The Nissan Frontier steps out as a formidable competitor.
We last saw a new Nissan Frontier model in 2005 and that’s a long time to keep this midsize pickup truck unchanged. Interestingly, even as the segment gradually shrunk and later rebounded, an aged Frontier remained popular both for its low price and durability. For 2022, an all-new Frontier arrives and by the looks of it, this one will only enhance the brand’s appeal.
The Nissan Frontier is available in King (extended) and Crew Cab (four-door) configurations and seats up to five. It comes with standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive. Every Frontier has a V6 engine paired with an automatic transmission. The King Cab has a 6-foot bed; the Crew Cab comes with a standard 5-foot or an available 6-foot bed.
The King Cab comes in S ($27,840) and SV ($30,540) trims. The Crew Cab is available in S ($29,340), SV ($32,140), Long Bed SV ($34,040), and PRO-4X ($34,240) trims. Add $1,150 for the destination charge. Upgrading to four-wheel drive adds $3,200 to the extended cab and $3,000 to the four-door cab.
Nissan took the previous-generation Frontier’s steel ladder frame and strengthened it. New suspension components offer further separation from the model it replaced. Five inches longer from bumper to bumper, the interior is about the same size. But it is on the outside where the changes are most noticeable, including its rugged stance, bold front fascia, and signature LED lights. In some ways, it is a typical midsize truck look with strong roof pillars, pronounced beltline definition, and stylish wheel choices.
Inside, our test crew cab model offered space for five. On the other hand, the extended cab model seats four, including a pair of jump seats in the back. We recommend the first choice with its four doors. All models feature full power accessories. A manual-controlled driver’s seat is standard. Among the upgrades are better quality cloth or leather seats, a sliding rear window, a power driver’s seat with lumbar support, and heated front seats.
The best seats are in the front with sufficient shoulder, hip, and leg support. The rear seat is ideal for two or three in a pinch. Tall passengers will find the legroom tight, especially if the front seats are pushed completely back. We commend Nissan for the generous amount of interior storage, including the wide door pockets, center console, and the hidden compartment underneath the rear seats.
Safety & Tech
Driver-assist safety features are available. They are typically bundled under a Technology Package ($990). Opting for the upgrade brings in such features as high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert. Further, the package includes lane departure warning, rear automatic braking, and a rear sonar system. A forward-collision warning system is standard.
Depending on the trim, the 2022 Frontier comes with either an 8- or 9-inch touchscreen display. Two or four USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, and six speakers are included. The list of upgrades includes a 10-speaker Fender audio system, a wireless charging pad, and two 110-volt outlets: one in the truck and another in the bed.
On the Road
In a segment dominated by four-cylinder engines, Nissan chose a V6 for its new Frontier. Previously, Nissan offered standard four-cylinder and available V6 engines as well as a manual transmission. This time, the company aimed for the performance side of the segment with a 3.8-liter V6 engine paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. This engine makes a best-in-class 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. When properly equipped, it pulls upwards of 6,720 pounds.
The new powertrain is stout and should please anyone shopping for a rugged truck. In effect, the company applied the power quotient of its full-size Nissan Titan pickup to a smaller frame, giving it an effective 1-2 punch in a competitive segment.
Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
Our test PRO-4X model featured a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system. It includes 2WD, 4Hi, and 4LO modes with an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. On low traction surfaces, the limited-slip differential transfers power to the drive wheels with more grip. As a result, the Frontier imbues confidence while climbing and descending hills. Three steel underbody skid plates ensure that the oil pan, fuel tank, and transfer case are not damaged during vigorous off-roading.
On even surfaces, such as roads, the Frontier moves with gusto. There is no lack of power and the automatic transmission immediately complies with the given demands. As a result, your average fuel economy is about 20 mpg – a trade-off for the power delivered.
Take the Frontier off-roading and it immediately demonstrates its prowess. On gravel roads and well-worn paths, two-wheel drive is sufficient. Beyond that, with four-wheel drive engaged, the Frontier lives up to its name: you can go almost anywhere with it. We don’t have the details yet about the truck’s approach, breakover, and departure angles, but we feel confident that it is up to the task. Its ground clearance measures upwards of 9.8 inches, which gives it an advantage when fording shallow streams. Front and rear tow hooks are the insurance needed just in case.
The new Nissan Frontier checks off all the important boxes in this segment. It is competitively priced too with well-equipped models coming in around $35,000. Available this fall, we recommend ordering one as demand is certain to exceed its availability.
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