Yeah and I should know better than to criticize.
I'll just state my opinion, rather than being generous about it, and be done with it: In my opinion and my experience, when it comes to offroad and general sturdiness, Nissans have always been "Toyota-lite". Just like Toyota, but a little less expensive, a little less reliable, a little less strongly built. For every 1 Nissan that's built as an off-road machine by the owner, you see 200 similar Toyotas. There's a reason for that and it's not just a "bandwagon" thing. When small 4x4s really took off in the US market in the 70s and 80s, Toyota had the Landcruiser and pickups with sturdy components and a solid front axle
. Nissan threw together a quick 4x4 with IFS (independent front suspension) and weaker components.
Now to me calling a Nissan a "Toyota-lite" is not an insult, but I know if you're a loyal Nissan owner it probably feels like it, and I should know better by now than to criticize stuff like this. Someday I'll learn...But it's not like Nissan said "hey, let's build a flimsy truck!". They're just aren't going for the extreme toughness that Toyota has made it's calling card. They know not everyone wants or needs that.
Toyota uses stronger components. You can put the same shocks and springs on a Nissan as there are on a Toyota, but if the axle
isn't as strong and all the connecting parts are made out of thinner metal, it's not going to be as strong.
For most people these things will never matter. For how they use their truck, they don't need the extra strength. So why not save some money? I'm beyond hope. I just love Toyotas and will spend the extra money. There was a time I was really close to going with Nissan because of the price difference, just like I was close to buying a full-size Chevy for the extra power with similar fuel mileage. But it's too late for me now...
And yeah, as far as "real truck", Toyota in the US market is a different truck than Toyotas in other parts of the world. To meet US safety standards and the comfort expectations of US consumers, they are built with less toughness and less hauling and abuse capabilities as the Hilux Toyotas outside of North America. I think this happened with the Tacoma model. Before that they were more or less the same, other than double cabs having been available since the 70s outside of North America. Our Toyota pickups are really pretty wimpy in a lot of ways...like Steve said - glorified passenger cars.