Performance and Handling Winner: Toyota Tacoma
The all-new-for 2024 Tacoma employs a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder making 278 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. The Frontier’s 3.8-litre V6 is higher at 310 horsepower, but it trails at 281 lb-ft, and torque is an important number with trucks. American buyers can also get the base Tacoma SR with its 2.4-litre tuned to 228 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque.
Both trucks come in 4×2 or 4×4 in the U.S., while in the Canadian market they’re 4×4-only; and in both it’s a part-time system, meaning you can use four-wheel on loose surfaces only, not pavement. The Frontier can tow up to 6,640 lbs; it’s a maximum 6,500 for Tacoma. But as an everyday driver, the Toyota has livelier and better-weighted steering feel, and more responsive handling; and while both of them have a smooth ride, the Tacoma seems more composed. The Tacoma also offers a hybrid powertrain in addition to its gasoline-only version.
Interior Winner: Toyota Tacoma
Both have simple-to-use controls, but the buttons on the Toyota’s steering wheel are shaped to curl intuitively around one’s thumbs, and the dials for temperature and drive modes are larger than the Frontier’s, better for grasping with gloves. Design preference is subjective, and the Tacoma wins it by the slimmest of margins: the dash is chunky and squared-off, and looks more up-to-date than the Frontier’s more SUV-ish styling.
The Toyota also includes some useful features, such as cupholders or storage at the back of the centre console for rear-seat passengers, and a wireless charger that accommodates two phones. The last-generation Tacoma’s weak point was its too-low seating position that could cramp one’s legs, but this all-new version fixes that, with a more upright seat that’s now on par with the Frontier for comfort.
Related: Inside the 2024 Tacoma: Exploring 7 New Interior Features
Styling Winner: Nissan Frontier
In Canada and the U.S., the Frontier comes in extended King Cab or four-door Crew. The Toyota offers a four-door Crew in both markets, but only American buyers can opt for its extended Xtra Cab, at least for now. Both are good-looking vehicles, but the Frontier gets the slight nod here.
It’s smoother-sided to the Tacoma’s sharp-edged body lines, and the curves in its wheel arches look better as they wrap around the wheels, to the Tacoma’s longer and straighter design. The Toyota has more attractive taillights but far busier rear bumper styling, while the Frontier has more big-truck front design. Both look good, though, and it comes down to the little differences in deciding a champion.
Takeaway: Why the Toyota Tacoma is the Better Buy
The Nissan Frontier has a lower starting price, but the Toyota Tacoma offers bang for the buck. It can be ordered with a hybrid powertrain, or with a six-speed manual transmission if you prefer to row your own gears, while the Frontier has a single engine option.
For off-road adventures, the Tacoma has a multi-terrain selector and crawl control, which works like low-speed cruise control when you’re off the asphalt. Its steering and handling are better overall than the Frontier, and offers features such as an available power open-and-close tailgate. The Tacoma’s historic popularity and reliability will likely result in higher resale value down the road, too. The Frontier is good value, but the Tacoma gets the edge here.