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Nissan
Frontier
2019
Go
Anthony Sophinos
Automotive Editor - November 30, 2018

2019 Nissan Frontier OVERVIEW

Did you forget that Nissan still builds the Frontier? That's OK – we think Nissan did too. After all, the Frontier has been languishing on these shores with hardly an update since George W. Bush was entering his second term. That's a long time by any non-geological standard, and positively antiquarian in the automotive world. Ride, handling, technology, and style all hail from the mid-aughts, and the overall vibe is that of a time machine with a bed. Call it a classic or label it a Luddite, but the quaint 2019 Nissan Frontier – the cheapest truck in America – is mostly just a bargain relic in today's fast-moving age.

What's New for 2019

A seven-inch touchscreen is now standard on S and SV models, and the color palette has been tweaked. Otherwise, Nissan is still pumping out the same truck they've been building for the last 15 years.

Nissan Frontier

Choosing Your Nissan Frontier

It may be to your relief or consternation, but there's no asinine amount of build combinations to parse through with the Frontier. Two cabs, two engines, and three transmission choices are up for grabs, most of which can be had across any of the four trim levels. It's about the same variety that can be found on competing mid-size trucks. Both cabs can be had with either a 60- or 73-inch bed.

The ever-onward march of time has given the Frontier the dubious distinction of being one of a small handful of vehicles still on the market with a five-speed transmission. Actually, make that two five-speeds – there's both a manual and an automatic gearbox available with five cogs each. The five-speed manual is only paired with the four-cylinder engine, while the automatic does duty behind the four- and six-cylinder. The only way to get more than five gears is to order a V6 with the six-speed stick shift.

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine leads things off. It's standard on the low-end S and SV trims, and makes 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. It pairs to either of the five-speed gearboxes. EPA-estimated fuel economy with two-wheel drive is 19 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway, and 21 combined with the manual, or 17/22/19 mpg (city/highway/combined) with the automatic.

Most trucks come with the upsized 4.0-liter V6 engine. It's standard in all variants beyond the SV, and makes a much more robust 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. Nissan has built this engine with an eye toward durability; it boasts a forged crankshaft and other strengthened internals. Fuel economy is 16/23/19 mpg for 2WD models and the five-speed automatic transmission; those numbers drop to 15/21/17 mpg with 4WD. The six-speed manual is standard and a five-speed auto is optional.

For four-cylinder models, payload ranges between 890 to 910 pounds depending on transmission and trim. Towing capacity maxes out at 3,810 pounds for a stick shift SV. The V6 is significantly better on both counts, offering up to 1,430 pounds of payload capacity and a maximum 6,720 pounds of towing ability. Neither stat is class-leading, but these figures aren't far off from what the Frontier's competitive set can lug and tow.

Notable features are few and far between, but Nissan was did manage to give even the lowly S features such as Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, an auxiliary jack, and a USB port. A seven-inch touchscreen is standard on all but the top-spec Pro-4X. That trim oddly gets a smaller 5.8-inch screen, but it offers additional amenities such as SiriusXM and real-time traffic updates.

S

There might not be a lesser-equipped vehicle on the market than the $19,985 (all prices include the $995 destination charge) Frontier S. Features are scant – air conditioning and the seven-inch touchscreen are about as luxurious as it gets. Cloth manual seats, manual windows and locks, black bumpers and trim, 15-inch steel wheels, four speakers, and cruise control round out the list of noteworthy features. All S models are 2WD and four-cylinder powered. The five-speed manual is standard, while the five-speed automatic is a pricey $4,070 more. Other than the automatic, the only option is the $650 Work Truck Package. It's only available on models with the automatic and comes with a bedliner, bedrail caps, and rubber floor mats.

SV

One notch better than bereft S is the SV, which starts at $24,055 for a King Cab with the five-speed manual, 2WD, and the four-cylinder. Features wise, it betters the S by offering body-color trim and bumpers, premium cloth, six-speaker audio, power windows and locks, remote entry, 16-inch wheels, and power-adjustable mirrors. An SV can also be had with 4WD as well as the 4.0-liter V6. V6s with 4WD come slightly better equipped than 2WD models, getting features like hill descent control and hill start assist, front tow hooks, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

A number of options are available for the SV. The Value Truck Package is $1,890 and comes with fog lights, rear park assist, dual-zone climate control, heated seats, an alarm, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an auto-dimming mirror with compass and temperature.The $995 Midnight Package gives a more sinister look with gloss black trim, grille, and 18-inch wheels. A moonroof is $800.

Desert Runner

Make no mistake, the $27,295 Frontier Desert Runner is no Ford Raptor. However, it does indeed bring some extra capability over a regular Frontier, albeit in a very mild manner. Standard features over an SV include Bilstein shocks, 16-inch off-road wheels wrapped in tires with larger sidewalls, a satin-chrome grille, white-faced gauges, and two-tone cloth embossed with the Desert Runner script. It's only available with the V6, 2WD, and five-speed automatic transmission. There are no packages available on Desert Runner models.

Pro-4X

While the Desert Runner attempts to conjure up ideas of trophy trucks running wide open through sandy desert, the Pro-4X skews toward the more common off-road persona of rocks, mud, and dirt. It's available as either a short-bed Crew Cab or short-bed King Cab. All versions are V6 4WD models, but buyers can pick between the five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Pricing starts at $34,135 for a stick shift Crew Cab.

Compared with lower-spec trucks, the Pro-4X gets a small helping of unique features in line with its off-road image as well as some extra creature comforts. Mechanically, there's 16-inch off-road wheels, Bilstien shocks, a heavy-duty Dana 44 rear axle that can be electronically locked, and skid plates for the oil pan, gas tank, and transfer case. Ground clearance of 8.9 inches is highest out of all Frontiers. More luxurious features include automatic headlights, front fog lights, body-color trim, a bedliner, embroidered two-tone cloth upholstery, and heated front seats. The more comprehensive infotainment system is standard as well, and includes navigation, SiriusXM, and other various apps housed in a 5.8-inch touchscreen. That system also serves as home base for the standard 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo.

A $2,100 Premium Package is offered on Crew Cab trucks with the automatic. It includes leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, four-way power passenger seat, heated outside mirrors, and a moonroof.

SL

The swankiest Frontier is the $35,005 SL. It's available in either 2WD or 4WD, but only with the Crew Cab, short bed, V6, and five-speed automatic transmission. Simply put, the SL is essentially a Frontier with every option thrown at it. The contents of the Pro-4X's Premium Package are all standard here, as is the full nine yards of chrome trim – grille, door handles, running boards, bumpers, and the like are all finished in the shiny stuff. It also gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 18-inch wheels, the upgraded infotainment and 10-speaker audio, and Homelink. There are no options or packages for the SL.

CarsDirect Tip

Being so long in the tooth, the Frontier has proved itself over the years as being a durable truck. Yet this alone cannot sell a truck against competition that is, quite literally, 10 to 15 years ahead on the ever-upward curve of progress. How can a $35 grand SL ever be justified when a comparably-priced GMC Caynon or Ford Ranger will outclass it so comprehensively? This logic leads us to recommend a 2019 Nissan Frontier that's no higher up the totem pole than an SV. Being as outdated as it is, the value proposition of a stripped-down work truck is the best argument this hoary old rig can muster for itself.

Get your price on a Nissan Frontier »

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