21 July 1995



The dilemma: A Toyota or Nissan one-tonner? On paper theres not much between them, while on price Nissan wins by £925.

Andrew Pearce and Andrew Faulkner sort out the differences and pick a winner

AS FORM is supposed to follow function, its not surprising that Toyotas and Nissans 4×4 pickups are like two peas in a pod. Both sit high and have nominally the same load capacity, the same engine size, more or less the same power and roughly the same dimensions.

Mechanically theyre similar, too. Both feature part-time 4WD, a ladder chassis and disc/drum brakes. The Toyota has live axles, leaf springs and manual freewheeling hubs, whereas Nissan goes for wishbones/torsion bars up front and leaf springs at the back. Both have a basic cab, spiced with power steering. So how to choose between them? The winner is not the one you might expect…

Engines and transmissions

These two naturally aspirated diesels are designed more for long life than power. The Hilux just wins on output, offering 81hp against the Nissans 75hp and a little more torque, albeit at slightly higher revs.

Performance is fairly leisurely in both cases, though strong enough for studied overtaking. The Nissans extra 120kg (265lb) weight and softer engine make it the slower, though not by much. It falls steadily away from the Hilux both in full-bore acceleration and when pulling hard in 4th gear, and generally feels less willing than the crisper Toyota.

Its engine wheezes up through the gears, while the Hilux sounds sharper and more purposeful. And at higher speeds theres no contest – the Toyota happily hums along at an indicated 80mph, while the Nissan thrums and roars well before that. A peek under the bonnet and in the cab suggests why; Toyota has been much more liberal with soundproofing.

Down among the whirring cogs, Nissan has the sweeter-shifting five-speeder. Fine, but the test car teamed it with a high-biting, hard to control clutch which rather spoiled the effect. The Hilux box needs a firmer hand, but its drive train is more amenable.

Ride, handling, steering, brakes

On ride the pendulum first swings back to the Nissan, which travels relatively serenely without load in the back; unladen, the Hilux is all a-jiggle on the smoothest of surfaces. But oddly its the Nissan which makes you wince when the wheels find a big hole, for Toyota has found the better damping. Both trucks settle down nicely with some weight in the back, which acts to calm the rear suspension.

Nissan gives the steering much more power assistance, which, while reducing effort, makes the truck more nervous down a bumpy lane. But it wins hands-down on lock, for the Hilux is definitely not the vehicle for a tight space. And while neither car is anything like sharp through bends, the Hilux gets the nod thanks to its better-weighted steering system and tighter feel.

Braking systems both feature a servo pushing a disc/drum mix, with Toyota offering much the sharper-feeling pedal. Ultimately neither truck has trouble stopping.

Load area

Heres something to mull over. The Nissan carries 1065kg (2348lb), whereas the Hilux is rated at just 830kg (1830lb). On top of that, the Nissan tows 2t against the Hiluxs 1.5t and wins on space with a bed 25mm (1in) wider, 75mm (3in) longer and 30mm (1.2in) deeper.

If you can physically hoist a load up and into it, neither bay will be found wanting. Fittings are practically identical: Both have a single centre-latch tailgate, both have a rear window guard (with ladder stops on the Toyota), both have a dozen decent rope hooks, and both dangle the open tailgate an uncomfortably long way off the ground. The Nissan just offers a little more room and a lot more weight-carrying capacity.


No frill or fripperies here. Plastic on the floors and doors makes for easy cleaning (should you ever be so moved) and mirrors/windows/

locks are all strictly manual.

Although the Nissans cab feels more roomy, Toyota easily wins the comfort stakes with individual, bum-gripping seats. The Nissans bench holds more bodies, but lets the driver slide about and offers no backrest adjustment.

Tables turn again with the dash, as the Nissans is more informative and modern compared with Toyotas dated three-dial offering.

Access – or lack of it – is the Hiluxs biggest failing. Its cab sills are so far off the ground that you almost need to be Sally Gunnell to hurdle over them, and then the seat is so low that you flop down into it. By contrast, getting into the Nissan is a doddle.

Off road

Neither truck goes very far in 2WD. Automatic freewheeling hubs chalk up one to the Nissan before it turns a wheel off-road, as 4WD is engaged by a single, on-the-move shift from its uncomplicated range lever. Pity the poor Hilux driver, who must stop and leap out twice each time 4WD is used and has a knottier range shift to deal with.

Despite wearing less aggressive tyres, the test Hilux had the edge on grip and, in extremes, the edge on underbody clearance. But as both trucks stand tall and offer good traction (at least on dry chalk and turf), most owners will find themselves adequately served off-road.

Our verdict

The Nissan has more space, carries more weight and can tow an extra 0.5t. It has the roomier interior, is easier to swing in a tight spot and brings the bonus of automatic front hubs. Its also the thick end of £1000 cheaper.

Yet the Toyota takes the prize. Why? Because its peppier, quieter, has a more controlled ride and steers better. More than that, it simply feels tighter – more of a quality product. Sorry to be perverse, but thats the way it is.

&#8226 Engine: 2.44-litre diesel, naturally aspirated.

&#8226 Power: 81hp at 4200rpm.

&#8226 Torque: 121lb ft at 2400rpm.

&#8226 Drive: Part-time 4WD.

&#8226 Weight: 1630kg (3593lb).

&#8226 Payload: 830kg (1830lb).

&#8226 Bed length: 2.19m (7ft 2in).

&#8226 Bed width: 1.06m (3ft 6in).

&#8226 Price: £14,790.

&#8226 Contact: Toyota GB (01737-768585).

&#8226 Engine: 2.49-litre diesel, naturally aspirated.

&#8226 Power: 75hp at 4300rpm.

&#8226 Torque: 118lb ft at 2200rpm.

&#8226 Drive: Part-time 4WD.

&#8226 Weight: 1750kg (3858lb).

&#8226 Payload: 1065kg (2348lb).

&#8226 Bed length: 2.27m (7ft 5in).

&#8226 Bed width: 1.08m (3ft 7in).

&#8226 Price: £13,865.

&#8226 Contact: Nissan Motor GB (01923-899999).

Toyota vs Nissan – like peas in a pod. Both look, feel and are mechanically similar, but which is the better?

Together the Hiluxs high sill, low roof and seat just above floor height make access an acquired art. Luckily the door opening is generous.

Preferred home of Country Car canine, the Volvo 900- series has rear accommodation that few other estate car competitors can match.

Above: Toyotas class shows in the engine bay. Not only is it much better finished than the cobbled-together Nissan (below)… but finding service items is much easier. Calving-type delvings needed to grasp Nissan dipstick.

Above: Much of a muchness – both tailgates are equally, awkwardly high. Below: Nothing in it visually, but the Nissan (right) holds, carries and tows significantly more. Extra bed space could be big factor for some.

Wake up, Toyota – manual freewheeling hubs might be cheaper, but force two stops each time 4WD is used. System encourages abuse.

Nissans stowage area is full-width, although someone seems to have forgotten to trim the seat back. Toyotas is limited by intrusive seats and a central cubby.

Above: Compare Nissans bench-seated cabin…Below: …with the more comfortable Hilux interior.