2021 Toyota Tacoma vs 2022 Nissan Frontier

2021 Toyota Tacoma
2021 Toyota Tacoma
$26,400MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2022 Nissan Frontier
2022 Nissan Frontier
$28,690MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Toyota Tacoma
$26,400MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Nissan Frontier
$28,690MSRP
Overview
Overview
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CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Toyota Tacoma was 6.5 out of 10, while the 2022 Nissan Frontier scored 8.3 out of 10. The Tacoma has earned a reputation for reliability and off-road prowess, but the Frontier’s modern upgrades, powerful engine, and comfortable interior place it ahead in this comparison. Based on these expert ratings, the 2022 Nissan Frontier is the recommended choice, offering a better balance of comfort, technology, and performance for consumers in the midsize truck market.

Overview

MSRP

$26,400

MSRP

$28,690

Average price

$35,782

Average price

$30,556

Listings

4416

Listings

1889
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

6.5 out of 10

Expert reviews

8.3 out of 10
Pros
  • Manual transmission available
  • Easy-to-use technology
  • Excellent off-road capability
Cons
  • Sluggish performance
  • Poor handling
  • Underwhelming base engine
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Impressive technology
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Steering feels heavy
  • Poor fuel economy

2021 Toyota Tacoma Reviews Summary

Last redesigned for the 2016 model year, The Tacoma once dominated midsize-truck sales. In recent years, though, it’s faced stronger competition from the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, the Ford Ranger, and the Jeep Gladiator. A redesigned Nissan Frontier and heavily-updated Honda Ridgeline are also on the way.

Meanwhile, the Tacoma enters the 2021 model year largely unchanged. The only updates are two new special editions—the Nightshade Edition and Trail Special Edition—and standard dual-zone automatic climate control on all V6 models.

Pickup truck buyers tend to want choices, and Toyota delivers. The Tacoma is available with four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, Access Cab and four-door Double Cab body styles, rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), and six trim levels— SR, SR5, TRD Off Road, TRD Sport, Limited, and TRD Pro—plus the two special editions.

Our test vehicle was a Tacoma TRD Pro Double Cab. The TRD Pro is the most off-road focused of the Tacoma models, so naturally, it gets standard 4WD drive. While Toyota does offer a more comfort-oriented Tacoma Limited model, the TRD Pro is also positioned at the top of the lineup.

Search for a Toyota Tacoma on CarGurus

2022 Nissan Frontier Reviews Summary

As they say, “better late than never.” After 17 years, we can finally call the Nissan Frontier an all-new truck. Mostly. While the 2022 model looks, feels, and drives completely differently from the 2021 model, it still rides on the same platform as that previous-generation truck, albeit an extensively modified version.

Old bones or not, it’s nearly impossible to confuse the 2022 model year Frontier with the old truck. Updated styling, an enhanced powertrain, a comfortable cabin, and real off-road capability combine to give it a notable advantage against a set of aging competitors from Ford, General Motors, and Toyota.

Popular Features & Specs

Engine

2.7L 159 hp I4

Engine

3.8L 310 hp V6

Drive Train

4X2

Drive Train

4X2

Seating Capacity

4

Seating Capacity

4

Horsepower

159 hp @ 5200 rpm

Horsepower

310 hp @ 6400 rpm

MPG City

20

MPG City

18

MPG Highway

23

MPG Highway

24
2021 Toyota Tacoma
2021 Toyota Tacoma
$26,400MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Nissan Frontier
2022 Nissan Frontier
$28,690MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Toyota Tacoma
$26,400MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2022 Nissan Frontier
$28,690MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Toyota Tacoma was 6.5 out of 10, while the 2022 Nissan Frontier scored 8.3 out of 10. The Tacoma has earned a reputation for reliability and off-road prowess, but the Frontier’s modern upgrades, powerful engine, and comfortable interior place it ahead in this comparison. Based on these expert ratings, the 2022 Nissan Frontier is the recommended choice, offering a better balance of comfort, technology, and performance for consumers in the midsize truck market.

Overview
MSRP
$26,400
$28,690
Average price
$35,782
$30,556
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.9
4.5
Expert reviews

6.5 out of 10

Read full review

8.3 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Manual transmission available
  • Easy-to-use technology
  • Excellent off-road capability
Cons
  • Sluggish performance
  • Poor handling
  • Underwhelming base engine
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Impressive technology
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Steering feels heavy
  • Poor fuel economy
Summary

Last redesigned for the 2016 model year, The Tacoma once dominated midsize-truck sales. In recent years, though, it’s faced stronger competition from the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins, the Ford Ranger, and the Jeep Gladiator. A redesigned Nissan Frontier and heavily-updated Honda Ridgeline are also on the way.

Meanwhile, the Tacoma enters the 2021 model year largely unchanged. The only updates are two new special editions—the Nightshade Edition and Trail Special Edition—and standard dual-zone automatic climate control on all V6 models.

Pickup truck buyers tend to want choices, and Toyota delivers. The Tacoma is available with four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, Access Cab and four-door Double Cab body styles, rear-wheel drive (RWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), and six trim levels— SR, SR5, TRD Off Road, TRD Sport, Limited, and TRD Pro—plus the two special editions.

Our test vehicle was a Tacoma TRD Pro Double Cab. The TRD Pro is the most off-road focused of the Tacoma models, so naturally, it gets standard 4WD drive. While Toyota does offer a more comfort-oriented Tacoma Limited model, the TRD Pro is also positioned at the top of the lineup.

Search for a Toyota Tacoma on CarGurus

As they say, “better late than never.” After 17 years, we can finally call the Nissan Frontier an all-new truck. Mostly. While the 2022 model looks, feels, and drives completely differently from the 2021 model, it still rides on the same platform as that previous-generation truck, albeit an extensively modified version.

Old bones or not, it’s nearly impossible to confuse the 2022 model year Frontier with the old truck. Updated styling, an enhanced powertrain, a comfortable cabin, and real off-road capability combine to give it a notable advantage against a set of aging competitors from Ford, General Motors, and Toyota.

Video
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
2.7L 159 hp I4
3.8L 310 hp V6
Drive Train
4X2
4X2
Seating Capacity
4
4
Horsepower
159 hp @ 5200 rpm
310 hp @ 6400 rpm
MPG City
20
18
MPG Highway
23
24
Look and feel
2021 Toyota Tacoma
8/10
2022 Nissan Frontier
8/10
When it came to exterior design, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma was the quintessential pickup truck. It boasted classic truck styling elements like boxy fender flares, a tall hood, and a prominent shield-like grille. The design was characterized by sharp, ruler-straight lines, giving it a more traditional truck appearance compared to the more streamlined looks of competitors like the Ford Ranger and General Motors' midsize twins. Unlike larger trucks with exaggerated features, the Tacoma maintained a relatively restrained aesthetic, even compared to Toyota’s own Tundra. Different Tacoma models featured unique styling cues. The new-for-2021 Trail Edition sported 16-inch TRD Off-Road alloy wheels and the grill from the Tacoma Limited, all while offering special color options. The Nightshade Edition came with blacked-out trims. Meanwhile, the TRD Pro model had distinct features such as block-letter "Toyota" grille, blacked-out hood and fender flares, Rigid Industries LED fog lights, and an exclusive Lunar Rock paint. Just like most of its pickup counterparts (with the Honda Ridgeline as a notable exception), the Tacoma employed body-on-frame construction, known for its benefits in towing and off-road capability, although it usually impacted ride comfort and handling quality negatively. Toyota discontinued the basic two-door cab, offering only the Access Cab and Double Cab. The Access Cab came with rear half doors, while the Double Cab featured full-size four doors. Access Cab models had a 127.4-inch wheelbase with a 73.7-inch bed. Double Cab models offered both a 127.4-inch wheelbase with a 60.5-inch bed, and a 140.6-inch wheelbase with a 73.7-inch bed. Inside, the Tacoma mirrored its rugged exterior with a similarly robust dashboard composed of chunky plastic elements. While the material quality seemed serviceable at the base price, it felt less justified in the higher-end TRD Pro model, even with optional leather upholstery. Still, it was somewhat reasonable considering the number of features and the model’s off-road focus. In comparison, the 2022 Nissan Frontier emerged as part of Nissan’s ambitious “Nissan Next” strategy, representing a significant leap in design refresh after other models like the Kicks and Armada. The Frontier drew inspiration from the 1980s-90s Nissan Hardbody pickup, with project lead designer Hiren Patel describing the design process as shaping a solid block of metal. Available in nine exterior colors, including Tactical Green and Boulder Gray Pearl, the Frontier also boasted two interior shades—charcoal and sandstone. The test truck came in a Baja Storm hue with charcoal leather seats unique to the off-road PRO-4X and 2WD PRO-X trims. The 2022 Frontier was marginally longer than its predecessor, especially in the nose, but still appropriate for garages and parking spaces. It didn’t compete with compact pickups like the Ford Maverick or Hyundai Santa Cruz, nor with larger midsize options like the Jeep Gladiator or Honda Ridgeline. Instead, it directly targeted the Toyota Tacoma. The Frontier was offered in King Cab and Crew Cab forms, without a basic two-door cab option. King Cab models had a 6-foot bed, and Crew Cabs offered a standard 5-foot bed or an optional 6-foot bed in SV trims. The Frontier included available spray-in bedliner, optional LED bed lighting, and a three-channel tie-down system. Its tailgate featured an integrated spoiler for improved aerodynamics. Inside, the Frontier was a significant step up in the segment. It boasted comfortable front seats with Nissan’s Zero Gravity technology, enhanced insulation for reduced noise, and a more versatile center console for storage. The 80 optional accessories, like a sport bar for the truck bed and off-road step rails, underscored Nissan's intent to tap into the customization market.
Performance
2021 Toyota Tacoma
7/10
2022 Nissan Frontier
7/10
Toyota offered two engine choices for the 2021 Tacoma. The base models were powered by a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. An optional 3.5-liter V6 engine delivered a robust 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. The V6 employed Toyota's D4S fuel-injection system for optimal fuel efficiency. The four-cylinder engine was paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, whereas the V6 could be coupled with either the same automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox. The optional part-time 4WD system included low range and a standard electronic rear limited-slip differential, with a fully locking rear differential available as well. The Tacoma’s coil-spring front and leaf-spring rear suspension constituted a solid foundation for off-road capabilities, enhanced in the TRD models. The TRD Off-Road version included a locking rear differential, upgraded suspension with Bilstein shocks, Multi-Terrain Select drive modes, and Crawl Control. The TRD Pro further upgraded with Fox internal-bypass shocks, a 1-inch front lift, retuned rear suspension with progressive-rate leaf springs, a front skid plate, and wider wheels. Both models featured Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar-reinforced all-terrain tires. Despite its off-road prowess, the TRD Pro model didn’t impress on regular roads. It maintained a traditional truck feel, lacking car-like handling seen in Ford and GM midsize trucks. It demanded careful cornering and anticipated braking, typical of traditional trucks. The TRD Pro’s cabin was notably quiet, but the ride quality was poor, and acceleration from the V6 engine felt sluggish. Essentially, the Tacoma boasted a maximum towing capacity of 6,800 pounds and a maximum payload capacity of 1,685 pounds, but only in specific configurations, making these figures somewhat deceptive. Conversely, the 2022 Nissan Frontier’s standout feature was its engine. The 3.8-liter V6, first introduced in 2020, was retuned for the heavier 2022 model, delivering an impressive 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. This engine provided excellent acceleration and considerable passing power on highways. It featured a tow mode to optimize shift points for better performance when towing, with a maximum payload of 1,610 pounds and a towing capacity of 6,720 pounds. While these figures were not class-leading, they were substantial, suitable for most midsize truck needs. The Frontier’s nine-speed automatic transmission, supporting either rear-wheel drive or 4WD with 4-Hi and 4-Lo modes, contributed to a seamless driving experience. The transmission’s responsiveness in varied driving conditions was commendable, but the hydraulic steering system, chosen over an electric one, made the Frontier feel heavier and more cumbersome in urban settings—a potential drawback compared to the Tacoma. For off-road enthusiasts, the PRO-4X trim offered hill-start assist, hill-descent control, an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, steel underbody skid plates, and an aluminum front skid plate. The Frontier’s best-in-class approach angle of 32.3 degrees was a highlight, and an off-road mode integrated into the surround-view monitor enhanced its trail capabilities. Those preferring the PRO-4X aesthetics but not requiring 4WD could opt for the 2WD PRO-X trim. It retained the styling cues but omitted the locking diff and skid plates.
Form and function
2021 Toyota Tacoma
6/10
2022 Nissan Frontier
9/10
Despite being a popular choice for a midsize truck with daily use, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab fell short in terms of interior space. It offered one of the smallest cabins in its class, with particularly cramped rear headroom and legroom. Even the front seats offered below-average space. The combination of limited headroom and a short windshield created a bunker-like feel, while the tall hood impaired forward visibility. The rear seats in the Tacoma folded up to reveal storage cubbies, providing secure in-cab storage. Other storage options inside the cab were sparse, though a wireless charging pad was a noteworthy feature. The bed itself did not include innovative storage solutions but came with a standard rail system with tie-down cleats and an optional 120-volt outlet. The bed’s composite material was a rust-free, lightweight alternative to steel. In contrast, the 2022 Nissan Frontier set a new comfort benchmark in the midsize truck category, especially with its front seating. Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats were exceptionally comfortable, setting it apart from competitors like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. The Frontier’s cabin felt spacious and well-designed, particularly in the front seats, where it excelled in comfort and utility. However, rear-seat space in the Frontier, particularly in the King Cab, left much to be desired. The King Cab’s rear seats were strictly utilitarian, best for occasional use or cargo rather than transporting passengers. The Crew Cab offered better rear-seat accommodations, yet still limited compared to full-size pickups. In terms of in-cab storage, the Frontier provided sensible options, including under-the-rear-seat storage in the Crew Cab. With eight strategically placed cupholders, four of which could hold 32-ounce bottles, it catered to practical needs better than most rivals. Comparing the payload and towing capacities, the Frontier offered respectable figures but remained very close to the Tacoma’s capacities. The Tacoma’s 6,800-pound towing and 1,685-pound payload figures slightly outpaced the Frontier’s 6,720 pounds and 1,610 pounds, respectively. However, both trucks provided ample capacity for typical midsize truck tasks.
Technology
2021 Toyota Tacoma
6/10
2022 Nissan Frontier
10/10
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma came with practical tech features, though it wasn’t the leader in this department. The base SR trim featured a 7-inch touchscreen, while other models offered an 8-inch display. Standard across all trims were Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM satellite radio (with a three-month trial). Higher trims could opt for a six-speaker JBL audio system with a subwoofer. While functional, the Tacoma’s infotainment system wasn’t particularly outstanding. The touchscreen interface was responsive, with useful shortcut buttons and accessible steering wheel controls. However, the graphics were rather plain, and the system lacked advanced features beyond basic navigation and phone connectivity. Our TRD Pro model also included a Multi-Terrain Monitor surround-view camera, useful both for off-road and parking maneuvers. The 2022 Nissan Frontier, having undergone significant tech enhancements, stood out in this category. It featured a standard 8-inch touchscreen on the base S and SV trims, while the PRO-4X trim boasted a vibrant and clear 9-inch display. The infotainment interface was user-friendly, with physical knobs for essential functions like volume and tuning, supplemented by large, easy-to-manage on-screen icons. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were standard, though they required a wired connection. The Frontier could be outfitted with a wireless phone charger and an optional Kicker tailgate audio system. Crew Cab models included four USB ports, catering to modern connectivity needs. Additionally, the optional 10-speaker Fender stereo provided excellent sound quality, though its inclusion in an expensive package was a downside. Nissan offered three primary packages: the Premium Package, the Technology Package, and the Convenience Package, encompassing various comfort and safety features, ensuring the Frontier was well-equipped for modern driving demands.
Safety
2021 Toyota Tacoma
7/10
2022 Nissan Frontier
7/10
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma performed well in safety evaluations. The IIHS awarded it top “Good” scores in all but the passenger-side small overlap front test, where it received an “Acceptable” rating. Its headlights varied between “Good” and “Marginal” ratings, depending on trim, but it secured a top “Superior” rating for front-crash prevention technology. NHTSA ratings were four stars overall, with a breakdown of four stars in frontal and rollover tests, and five stars in side crashes. Standard safety features in the Tacoma were forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Compared to the Ford Ranger, though, it lacked features like lane-keep assist and a trailer-coverage capable blind-spot monitoring system. While the 2022 Nissan Frontier had not been crash-tested by NHTSA or IIHS by the time of reporting, it was expected to surpass the previous generation's middling scores. The Frontier was well-equipped with Nissan Safety Shield 360, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver attention monitor, intelligent forward-collision warning, trailer sway control, and rear-door alert. It also featured eight airbags and optional safety upgrades like adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and rear sonar.
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By: CarGurus + AI

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