First Glance at the Nissan Frontier Truck
All Crew Cab Frontiers are powered by Nissan’s growling 4.0-liter V-6 which produces 261 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 281 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm and backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. Only V-6 SE models have an available six-speed manual transmission. For the economically minded, King Cabs can be outfitted with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to either an automatic or manual five-speed transmission. Road imperfections are smoothed out by a front independent and rear leaf spring suspension damped by Bilstein shocks. Stopping power is provided by discs at all four corners with a standard ABS system on all models.
A moonroof package is available, but can only be purchased in addition to one of the value packages. On the 4x4 PRO-4X, the moonroof package also includes a roof rack. All 4x4 models come standard with 4-wheel limited slip braking technology, while an electronic locking rear differential is standard on the 4x4 PRO-4X model.
In the Nissan Frontier Driver's Seat
Hard plastics abound, but feel durable and of substance and blend into the other interior elements of the Frontier instead of standing out as a way to save money. This durability makes the Frontier ideal for both private and commercial use. The only place the plastics became a sticking point, both figuratively and literally were the door panel moldings. On both sides they pressed into our knees with enough discomfort to quickly remind us why we didn’t have our legs against them in the first place.
We like all the storage built into this truck, cupholders and door slots are roomy and plentiful. The clamshell dual glove box offers plenty of room for maps and other things you want to keep close at hand. The real winner, however, is the rear under seat storage with netting that holds things in to secure items safely inside the cab and out of sight of prying eyes.
On the Road in the Frontier Pickup Truck
The suspension soaks up road imperfections while minimizing jarring impacts to the driver and passengers to small hiccups. Heading into twisty mountain roads, the Frontier never lost its composure. The five-speed automatic kept the motor wound up and responsive through uphill sections and hairpin turns, but also allowed the engine to purr along in overdrive thorough straighter, flatter sections.
On the dirt the V-6 pushes the Frontier up obstacles with ease and the four wheel limited slip keeps power to the wheels that need it. However, the Frontier’s tendency to cruise in higher gears down hills would become a liability if it weren’t for the Hill Descent Assist which is standard on five-speed automatic 4x4 models. We highly recommend choosing a model with this feature as Nissan’s Hill Descent Assist is one of the least intrusive, yet, best functioning in the industry.
A truck that handles this well in corners needs to keep its payloads under control when being driven enthusiastically. The Frontier comes standard with a spray on bedliner and a Utili-track C-channel tie-down system. Combined with the bed divider included in the SE value package, cargo stayed right where we loaded it for easy unloading upon arrival.
Journey's End, best value for the price
Another competitor to consider is the Suzuki Equator. The Equator is the same truck as the Frontier, built by Nissan with a Suzuki front fascia and badging. An Equator equipped comparably to the Frontier we drove runs $1,400 more than the Nissan, but the Suzuki comes with a better warranty, and in our opinion, the better looking grille. The two combined make it worth the extra money, especially for every mile you log after the Nissan warranty would have run out. However, both trucks are so similar, that those on a budget looking to save that $1,400, would do well to stick with the Frontier, a very capable, comfortable and fun to drive small pickup.
Ultimately, it’s the sound and performance of the V-6 drivetrain and comfort factor on long road trips that sells us on the Nissan Frontier. It’s a workhorse you can drive every day, without always having to stop at the bank and gas station.