Charming and capable, Nissan’s little truck still makes us smile after all these years.
– Detroit, Michigan
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Nissan Frontier sales are up 34 percent for the year so far. Credit the boom of the midsize pickup truck segment and the Frontier’s strong name recognition, it’s a good time to be Nissan’s little truck, even if it is 14 years old. Yes, the Frontier was born around the same time as the first-generation Chevy Colorado, but even in the present day, it still stands up as a plucky little truck that’s got plenty of charm.
- The styling has held up remarkably well. I won’t say it looks super fresh, but I was surprised how many of my friends complimented the butch-cute appearance of the Frontier. I think this Pro-4X trim helps a lot, with its roof rails, knobby tires, and dark-finish wheels. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the Frontier actually looks better than some of its classmates, specifically the Honda Ridgeline and its Pilot-amino style.
- Consider this a backhanded compliment: The interior is so old and outdated that it’s actually super easy to use, and as far as truck/work use goes, you won’t feel bad about scuffing the plastics or getting it dirty. The controls are minimal, and logically organized. And even though the design and materials are outdated, this truck does not lack for features. Heated seats, touchscreen infotainment with navigation, sunroof, leather – it’s all here.
- It’s really easy to drive. More than any other midsize truck out there, the Frontier genuinely feels small. It’s easy to maneuver and easy to see out of, with a low beltline. The 4.0-liter V6 is an ancient lump, as is the five-speed automatic, but the powertrain is smooth and composed most of the time. It’s a little loud, yes – especially with these Pro-4X-specific tires – but driving the Frontier is rather enjoyable. Oh, and you can still get a six-speed manual transmission on every trim level. Fun!
- Let’s not beat around the bush here: The Frontier is woefully outclassed in basically every regard. It’ll tow 6,100 pounds, sure, but the Canyon, Colorado, and Tacoma all beat that by as much as 900 pounds. Its engine is the most outdated, least powerful, and least efficient. It doesn’t have gee-whiz stuff like Apple CarPlay or connected apps or anything like that. It’s not a modern truck, is what it comes down to.
- While you can get the Frontier in King and Crew cabs, the bed lengths aren’t interchangeable. King Cab models come with the longer bed, Crew Cabs have the shorter bed (because there’s only one wheelbase). The GM twins are more configurable, and boast more interior and cargo room.
- A base Frontier starts about $2,000 less than a Chevy Colorado, but as tested in loaded, Pro-4X 4x4 guise with the optional Luxury Package, this $36,525 truck is the same price as a similarly equipped, more modern Chevy.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com