2012 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2012 Nissan Frontier: Which One Should I Buy?

The smaller truck category includes those vehicles for men (and women!) who just want to scoot around town but who are opposed to driving a small car and just prefer a truck. These relatively fuel-efficient vehicles offer little in the way of comfort or amenities, but they do make for a decent commuter truck or a truck for someone who will be hauling small loads and doesn’t need heavy towing power.

The Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier are small but mighty, offering a fair bit of room in the cab and decent horsepower to boot. Their 180 and 171 ft lbs of torque respectively provide a good bit of get up and go, and the RWD with a 5-speed transmission gives them extra oomph.

Nissan Frontier
2012 Nissan Frontier

Fuel Economy

While no small trucks in this category are stellar, the decent 21 and 19 mpg offered by these two entrants will not break the bank. The highway fuel economy of the 25 mpg Tacoma outstrips the 23 mpg for the Frontier but not by a stellar percentage. Both of these small trucks share a 21.1-gallon fuel capacity.

Interior and Technology Options

Where the Tacoma really shines is in the entertainment and technology features. An AM/FM stereo comes standard, as does the MP3 capability and an additional auxiliary input jack and speed-sensitive volume. The Frontier offers none of these choices, and the completely stripped-down version can’t even get these as options. The Frontier does offer additional cup holders as well as carpeted interior instead of rubber floor mats, but the manual windows and lack of an air filter make the Frontier a very basic offering indeed.

Safety and Security

Curtain airbags on both the first and second row are standard for the Frontier, making it slightly improved from a safety perspective. Both vehicles maintain halogen headlights, and adjustable height seatbelts, but the Tacoma adds on standard LED taillights, illuminated entry, low tire pressure warnings, traction control, auto-off exterior lights, and parking assist that the Frontier does not even have as optional. Door locks are manual on both of these small truck offerings, and occupancy sensors are available for the airbags on both trucks.

If you are looking for a basic, small truck then either of these options would be acceptable to most consumers. You will get a slightly more refined product if you go with the Toyota Tacoma.


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Attila

19 years of experience
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Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
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Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

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