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Nissan vs. Toyota: Which is Better? Reliability, Price, Resale Value

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Nissan and Toyota are both major players in the automotive industry. Each company has been around since 1933—and each sells millions of cars worldwide every year.

Deciding between the two brands can be a challenge. If you’re on the fence about whether to choose a Nissan or a Toyota for your next car, there are several factors you’ll want to consider. Comparing individual models from the two brands can also be helpful.

Nissan or Toyota: What to Consider

Nissan and Toyota logo
If you’re on the fence about whether to choose a Nissan or a Toyota for your next car, there are several factors you’ll want to consider, including price, resale value, reliability and quality, and available models.

Are you trying to decide between a Nissan and a Toyota for your next car? If so, you’ll want to consider the following factors before making your decision.

Price

Winner: Nissan

New Nissan model and Toyota model prices are generally fairly comparable. For example, the starting MSRP for a 2021 Nissan Sentra is $19,460 while the starting MSRP for a 2021 Corolla is $20,025.

But used vehicle prices are a different story. When comparing similar models, you can almost always expect to pay less for a pre-owned Nissan than a pre-owned Toyota.

For instance, at the time this article was written, Edmunds listed the average dealer retail value for a 2018 Nissan Sentra in “clean” condition as $13,811, whereas the average value for a comparable Toyota Corolla was said to be $16,910.

2021 Nissan Sentra
When comparing similar models, you can almost always expect to pay less for a pre-owned Nissan than a pre-owned Toyota. Image source: Nissan.

Resale Value

Winner: Toyota

Toyota vehicles typically have an extremely high resale value, which is why you’re likely to pay less for a used Nissan than a used Toyota. According to a 2019 study from Edmunds, Toyota and its luxury division, Lexus, have the highest resale values amongst all brands.

It’s also worth noting that five different Toyota models—including the Camry, RAV4 Hybrid, Sienna, Tacoma, and Tundra—received a Kelly Blue Book (KBB) Best Resale Value Award for 2021.

2021 Toyota Camry
Toyota vehicles typically have an extremely high resale value, which is why you’re likely to pay less for a used Nissan than a used Toyota. Image source: Toyota.

Reliability and Quality

Winner: Toyota

It’s no secret that Toyota makes some of the most reliable cars on the road. Consumer Reports ranked the company the second most reliable out of all brands for 2021. Nissan came in much further down the list in sixteenth place. 

When it comes to quality, Toyota continues to deliver, year after year and mile after mile. If you need proof, check out the 2007 Toyota Tundra owned by Victor Sheppard. The pickup racked up over 1 million miles on the original engine and transmission before being acquired by Toyota (so that engineers could analyze it) in 2020.

2014 – 2015 Toyota Tundra
When it comes to quality, Toyota continues to deliver, year after year and mile after mile. Image source: Toyota.

Available Models

Winner: Tie Between Nissan and Toyota

Both Nissan and Toyota offer everything from a compact car to a full-size pickup truck. But one option that’s noticeably missing from Toyota’s portfolio (at least for now) is a battery electric vehicle (BEV).

Although Toyota offers a variety of hybrids and one fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), it has yet to join most of the automotive industry in offering a BEV. And that omission seems strange in today’s increasingly electrified world.

Nissan offers a BEV in the form of the all-electric LEAF, but the brand’s vehicle lineup comes up short elsewhere. Currently, Nissan doesn’t offer a hybrid vehicle, nor does it have a minivan in its catalog. Toyota has both.

So, when it comes down to which brand has a better vehicle lineup, the answer is: it’s a wash.

Nissan Vehicles vs. Toyota Vehicles 

Nissan and Toyota both have a wide range of vehicles in their lineup. It’s helpful to look at how some of the best-sellers from each brand stack up against one another.

2021 Nissan Titan vs. 2021 Toyota Tundra

Winner: Toyota Tundra

2021 Toyota Tundra side view
While the Titan has slightly more power than the Tundra, the Tundra has a greater towing capacity than the Titan. Image source: Toyota.

Compared to some of today’s other full-size pickup trucks, the 2021 Titan and the 2021 Tundra both seem a bit outdated. But the two trucks are still viable options, especially in the case of the Tundra, which has a good predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power.

While the Titan has slightly more power than the Tundra (401 hp vs. 381 hp), the Tundra has a greater towing capacity than the Titan (9400 lbs vs. 9350 lbs).

The two trucks are comparable on many levels. Yet the win has to go to the Tundra and its immaculate reliability record.

2021 Nissan Frontier vs. 2021 Toyota Tacoma

Winner: Toyota Tacoma

2021 Toyota Tacoma with scenic background
Every year, the Tacoma continues to earn rewards for reliability and resale value. Image source: Toyota.

It’s hard to compete with the Toyota Tacoma—a perennial favorite in the midsize truck class. Every year, the Tacoma continues to earn rewards for reliability and resale value.

Even though the 2021 Nissan Frontier also received an excellent predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power, that’s not enough to make it a contender with the 2021 Tacoma. It’s been 16 years since the Frontier was last redesigned—and its age shows.

The much more modern Toyota Tacoma, which was redesigned just five years ago, is the obvious winner here.

2021 Nissan Rogue vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4

Winner: Toyota RAV4

2021 Toyota RAV4 silversky metallic
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is a carry-over from a 2019 redesign. Image source: Toyota.

For 2021, the Nissan Rogue has been completely redesigned with updates, such as an enhanced interior and more standard features. Meanwhile, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is a carry-over from a 2019 redesign.

Despite the fact the Rogue is a bit more modern than the RAV4, both options offer plenty of creature comforts and technology. Predicted reliability is what really sets the two SUVs apart from one another.

For years, the Rogue has been plagued by costly continuously variable transmission (CVT) problems. It’s advisable to steer clear of any CVT-equipped Nissan models until the brand proves the issues are fixed.

2021 Nissan Sentra vs. 2021 Toyota Corolla

Winner: Toyota Corolla

2021 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition
The 2021 Toyota Corolla comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and an excellent infotainment system. Image source: Toyota.

The Toyota Corolla is the best-selling car of all time, primarily because of its unrelenting dependability. For 2021, the long-time favorite comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and an excellent infotainment system.

You’ll find that the 2021 Sentra also comes with an impressive list of standard equipment. But the Nissan doesn’t have the stellar reliability record of the Toyota because, like the Rogue, the Sentra has suffered from CVT problems in the past.

Should You Choose Nissan or Toyota? 

Are Nissans good cars? Yes, Nissans are good cars—but Toyotas are better.

Hands down, Toyota is the superior of the two brands in nearly every way. The only plus to buying a Nissan is that, because Nissans don’t have ultra-high resale values, you can usually get a used Nissan for slightly less than a comparable Toyota.

But unless your budget for a used car is super strict, Toyota is the right choice almost every time.

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