trucks. Since I have a family of four, the rear seats in the crew/double cab are very important to the family and me. My kids are only 3 and 6 years old, but they will only keep on getting bigger! Anyway, I liked the seat height on the Tacoma much better. There is enough height from the floor to the seat cushion that my thighs would rest on the seat. However, in the Frontier, the seat height was too low. My thighs could not rest on the seat cushion unless I crossed my legs. I felt like my knees where in my chest while sitting in the Frontier. I also liked the interior of the Tacoma much better. The Frontier reminds of the interior of a 1985 Chevy S-10. As far as the horsepower thing goes, both have plenty of power. Not that I have driven either one. I just figured my 2000 F-150 4X4 Ext Cab SB has 260HP and 350 lb-ft and weights 4800 lbs, so 245HP and 265HP in trucks that weight 4100 lbs should be more than enough power. Especially considering both have 5-speed automatics, which is better than the 4-speed automatic in my Ford.


         You may be wondering why I’m looking at a mid-size truck with a growing family. It’s true that I own a full-size truck, but the Ext cab just doesn’t have enough room for adults to sit comfortably. In addition, because of these stupid horsepower wars going on between manufactures, none of V-8 engines around the 5-liter range get anything better than about 12-14 mpg. I just can’t afford to feed a gas hog like that. BTW, my F-150 has a 3.55 rear end and is a 2 valve per cylinder design and gets 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. My revs at 70mph are only 1800 rpm. Why in the world would anyone need more than 250HP in a full-size truck, no along in a mid-size truck? I’ve never run out of power in my Ford. When I needed more power pulling stumps and bushes out, I used Low Range. Because of the above reasons, I am pretty much forced into buying a mid-sized truck with a crew/double cab. Sorry if I’m ranting a bit. I’m looking to either buy a Tacoma or Frontier within the next six months. I am leaning toward the Tacoma because we bought a Sienna and the dealer says he can match the Nissan’s lower pricing because we would be repeat buyers. I don’t know if that is a line of B.S., but is worth looking into. That’s my $0.02 worth.
  • I got the dealer to back down off the price about $1800 when all was said and done. I did indeed have a trade in (it was a 99.5 Audi A4 1.8T Quattro with a 5 spd. manual)- they gave me a decent price on the truck and then really low balled me on the Audi big time (supposedly because a manual transmission and black exterior are not desirable here in Atlanta). I expressed my disgust and began to walk and they came back with a much more reasonable offer-I got close to what I wanted per the blue book value and research. Anyhow, the typical games that we all have to play with them.


    I have taken one long trip to Savannah (about 260 miles) and it rode great...I think you feel a few more bumps with the sport TRD package than you would say with a standard SR5 package, but the handling is great for a truck like this which was important to me just coming out of a sporty sedan.


      I've switched back and forth with gas octanes and have gotten a bit over 18mpg in the city and 19-20mpg on the hwy (cruising around 75mph). Not quite as good as the 22mpg on the sticker, but ok. I'm hoping that the engine will get "worn in" and the mileage will go up? I don't believe there was much difference in gas mileage between the different octanes.


    Overall, I'm pretty happy with the truck and have gotten several complements from

    coworkers...including one who wants to trade in his '04 tacoma for the new one since he rode in mine. Dislikes, I have a few - I have the weird suspension noise that some have been complaining about-dealer has gone over it and has ordered new parts (apparently this is a relatively common problem across the country and they now claim to know how to fix it-we'll see). Also, with the sport package comes the hood scoop, which I like the looks of very much....however, I have a silver mica exterior and when the sun hits the scoop just right, it shines right in my face-very annoying. Luckily, it's not often, just in that one spot. Anyhow, good luck with your new Tacoma, which in my opinion, is still the best option in the mid-size truck market today.

    PS Just FYI my other household car is a 2001 Nissan Maxima SE which I would choose any day of the week over a camry...just so you know I'm not strictly a Toyota person.
  • tsikestsikes Posts: 3
    Tarheel, thanks for all the insight. This really helps me. I'll keep in touch once I get my new Tacoma. Tsikes
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    ...I have a '98 Nissan Frontier 2-wheel drive 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual regular cab truck that's a lot more basic than what you all seem to be buying nowadays! It has only 46,000 miles, because I use it primarily for commuting and light hauling around town. However, we also take it to the beach in the spring and fall, so my wife and I can ride our bicycles there. I'd much rather carry the bikes in the truck bed than hanging off the back of our Camry sedan!


    It has been VERY reliable - the sole problem was a faulty (leaking) coolant hose clamp that the dealer failed to fix on 2 tries, but my favorite independent shop fixed properly. NO other problems. (I would have done the clamp myself, but it was in a very hard-to-access location.) There was a "service campaign" (recall) for a faulty A/C line bracket early on, which the dealer took care of, but I've never had any actual A/C problems.


    Since I have both a Toyota and a Nissan, I have no particular bias toward one or the other, so I think you can't go wrong with either the new Frontier or Tacoma.
  • Glad to hear a long time Nissan owner without problems. This is my first Nissan purchase, but a lot of my friends have had PF, Altima, Maxima, Xterra's. They really never had any problems that I was aware of. JD Power looks about the same between the 04 Taco and 04 Frontier. Cost of ownership is higher because of depreciation. Sounds like some people are leaning toward Taco because of reliability, but to me it seems the Frontier has as good of record as the Taco. Does anyone have a reliable source of quality other than "I have a friend who had a friend, who had problems"? Just wondering where everyone gets their information on quality. A new post on the Taco forum now with paint problems now, I hope Nissan did a better job than Toyota this time. I do not want a leaky truck, with a noisy air blower that rattles and the paint comes off.
  • Sorry but I never said "I have a friend who had a friend, who had problems"

    I know he has had these problems because I was the one out there until 2:00am helping to fix the clutch problem and replace the power window motor. I was also the one that picked him up at the dealer when he dropped his truck off to get the AC fixed since that happened when the truck was still under warantee.

    I have noticed that the Nissan cars don't have any problems like that so maybe Nissan will start putting that quality into their trucks!
  • I hope so as well. It has me worried that the Taco has had such problems. Really didn't mean to be sarcastic, but outside of JD Power, consumer report (which seems extremely biased), where do you find good quality data on reliability?
  • I went to the JD Power site and didn't see any info on the 05 frontier or Tacoma.

    As for reliablilty I am going by past experience of owning multiple and knowing people that have owned Nissan trucks. Also the resale value of a Toyota is a lot higher than any other vehicle so that says a lot about their reputation. 10 years ago Toyota had a bigger edge over the rest of the auto companies but now days it is a lot closer. Even still I think Toyota still has a slight edge... Just my opinion. I am just speaking from past experience.
  • I was comparing 04 models. Only thing you can do for now. I would tend to agree that Toyota holds and edge in both resale (big advantage) and reliability. I am more just frustrated that Toyota doesn't offer a lot of amenities with the Taco. Hopefully they will lose some sales because of this and upgrade the options.
  • I do like the Toyotas. I've owned a couple and currently have one to trade in on whatever truck I decide on. I finally saw an 05 Frontier crew cab this past weekend and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I like the looks, impressive tie down rack system in the bed, factory spray in bed liner, and price. Everything appeared to be much improved from the previous models which are also on the lot. I can now say that the Frontier is in the running for my next truck purchase. I'm a little disappointed with some of the quality issues with the new Tacoma but who knows, the Frontier will probably have its own issues. I'll have to see how the Nissan drives. Not real impressed with the wind noise of the new Tacoma. I realize that Toyota will probably hold a higher resale. But as mentioned before, you pay more up front and you get more when you sell it - so its a wash. One of my factors may be my Toyota trade. My local Toyota dealer has been very generous in the past when I have traded in a used Toyota for a new one. Will have to see how it goes...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,152
    My local Toyota dealer has been very generous in the past when I have traded in a used Toyota for a new one. Will have to see how it goes...


    Rewarding customer loyalty? Smart move on the dealer's part because he'll make money on both the rigs anyhow and is likely guaranteeing not only a future purchase from you, but also free references!


    This could also work in your favor with the Nissan dealer, though. If you get to the point of negotiating a purchase, you can just let the dealer know that you are a repeat-buyer of Toyotas and it will take a little extra incentive to win your business. The dealer knows how much he can make off the trade so I wouldn't be afraid to push him a little... Of course, if he doesn't budge, maybe that '05 Tacoma's wind noise is not such a big deal after all!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • mafanmafan Posts: 4
    I "seriously" considered both trucks and went through great pains trying to decide on which one to go with. I actually took each one on three separate test drives (one in the city, one on the highway and one when it was raining). Here is what I found (obviously, this is purely subjective based on my opinion):


    The three main pros for the Frontier are:

    - Frontier has a more powerful engine. I have seen multiple 1/4 times posted for each truck and sometimes the Tacoma is within 1/10 second and other times it is a second behind (I think the differences were probably street vs off-road test). Subjectively though... you can feel it. At low RPMs, the Frontier is just quicker (however, the Tacoma feels quicker at higher RPM).


    - Bed tie-downs. While both have movable rail tie-downs, the Frontier has tracks in bed itself which is much more flexible.


    - Value. For the exact same price (within $80), I could have gotten a 10-speaker 380 watt stereo, sunroof, roof rack, Stability control, Bed Extender, Hill Climb/Decent Assist and a locking rear differential.



    The three main pros for the Tacoma are:

    - Hands-down better driving experience. Handling was better, felt more stable on the road, absorbed bumps better (both Tacoma and Frontier had off-road packages), better transmission, etc. Note that, while the Frontier felt quicker, the Tacoma was no slouch either and actually felt like it had more punch on the highway (versus a standing start) than the Frontier.

    - Exterior design. Frontier looks nice, but the Tacoma IMHO just outshines it in this category.

    - Undeniable reputation for Quality and Reliability


    However, the deal breaker (on behalf of the Tacoma) was:

    - Better interior design, comfort and room. If I am going to be spending a large amount of time in a cabin I want it to be comfortable, nice and ergonomically sound... seats in the Tacoma offer MUCH more support, dash is nicer, more overall room (especially in rear seats), placement of center storage was better (offered better armrest). The interior design of the Frontier is unimpressive (which surprised me for Nissan).


    While both trucks are excellent, I decided on the 2005 Tacoma Double Cab Sport 4x4
  • 307web307web Posts: 1,033
    Too bad.

    The Frontier has the uncomfortable rear seat and the Tacoma is just plain loud inside.

    I suppose Toyota could add more sound insulation in future models more easily than Nissan could improve the rear seats, but neither have done either so it doesn't matter at this point.
  • For more than 2 years, I have been looking for a pickup truck to replace two very different vehicles (a '92 Toyota longbed 1-ton 2WD PU and a '00 Jeep Wrangler Sport). Taken together, both vehicles do everything I want but so far I have found no one vehicle that is the perfect replacement for both. However, with the introduction of the '05 Tacoma and Frontier and the giving up of one requirement (7 ft or longer bed), my "compromise truck" is looking much better.


    TACOMA: I first test drove the '05 Tacoma (4WD Access Cab 6-speed, non-TRD). There was no TRD truck available to test drive, or I would have tried that. Impressions are summarized as follow:


    - Clutch felt radically different from the older Toyota truck clutches. Took more travel before engaging. Did NOT like this change, as I have to start up a very steep hill any time I drive. With my present vehicles, I do not need to use a parking brake or "hill holder."


    - As expected, the engine gave plenty of oomph, including climbing up a famous local highway grade. Both the Tacoma and Frontier 4.0L V6's feel like they have gained a lot of power while *increasing* highway gas mileage--going strictly by the EPA ratings on the latter attribute.


    - Tacoma's handling felt a bit vague and wandery and the ride too soft for my tastes. Steering effort was so light I did not like it in the gusty crosswinds.


    - Hood's tallness obscured view.


    - Dealbreaker #1: the transfer case would not go into 4Lo until many minutes of experimenting, driving a few feet alternately in 1st gear and Reverse. It just keep beeping. (The transmission also beeps when you shift into Reverse, adding to the irritation.) It finally did go into 4Lo, but then it put up the same fight when I tried to return to 4Hi.


    - Dealbreaker #2: I am very skeptical about the composite inner bed. The ads claim that the impact strength is higher than that of steel, but there are other types of "strength" that may be more important in a truck bed. (I don't plan on dropping engines on the bed floor.) Another potential problem is warping due to environmental temperature extremes. I also wonder how the composite inner bed will behave if/when the outer bed twists.


    Basically, I was disappointed after driving the new Tacoma. I would have driven a TRD for comparison if they'd had one (to see if the vague driving feel improved) but that would have still left the 4Lo and composite inner bed as negatives. I have owned 2 Toyota pickup trucks so these comments are coming from a long-time happy Toyota owner.


    FRONTIER: When they finally became available, I test drove 2 Frontiers. First one was a 4WD Crewcab 6-speed, non-NISMO.


    - Right off the bat, the truck lurched forward from a dead stop. No gripes about long clutch travel here! In fact, one time I accidentally peeled out. Then I got used to the clutch. I like it. (In 4Lo, it's not as touchy.)


    - I took this truck up the same famous climb that I drove the Tacoma. Next thing I knew, it was doing 80 mph in 5th gear like nothing--better be careful not to get speeding tickets in either the new Tacoma or Frontier! (The salesman said it could go up it in 6th gear but I wanted to compare apples with apples.)


    - Frontier had good road feel. I felt like I could tell where all 4 wheels were, yet it was still a very smooth ride. Steering was responsive without being too light. Truck was unaffected by crosswinds, but to be fair, they were not as high as they were the night I drove the Tacoma.


    - I made sure the transfer case worked in all modes, and it did without a hitch.


    - The full steel bed with spray-on coating and cargo tie-down rails will be just the ticket for my needs.


    - I went back and test drove a NISMO 4WD Kingcab (automatic; there were no 6-speed NISMOs available). Basically, I just took this one over some speed bumps. I preferred the stiffer suspension (as expected, based on my appreciation of the 1-ton PU's ride) as well as wanting the locking differential, skid plates, and so on.


    Soooooo, I ordered a 4WD Kingcab NISMO 6-speed with tow package and "bed utility package." With mudflaps, all-season floor mats, body side moulding, and bug shield, it came to about $24,650 plus another $250 destination and handling (of course), or $24,900. I got this price by dealing exclusively with the Internet sales rep. It is at least $470 less than the "no-haggle" dealership's price quote for the same configuration, which itself is below MSRP.


    I hate to lose my 7 ft bed, but if I make better use of the space fore and aft of the wheel wells, I should be able to get by with the 6 ft bed.


    Now I just gotta sell my existing truck and Jeep while I wait.
  • badnessbadness Posts: 242
    Hey Great review,waiting for my dealer in NJ too call me and come test drive the king cab le 4wD,

    but I want the auto,TOOOOOO much traffic in NJ for 6speed even if its alot of fun I wont even enjoy if you no what I mean.

    can you let me know what your truck is like when you get it, email me. lgdead optonline net


    fill in the lug nuts if you understand me.


    thanks man.

  • kay7kay7 Posts: 1
    I agree. I think the biggest sell point when I visited the Taco dealer was that Toyota has a high rep for reliability. He also keeps talking about resale value--I see its importance, but at the same time Im talking about BUYING the truck, not planning when i will sell it.


    It cant be denied that they do have a good rep. But Toyota has let the competition creep up, and truth is Frontier is every bit a mid-size power house (if not more) than the Taco. In fact the sport pack on the Frontier might be a bit better (skid plates and clearance). Toyota has also become excessively pricey over the years.


    Im planning to buy the Frontier so far, but Im still shopping all the details before deciding which one. Toyota has not impressed me so far.
  • I have owned 3 Toyota P/U's over the past 10 years. Toyota has become a whole lot "pricey" over the years. I to am in the market for a new truck and I am leaning toward the Nissan Frontier also. Toyota has definitely let the competition creep up, and the Frontier has gone further (more HP, more standard options, and LOWER PRICE. Also with what I am reading in posts from this site and other sites, the leaking and other problems with the 2005's has me worried and thinking that Toyota quality has slipped.


    Resale? Nobody knows what will be the difference between the new Frontier and the new Tacoma since the playing field has changed. I think it will be very close.


    I can buy a new Nissan for $2,500 less than a new Tacoma now (with the same options), but I noticed that Tacoma now has a $1,000 rebate. The only problem is that the rebate is only if you finance for 48 months or less (as if anyone can afford a $30K midsize truck with a note for 48 months) (what a joke). The only reason Toyota has put on a $1,000 rebate is to get consumers to the dealership and then drop the bomb that it is only if you finance for 48 months. I guess Nissan has put a crunch on their expected sales.


    I know that over the years Toyota has proven great dependability and reliability, but as for me, I will either buy a Frontier now, or wait for the 06' Tacoma.
  • Price is what has sent me to look at the frontier. Sorry, but $30k, before ttl, is just too much for a small pickup. From what I have seen, out the door on a double cab 4x4 will be more like a $3k difference between the nissan and taco. Nissan's bed feels exceptionally solid too. I'll be buying later this year, so I can wait for both to cool down. I also want to see if the quality issues persist with the tacoma.
  • I think you are completely correct. If you can wait, I definitely would. The Taco is really having some problems, who knows with the Frontier yet. The Ridgeline will also steal some business (very interesting "truck", ugliest thing I have ever seen). Hopefully all the competition will cause some rebates (and force Toyota to put more features on the Taco, one of the biggest reasons I am not buying one).
  • As a current 1999 Honda accord owner, I also think the Ridgline is hideous, at least in the pics I've seen. Sometimes I think Honda needs to start offering a better vision plan for its designers. The new accord, the element (yeah, I know, it's "funky-cool"), and now the ridgeline, all make me want to cry.
  • Resale value matters but it takes a back seat to utility. What good does it do to buy something that costs $2000 more, is worth $2000 more years later (which would make it a wash), but doesn't do the job as well as the "lower resale value" truck? (which makes it not such a good value after all!)


    Sorry, Toyota, but that composite bed has gotta go--or at least be tested more and improved before using customers as guinea pigs. (Didn't Chevy try that on their full size trucks a few years ago and dump it?) Someone posted a msg on the Tacoma section noting that at least two makers of slide-in campers will not be making models for the new Tacoma, because of questions concerning the composite bed.


    Also, anybody who wants to go 4-wheeling had better take a hard look at the Tacoma's transfer case problems. If you can't go between 4Lo and 4Hi, you will be sorry at the worst time. And if the locking differential only works in 4Lo (as in the Frontier) there's another problem with not being able to go into 4Lo.


    Preferences on ride quality are subjective, but whether equipment WORKS reliably is not not.


    I have the glossy manufacturer brochures from both Toyota and Nissan. (The local Toyota dealers were only providing Internet website printouts showing what was available "in our region," which p*ssed me off, so I sent for the real thing which has lots more info in it.) It's obvious that Toyota has chosen to focus its marketing on 20-something guys looking for cool toys to carry maybe a dirt bike in. While that's a perfectly good use for the truck, it seems that they have gradually become less suitable for other uses, while still costing considerably more than the competition.


    Then they try to get you to buy the full size truck if you want a "real" truck. Oh, please. Not everybody wants to drive a giant truck with its lesser gas mileage, reduced maneuverability, and "big truck feel." It's not just a matter of city driving/parking/garage length; on jeep trails, smaller is better also.


    It looks to me like "Number 2" has tried harder while Number 1 has been resting on its laurels. While buying any new model is a gamble, I'll take my chances on better utility over predicted superior resale value any day.



    Dodge had better improve the Dakota, because it's no longer the only contender in the mid-size category.
  • 2k1trd2k1trd Posts: 301
    Oh my god have you seen the new Frontier comercial? The thing is bottoming out like crazy in the off road portion of the scene.The Tacoma has way better suspension and always will be a way better built truck in my opinion.Even though the new Taco is having some minor issues,i still would buy it over the Nissan.The Frontier still looks like the old hard body front end and has no tire clearance and just looks low and dumb.Oh and the "nismo" stupid
  • 3Tacoma,

    Where did you see a $1000 rebate on the new Tacoma? I can't find it anywhere in Southern California, nor on the Toyota corporate site.
  • "No tire clearance" could be deceiving. TRD tires are P265/70R16 and NISMO tires are P265/75R16 (taken straight from the Toyota and Nissan catalogs). Too bad neither maker is supplying TRUCK tires instead of P's. Of course, you can't tell this from TV ads.


    Both TRD and NISMO decals look like little-boy-toy stickers.


    If you want to avoid bottoming out, get a 2WD designed for heavy payloads. Neither the Tacoma nor Frontier 4WD models have impressive payload ratings.


    Do you know specifically what suspension items are on the Tacoma? Neither the Tacoma nor Frontier catalogs provides anywhere near the detail that my old Wrangler catalog did (i.e., "Dana 44 rear axle", gearing info, torque vs. hp curves...).
  • On the Edmunds invoice pricing page for new vehicles. After you build your vehicle and see the TMV price, the incentive is located under the TMV price. Click on it and it shows a $1,000 rebate for max term of 48 months. I live in Louisiana so maybe it is only offered in Southeast area.
  • dreasdaddreasdad Posts: 276
    The rebate is only for those who finanace with a lease or balloon payment through TMCC. If you pay cash or do conv finance there is no rebate. Thats why the term is 48 months. TMCC doesn't like to do residaul based longer than that
  • badnessbadness Posts: 242
    dude you onwn a car you need too drive a truck or owned truck before you start talking about anything on nissans page
  • badnessbadness Posts: 242
    so what do you drive ,Mr. know it all, I ownend a 89 and a 93 took it too the test in the mountains and nothing was too hard for them ,get the facts stright before you run you mouth!!!!!!!!!!

    THe Nissans are great Trucks!!
This discussion has been closed.