Comparing 2020 Mid-Size Trucks: Nissan vs Toyota vs Chevy

Mid-size truck buyers have a lot of options, based on brand loyalty, personal preferences, price point and other factors. The Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, and Chevrolet Colorado are three popularly searched options, and many buyers may be choosing between them when making a purchasing decision.

So let’s take a look at each, in a proverbial head-to-head comparison.

red nissan frontier climbing rocks
Nissan Frontier 

  • Engine Sizes: 2.5 liter/4-cylinder, 4.0 liter/V6
  • Horsepower: 152/261
  • Torque: 171/281
  • MPG: 19-city, 23 highway (4-cylinder), 16-city, 23 highway (V6)
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual (automatic)/6-speed manual (5-speed automatic)
  • Max towing capacity: 3,810 pounds/6,690 pounds
  • Standard backup camera
  • Starting MSRP: $18,990

The Frontier is considered an entry-level mid-size pickup in many ways, with a long overdue redesign coming for the 2021 model year. But competitive towing capacity and ample overall storage space make it a popular choice.

Is Nissan Frontier A Good Truck?

The Nissan Frontier has many features that make it an excellent buy for the price. It performed well in both reliability and safety testing, and it has many features you wouldn’t expect to find a truck with a starting price of less than $19,000 such as Nissan Intelligent Mobility. The 2021 Nissan Frontier will likely rank even higher as the maker is giving this truck a redesign for 2021 model. While full details are not yet available for the new Frontier, it will likely include updates to both the exterior and interior. You won’t have to wait long to see it as it’s scheduled to hit the lots by late fall.

Toyota Tacoma parked in driveway
Toyota Tacoma 

  • Engine Sizes: 2.7 liter/4-cylinder, 3.5 liter/V6
  • Horsepower: 169/278
  • Torque: 180/265
  • MPG: 20 city, 23 highway (4-cylinder), 19-city, 24 highway (V6)
  • Max towing capacity: 3,500 pounds/6800 pounds
  • Toyota SafetySense, including lane-departure warning
  • Starting MSRP: $25,550

Toyota trucks are notably reliable and long-lasting, with modern infotainment capability for the 2020 model year to compete will other midsize pickups, as well as the full-size truck models out there.

How Long Do Toyota Tacomas Last?

With excellent maintenance, a Tacoma can stay on the road for up to 400,000 miles. That’s impressive, but you have to also consider the truck’s everyday reliability rather than just the overall longevity. While the annual repair costs are reasonable, the truck only earned a 3.5 reliability rating, which is the lowest of the three trucks mentioned in this article. Being absolutely diligent about maintenance can boost the reliability of the Tacoma and help owners reach the high end of the average longevity.

Chevrolet Colorado 

  • Engine Sizes: 2.5 liter/4-cylinder. 3.6 liter/V6
  • Horsepower: 200/305
  • Torque: 191/269
  • MPG: 20 city, 27 highway
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual and automatic
  • Max towing capacity: 7,000 pounds
  • Starting MSRP: $21,300

How Reliable Is A Chevy Colorado?

While a popular truck, the Chevy Colorado doesn’t have an excellent track record. In the past three years (2017-2019), it earned worse than average reliability scores. The average annual repair costs for the Colorado is $599, which is more than the category average and well above the annual repair costs for a Frontier which are just $470. So while not horrible, the Chevy Colorado is ranked the least reliable out of the three competitors described here. 

Which Midsize Truck Is The Best?

The Nissan Frontier clearly the most affordable midsize truck between these three, with the lowest starting price. The 6-cylinder engine is bigger than the Tacoma and the Colorado V6 options, albeit with slightly less horsepower. And on the fuel economy side, the Colorado has larger max towing capacity, more horsepower, and better highway mileage than both the Frontier and the Tacoma.

In exchange for some horsepower and a bit of towing capacity, which may not be incredibly noticeable in most situations, and a lot of advanced bells and whistles (at least for this year), the Nissan Frontier comes in a lower price point than the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado. All things considered, narrowing to overall value and being generally comparable across the board, the Frontier wins here and the 2020 model year should continue to win over more and more midsize pickup buyers.