2012 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2012 Nissan Frontier – A Comparison – Part 2

In Part two of our series comparing the 2012 Toyota Tacoma to the 2012 Nissan Frontier we examine some additional important characteristics of each vehicle and see how the two mid-size trucks stack up against each other. With engine output, fuel economy and transmission choices out of the way, let’s start the second chapter of our comparison by taking a look at stopping power and safety equipment.

2012 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2012 Nissan Frontier - Part 2

2012 Toyota Tacoma vs. 2012 Nissan Frontier - A Comparison - Part 2


Stopping distance can be affected by a number of things – particularly the tires that are installed on the vehicles being compared – so we felt it was more instructive to take a look at the actual hardware hiding behind each truck’s wheels to get an idea of how effective their braking systems are.

The 2012 Nissan Frontier offers disc brakes at all four wheels, with rotors measuring 11.1-inches at the front and 11.3-inches at the rear for the four-cylinder model. The V6 edition of the pickup gains slightly larger 11.7-inch front rotors. ABS is also standard, as is electronic brake force distribution.

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma features disc brakes up front, with rotor sizes ranging from 10.83-inches for the four-cylinder pickup all the way up to 12.56-inches for certain six-cylinder versions. Unfortunately, rear drum brakes are standard, which means that the Toyota’s stopping power is not quite as impressive as the Frontier’s, even despite the presence of ABS and brake force distribution.

Toyota does regain the upper hand when it comes to better overall safety equipment availability. Each version of the Tacoma offers the Toyota Star Safety System, which includes traction control, electronic stability control, brake assist and Smart Stop, which cuts engine power should the brake pedal and the accelerator be depressed simultaneously.

The Nissan Frontier offers electronic stability control, but only on V6 versions of the truck. Traction control is not offered, period.

Winner: The Frontier’s braking specs put it ahead in that category, but the Tacoma’s longer list of standard safety gear ties the category.


Both the Nissan and the Toyota pickup trucks can be ordered with four-wheel drive. The Frontier, however, restricts this option to V6-powered trucks only, putting it at a disadvantage to the Tacoma.

The Tacoma and the Frontier 4×4’s both come with an automatic limited-slip differential. Each truck also provides additional goodies to those who pair an automatic transmission with four-wheel drive, such as hill start assist and downhill assist control. However, Toyota makes these features available exclusively as part of a package, and only on the V6 trucks featuring an automatic transmission.

In contrast, the Frontier provides these driver’s aides standard on all four-wheel drive models (which by default include a V6 engine under the hood), and it is even possible to have both features installed on specific two-wheel drive trim levels of the Frontier as well.

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma and the 2012 Nissan Frontier can each be ordered in a special off-road oriented edition that adds extra trail bite to each respective truck. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road package throws in Bilstein shock absorbers, a locking rear differential, larger all-terrain tires, Advanced Traction Control, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist. Also in the cards are skid plates, a front tow hook and a number of other trim tweaks.

2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD

The Nissan Frontier PRO-4X essentially matches the TRD offering, with important differences including the installation of a Dana 44 rear axle and the inclusion of an Active Brake limited slip rear differential.

2012 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X

Winner:The TRD and PRO-4X packages are too close to call. The Frontier definitely loses points, however, for not offering four-wheel drive with its four-cylinder engine. The Tacoma takes the category.

In Part three of our comparison, we’ll compare two of the most important truck attributes: payload rating and towing capacity.

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