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The midsize truck category is filled with noteworthy contenders, but the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are two main standouts. Both trucks have been in the market for decades and provide truck buyers with different attributes despite their similarities. I have had the privilege of testing out the 2023 Nissan Frontier and a few variations of the Toyota Tacoma and found that the Nissan bests the Toyota in a few ways, except for one.

Toyota Tacoma driving off road
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Nissan Frontier feels more refined on the road than the Toyota Tacoma

A front corner view of the 2023 Nissan Frontier
2023 Nissan Frontier | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Although both of these trucks are very competent on an off-road trail, most buyers will drive them on the road 95% of the time. Considering this, I found that the 2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X I recently tested felt more refined than any Toyota Tacoma I have been in.

By “refined,” I mean that its suspension felt steady over road imperfections, its steering felt nicely weighted, and its V6 engine felt responsive without sounding like it was struggling to get up a hill. On the other hand, the Toyota Tacoma felt lazy when accelerating, and it seemed like it took forever to get up to speed. Keep in mind that every Tacoma I have tested was powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 engine, but a less-powerful four-cylinder engine is available.

That said, the Nissan Frontier was better for everyday driving with its 310-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine, which is standard across all trim levels. And although my PRO-4X tester was equipped with a sportier suspension consisting of Bilstein shocks, it felt steadier on-road than the Fox suspension on the Tacoma TRD Pro.

Additionally, the Frontier’s steering felt nicely weighted when driving, which made it feel as sporty as its PRO-4X moniker dictates. I could tell which way the wheels were pointing when turning, thanks to the feedback from the steering. But with the numb steering feel in the Tacoma, I could not. However, it’s worth noting that the steering effort is very heavy at parking lot speeds, and its turning radius is really shallow.

The Tacoma’s turning radius is better, and its steering effort is lighter, which is good for parking lot situations but not so much at higher speeds.

The Nissan Frontier has a more modern cabin than the Toyota Tacoma

Nissan updated the Frontier for the 2022 model year, which included a new interior. I was blown away by the truck’s interior as it felt modern and high-tech compared to the Tacoma’s. To be fair, the Tacoma is slated to be redesigned soon, so I look forward to seeing what the new version will look like.

However, since I have only tested the current models, the Frontier wins out. The Frontier’s low beltline and large window openings make it easier to see out of, and its in-cabin tech is newer. The nine-inch touchscreen is easy to navigate and reach from either seat, and its rearview camera has a better resolution compared to the Tacoma’s.

There’s one area the Tacoma beats out the Frontier

2022 Toyota Tacoma rear corner view
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Everything considered, it’s safe to say that I like the 2023 Nissan Frontier more than the Toyota Tacoma. However, I will admit that the Tacoma beats out the Frontier in one important way: resale value.

According to MotorTrend, the Toyota Tacoma should retain up to 63.5% of its original value after five years, while the Nissan Frontier only holds 58% of its original value. This difference in resale value could be due to the Frontier’s lower reliability rating compared to the Tacoma.

If you’re in the market for a midsize truck and are deciding between these two, the Toyota Tacoma is sure to last for many years and maintain its value. But if you’re looking more toward performance and design, the Nissan Frontier could be the better choice.