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Midsize trucks are coming back into fashion, and truck manufacturers are rapidly beginning to realize how important it is to offer a solid model to keep up with the competition. This year, Nissan starts a new generation for the 2022 Frontier, updating virtually everything about its midsize truck to bring it into the segment with a fresh new face. Toyota has its own midsize truck that has been favored for its off-road capability in the Tacoma, though it sees only minimal changes for the 2022 model year. In terms of the two trucks, 2022 Nissan Frontier vs 2022 Toyota Tacoma, only one truck comes with a class-leading amount of horsepower. Spoiler alert: it’s not the Toyota.
Each of the two midsize trucks offers several trim levels, all of which can be optioned with four-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive is standard. Nissan gives buyers one powertrain for the lineup in its capable V6 engine, while Toyota has two engine options. While that may appear like a positive for Toyota, anyone who has driven the Tacoma with its four-cylinder engine will most likely tell you to skip it and choose the V6. Both trucks have the capability to tow over 6,500 pounds with the proper equipment, and a payload over 1600 pounds offers plenty of power for hauling in the bed. When needing to secure cargo, each midsize truck has a cargo system with sliding rails that makes tying down items simple with its flexibility for handling cargo of various sizes.
For off-roading, both Nissan and Toyota offer rugged capability to enthusiasts who spend a lot of time on the trail, and each truck has numerous trims at varying pricing to provide options, depending on the level of seriousness an enthusiast may have. As is typical of trucks, each brand also offers numerous configurations of bed and cab sizes, as well as a number of packages or accessories that can be added to customize your truck for either the road or the trail. While the Toyota Tacoma may have its attributes, the 2022 Frontier is certainly giving the Tacoma a run for the money with its updated, sleek style and overhauled design.
For off-roading, midsize trucks are popular because they tend to be lighter and easier to maneuver than larger trucks if you trail ride for fun. Both the 2022 Frontier and 2022 Tacoma offer very capable off-road trims that are as rugged as they come, but Nissan has one advantage over the rest of the midsize class: it has the best-in-class standard engine with its naturally-aspirated 3.8-liter V6. When off-roading, the Frontier’s V6 has better horsepower and torque than any other midsize truck, with 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the 2022 Tacoma, even its more powerful available 3.5-liter V6 only produces 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers will certainly make a difference on tough terrain.
When you’re not driving the off-road versions of these trucks, Nissan continues to provide every trim with the same V6 engine power across the lineup. Toyota, on the other hand, starts buyers with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that offers only meager capability with 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. To get the V6 engine costs over $2,000 more, which makes the base price higher than what you would pay for the 2022 Frontier with the standard V6. Towing and payload capacity for both trucks with the V6 engine are about the same, yet the Nissan V6 is paired to a superior nine-speed automatic transmission. Toyota pairs its engines to a six-speed transmission that can be either manual or automatic, but neither can compare to the updated Nissan automatic.
In terms of off-road performance, the 2022 Frontier gains a number of upgrades for its new generation, including improved steering and chassis, which directly affect how the Frontier handles on rough terrain. Models equipped with four-wheel drive - which is available for all trims - already have a transfer case with hi and lo modes and hill descent control, then the PRO 4X trim adds Bilstein shocks, underbody skid plates, and an electronic locking rear differential. Toyota delivers similar equipment with its TRD Off-Road trim, with the exception being Fox shocks in contrast to the Bilstein. With the updated suspension and chassis, however, the 2022 Frontier will have a superior ride quality both on and off the trail in comparison to the dated Tacoma build. For everyday driving, the Tacoma is much rougher.
If you want a midsize truck that can function as a daily driver with passengers, the 2022 Frontier offers a more comfortable interior space with more storage for small items. The updated interior of the new Frontier certainly gives the passenger space welcome comforts like soft-touch materials and a fresher appearance. In the front, Nissan’s NASA-inspired zero-gravity seats are found across the trims and provide support for long drives. Infotainment features improve for 2022 with a standard eight-inch touchscreen that comes loaded with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and upper trims gain a larger nine-inch screen and the option of a premium Fender audio system.
Toyota continues to hold out on modernizing its dated interior for the 2022 Tacoma, and most of the hard plastics and lack of storage remain an issue this year. The slightly smaller standard touchscreen at seven inches isn’t too troubling, and the Tacoma does come with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to remain competitive. Where the biggest difference between the interiors may be found is in the passenger space, especially for rear-seat passengers. In the Tacoma, countless reviewers have complained about the excessively small space in the rear seats, particularly for the Access Cab. At a slim 24.6 inches of legroom, even kids may have trouble being comfortable.
A larger Double Cab for the Tacoma still only has 32.6 inches of legroom, and the 2022 Frontier has more space at 26.2 and 33.2 inches for its King and Crew cabs. Storage in the Frontier is better with more bins and pockets for stashing small items in the cabin and more charging ports for devices. If a digital instrument display is an important feature to you, the 2022 Frontier has a large seven-inch gauge cluster that easily out-does the 4.2-inch analog display in the Tacoma, which once again looks dated. Both trucks will have similarly upgraded conveniences in upper trims with heated seats, powered accessories, and available wireless charging, but even in the upper trims, the Tacoma still has an outdated style with hard plastics that won’t be softened by leather seats.
Approach the 2022 Frontier, and its exterior clearly takes a leaf out of a modern styling book, and yet it pulls in subtle cues from retro midsize trucks of past eras with its chunky appeal. Higher bedsides, new fenders, clean lines in the front fascia, and snazzy headlights all present an image of rough and tumble that still dresses well for the city. Small things like the damped tailgate make a big difference in daily use, and every trim gets this convenience. Standard 16-inch wheels are fitted with all-season tires, and if you opt for the PRO 4X trim, you get 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels with all-terrain tires. In fact, when you choose the PRO 4X trim, you get a whole different side of the Frontier.
In the front end, the 2022 Frontier PRO 4X makes a statement with its aggressive black grille and blistered front fender. LED headlights are matched by LED fog lights, and red Nissan badging in the center of the grille is bold and sharp. Going for the Tactical Green exterior color really gives this off-road trim a serious appearance that lets the graphics of the PRO 4X stand out, especially with the red tow hooks in the front bumper. While Nissan got busy with a new design, the Tacoma has only paltry offerings in its upgrades for the 2022 model year.
On the outside, the Tacoma holds off on updating its styling other than offering some new graphics for its off-road trims. While those may look sharper, they don’t offer any fresh interest for the aging platform. Though the TRD Off-Road trim does offer a fresher appearance on the exterior with its bronze-colored wheels, the overall style is still stuck in the past, along with its jolting ride quality and bumbling powertrain. While the TRD Off-Road has the same hardware for off-roading, the 2022 Frontier has LED lights that will serve for better visibility, a plus when conditions on the trail get dark.