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.
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:
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.
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