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  • 2018 Nissan Frontier OVERVIEW

    It’s normal in truck advertisements for pickup makers to call their product the “longest lasting,” but Nissan’s Frontier – largely unchanged since its introduction in 2005 – has them all beat. It’s beyond long-in-the-tooth; it’s on its second set of dentures.

    The lemonade of the Frontier’s seemingly sour story is that its age is a positive in a way, as the truck has had over a decade of real-world durability testing and fine-tuning done to it, giving Nissan a proven product focused on offering what customers have voted for years with their dollars to include in a value-oriented truck that requires less of those dollars to buy and own.

    What's New for 2018

    All Frontiers get standard RearView Monitor cameras, air conditioning, a five-inch color display, cruise control, and Siri Eyes Free and Bluetooth compatibility. A new Midnight Edition package is available on SV-trim Crew Cab two- or four-wheel drives with automatic transmissions, and in Magnetic Black, Gun Metallic and Glacier White. The package includes body-color front and rear bumpers, a gloss-black grille and 18-inch aluminum wheels, semi-gloss black step rails, and black exterior mirrors, door handles, and badging.

    Nissan Frontier

    Choosing Your Nissan Frontier

    Thanks to its 13 years on the market, Nissan has had enough time to tweak the Frontier roster to satisfy the demands of the largest number of consumers with the fewest possible trim and equipment offerings. But that in no way means finding the best fit in the Frontier range is an easy job, because even this limited lineup comprises a mélange of models in six trim levels, each with at least one of three transmissions, two engines, two cabs, two bed lengths, and in rear-drive-only or full-on four-wheel-drive forms.

    And with prices ranging from $19,965 (including $975 Destination Charge) for the base S King Cab – that's the version with the full-size front and half-size, rear-hinged back doors – four-cylinder with a five-speed manual gearbox, standard-length bed, and rear-wheel drive to the $37,375 top-trim SL with the four-door Crew Cab body, four-wheel drive, a V6, standard bed, and five-speed automatic transmission, it’s clear that Nissan’s price structure is as wide-ranging as its model offerings.

    There is one constant in the Frontier line, though: its engines. For the skinflint crowd, Nissan offers a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, but only on the S and slightly-upmarket SV in two-wheel-drive King Cab form. For every other application there’s a 4.0-liter V6 with 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of grunt.

    If it seems Nissan is reluctant to offer four-cylinder applications, that could be due to that engine’s EPA mileage ratings of 19 mpg city, 23 highway, and 21 combined with the manual and 19/17/22 mpg with the automatic, which are within three mpg of a fully-loaded V6 4x4’s figures. Even more embarrassing for the four is its maximum towing capacity of 3,790 lbs. and max payload of 900 pounds, as the V6’s towing capacity bests it by almost a ton-and-a-half and it can carry 560 additional pounds.

    Similarly, a five-speed manual transmission is only offered in the down-market models, while a six-speed stick available in two-wheel-drive S, four-wheel-drive SV V6, and PRO-4X Crew cab bodies rounds out the row-your-own options. Every other Frontier permutation comes with a five-speed automatic in mandatory or optional form.

    The Nissan Frontier comes in six trim levels:


    While features like air conditioning, a five-inch audio display with an integrated backup camera, four speakers, USB and auxiliary ports, and a lit bed with a locking tailgate are included in the base S 4x2 King Cab’s sub-$20,000 MSRP. Adding the five-speed automatic requires another $3,670, but it makes the $750 Work Truck Package (factory-applied spray-on bedliner, bed rail caps, all-season floor mats, and splash guards) available. And apart from upholstery and paint color combos and dozen or so accessories, that rounds out what can be had with the S.

    The S Crew Cab, in addition to the V6 engine, a pair of full-sized doors – each with an additional speaker – and 16-inch wheels instead of the stock 15s, come standard with a six-speed stick (the automatic’s now just $1,050 more), and a $5,560 hike in MSRP. Four-wheel drive and its mandatory automatic adds another $4,540, pushing the price of a base S Crew Cab 4x4 to $30,065.

    SV I-4

    The four-cylinder’s second – and last – appearance adds a “V” to the Frontier's name, is only available in the King Cab body with two-wheel drive, and adds $4,470 to its MSRP. The $24,435 sum includes 16-inch six-spoke alloy wheels, a body-color front and chrome rear bumper, power locks and windows, remote keyless entry, a tilt steering column, a sliding rear window, sun visors with vanity mirrors and sliding extenders, and SiriusXM satellite radio with a free three-month trial.

    The four-cylinder Frontier SV still comes with the five-speed stick as standard, but the automatic is available for $1,050. From there, the number of paint choices doubles to eight and the interior can be had in tan or graphite instead of either of the S’s greys.


    The SV V6 King Cab comes in two- ($26,195) and four-wheel drive($29,085) forms. As the name suggests, that includes the six-cylinder engine, but both come only with automatics as well. Crew Cab versions get standard automatics, too, but there are a few differences.

    Unlike every other Frontier, in addition to the standard-length truck with a five-foot bed – $27,325 and $30,515 in 4x2 and 4x4 forms, respectively – an extended-wheelbase SV V6 Crew Cab is available with a six-foot-one-inch bed for $2,610 (4x2) or $420 (4x4) more. Select this only if it’s absolutely necessary, however, as it precludes all other options. Similarly, regular-length Crew Cab buyers willing to forego any additional equipment can outfit their rigs with the aforementioned six-speed manual for $2,840.

    Speaking of equipment, the $1,890 Value Truck Package is an option on standard-bed models with automatics. It includes heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming mirror, rear sonar system, spray-on bedliner, a sliding bed extender, Utili-track tie-down mounts, fog lights, a Class IV towing hitch receiver, vehicle security system, and – in King Cabs – a six speaker audio setup, just like the Crew Cab.

    Unique to the Crew Cab, however, is the brand-new Midnight Edition Package. Listed as "a $2,495 value for only $995," it really isn’t as it requires the Value Truck Package. That package is also a prerequisite for the last big option – the $800 Power Moonroof Package – only available on non-Midnight Edition SV V6 Crew Cabs.

    Desert Runner

    The $26,875 Desert Runner stands out in the Frontier line for a variety of reasons, including being rear-wheel-drive-only like the desert rally “pre-runner” trucks of old that give it its name. It comes standard as a King Cab, but can be ordered as a Crew Cab, too, for an extra $1,430.

    In addition to all of the SV V6 features, the Desert Runner sports unique exterior graphics, upholstery, and trim, including white-faced gauges. And while the satin-chrome front grille, body-color rear bumper, and fog lamps add to the show, the Desert Runner’s unique 16-inch six-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires and Bilstein off-road performance shocks all around give it its namesake's go. Options-wise there really aren’t any aside from colors and accessories.


    Those that want maximum go, though, need to go PRO, as in the PRO-4X. As its name suggests, four-wheel drive is standard, and it's available in King Cab ($34,005) and Crew Cab ($33,715) forms. In addition to the Desert Runner’s Bilstein suspension and PRO-4X-branded versions of that truck’s trim, Nissan’s added an electronic locking rear differential and skid plates for extra capability off-road. And while it’s based on the SV V6 like the Desert Runner, including making the automatic standard on the King Cabs, from there it takes a different pricing path altogether. Here the Crew Cab comes standard with the six-speed manual transmission, offering the automatic as a $1,050 option.

    There is an incentive to pony up the $34,765 for an automatic Crew Cab: the $2,100 Premium Package. It includes leather-appointed and power-operated seats, a rear fold-down center armrest, heated outside mirrors, a roof rack with crossbars, and a power-sliding glass moonroof. Other than that, the PRO-4X offers the typical Frontier fiesta of colors and accessories.


    Nissan’s finest Frontier comes only as a Crew Cab, but even in this rarefied air one can get rear-drive only ($34,535) should four-wheel drive – or its $37,375 opening MSRP – not suit them. Either way, if it’s been mentioned as standard or optional by now on “regular” trucks – Midnight Edition-, Desert Runner-, and PRO-4X-exclusives excluded – the SL has it and more as standard on top of its SV V6 bones.

    The Premium, Value Truck, and Moonroof packages are here, as are 18-inch six-spoke alloys, automatic headlamps and fog lamps, chromed front bumper, door handles and heated exterior mirrors, step rails, body-color side moldings, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a Nissan navigation system with a 5.8-inch color touchscreen, voice recognition, NissanConnect mobile apps, and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with three free months of service, and a ten-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system.

    CarsDirect Tip

    Trucks are a deeply personal purchase. Two doors or four, four cylinders or six, stick or automatic, two- or four-wheel drive, it all depends on what you plan to do with it. As it stands, the Frontier is a capable machine available in myriad combinations, and it offers a solid value that’s withstood the test of time. It may not be as fresh or high-tech as some of its recently-introduced (and promised) competition, but trucks are about doing the most work for the least amount of money, something the Frontier’s been doing – well – for ages.

    Get your price on a Nissan Frontier »

    Top Nissan Deals & Must-Know Advice In December

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