2021 Tacoma vs. Frontier Comparison

When you want the utility of a truck mixed with the comforts of your car, a smaller, mid-size truck can provide both.

The 2021 Tacoma offers a more inviting ride with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility standard. Similar features are included with NissanConnect® but it's only available on the most expensive model.

You'll not only be able to hear what you want when you want, but can get the perfect ride temperature you want with dual-zone climate control standard on the Tacoma SR with a 3.5L V6.

When it comes to standard safety features, you also get more with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).

See what the Nissan Frontier is missing when you compare the 2021 Tacoma vs. the 2021 Frontier in safety, interior and exterior features, plus performance.

Published Date: 06/23/2021

Tacoma driving fast down a dirt road

Performance

  • Protect your truck's undercarriage with standard skid plates on the Tacoma.
  • The Tacoma also has a bigger max towing capacity than the Frontier.
  • Get better EPA-estimated gas mileage with the Tacoma.

With a heritage of performance and power, the Tacoma has all the features you need to get the job done with ease.

All-Around Utility

Wherever your travels take you, know your Tacoma truck is protected with standard skid plates on engine/front suspension. The Frontier skid plates that cover the oil tank, fuel tank, and 4x4 transfer case are only standard on the Crew Cab PRO-4X®.

For extra reinforcement, the Tacoma has one-piece frame rails with eight cross members and fully boxed front sub-frame for a sturdy ride whether you're towing or hauling. Comparatively, the Frontier has a body-on-frame construction.

If you're looking to tow more, the Tacoma 4x2 Access Cab V6 Automatic Transmission with a 6-ft. bed can tow up to 6,800 lbs. The most the Frontier can tow is 6,620 lbs. with the King Cab S® 4x2 configuration.

Even when you're not working, the Tacoma 4x2 Access Cab 4-Cyl. Automatic Transmission with a 6-ft. bed has better gas mileage estimates than the Frontier for everyday driving with up to an EPA-estimated 20/23/21 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. The Frontier King Cab S® 4x2 has an EPA-estimated 18/24/20 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.

Isolated shot of a white 2021 Tacoma

Safety

  • The 2021 Tacoma comes standard Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) which has a load of top-notch safety features.
  • The Nissan Frontier has some passive safety features, but no active safety features that are comparable with TSS-P.
  • The Tacoma also comes with knee airbags, something the Frontier lacks.

Safety features are important. Especially for small trucks that are expected to fill many roles.

Standard Safety Features

The 2021 Tacoma has Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) with a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

Plus, the Tacoma also has the Star Safety System™ which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and more.

Comparatively, with the Nissan King CAB® S 4x2 you get cruise control, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS), and Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS). However, the Frontier does not have active safety features that are comparable to TSS-P.

For added help getting up steep ascents, the Tacoma also comes standard with Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) which the Nissan King CAB® S 4x2 does not have.

On top of all that, the Tacoma also has lots of airbag coverage with a driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and front and rear Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags (RSCA). The Frontier offers the standard Nissan Advanced Airbag System with dual-stage supplemental front air bags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags, and roof-mounted curtain supplemental air bags. It does not have knee airbags, however.

Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2020 Tacoma the 2019 Top Safety Pick designation while the Frontier did not receive this classification.

Interior of 2021 Tacoma

Interior

  • Dual Zone Climate Control comes standard on the Tacoma SR 4x2 with a 3.5L V6 engine. Nissan's comparable climate control feature is not standard on their base trim.
  • The Tacoma has many multimedia features like Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay®. NissanConnect® is only offered on the most expensive CREW CAB PRO-4X®.
  • The Tacoma SR with Double Cab has more standard seating than the Nissan's KING CAB® S.

Interior features have improved a lot over the last few decades. To stay competitive truck manufacturers include the latest. Toyota is no different.

Multimedia

In terms of multimedia options the Tacoma has Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. The Frontier is less advanced with its offering of an AM/FM audio system. The NissanConnect® Mobile Apps feature is only offered on the most expensive CREW CAB PRO-4X®.

You also get more speakers with the Tacoma which comes standard with six speakers as opposed to the four that come with the base Frontier.

The Tacoma not only offers the convenience features you want but the comfort you desire. You get standard dual zone climate control starting on the Tacoma SR 4x2 with a 3.5L V6 engine. Dual Zone Automatic Temperature Control with in-cabin microfilter is only available on the Frontier King Cab SV, Crew Cab SV, Crew Cab Longbed SV, and comes standard on the Crew Cab Midnight Edition and CREW CAB PRO-4X®.

Keep your cool and pack it in with the Tacoma SR with a Double Cab that can seat up to five people. The Nissan KING CAB® S can only seat 4. You'll need to get the Crew Cab S or higher to seat 5.

2021 Tacoma parked at a beach front

Exterior

  • The Tacoma comes standard with automatic projector-beam headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). Nissan's automatic on/off headlights are only standard on the CREW CAB PRO-4X®.
  • The CREW CAB PRO-4X® also comes standard with Utili-track® Channel System with four adjustable tie-down cleats. A deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats and four fixed cargo bed tie-down points is standard on the Tacoma.
  • The Tacoma has four doors on the Double Cab models beginning with the SR 4x2 Double Cab. The Frontier's King Cab® S comes standard with full-sized doors and two rear access doors.

The Tacoma comes stacked with a lot of exterior features too.

Automatic Projector-Beam Headlights

Light up your drive with automatic projector-beam headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and integrated wide-angle fog lights that come standard on the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road. Automatic on/off headlights and fog lights only come on the CREW CAB PRO-4X®.

Another feature standard only on the highest CREW CAB PRO-4X® is the Utili-track® Channel System with four adjustable tie-down cleats, while the Tacoma comes standard with the deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats and four fixed cargo bed tie-down points.

The Tacoma also has four full-size doors on the Double Cab models starting on the SR 4x2 Double Cab, while the King Cab® S has standard two full-sized doors and two rear access doors. The Crew Cab S and higher have four full-sized doors standard.

2021 Tacoma parked outside of a restaurant

Conclusion: Tacoma vs. Frontier

  • All Tacoma trims come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). The Frontier lacks safety features that can compare.
  • The Tacoma offers both utility and comfort.
  • The Tacoma comes packed with many standard features, making some drivers wonder if their choice to leave the Frontier should be final.

Although these two trucks have been around for decades now, the Tacoma has made more standard features available.

With Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P), Tacoma drivers get a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The Nissan Frontier doesn't have any active safety features that can compare.

The Tacoma stands out for its interior and exterior standard offerings as well.

Plus, if you want a truck that can tow more and has the build to withstand whatever you throw at it, the Tacoma can handle anything.

For more style and capabilities for your truck without expensive upgrades, the 2021 Tacoma is for you.