Research

Nissan Frontier

The Car Connection Nissan Frontier Overview

The Nissan Frontier is a mid-size pickup truck, made by the Japanese automaker in Mississippi. A relative of the full-size Titan truck, the Frontier has offered good cargo hauling capability as well as off-road ability, but its aging design has lost ground, especially in the face of renewed competition from GM's trucks and the updated Toyota Tacoma.

The Frontier's rivals include the just-refreshed Toyota Tacoma, and the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon—now in their second year, and now available with a turbodiesel engine.

MORE: Read our 2016 Nissan Frontier review

The Nissan Frontier is the successor to what was once called the Nissan Hardbody. That pickup brought Nissan out of its Datsun years, and became a staple of the small-truck market.

Introduced for 1998 and lightly updated over the course of a decade, the Frontier started to establish its current style in 2001 when it gained a more rugged appearance that mainly involved clipped-on wheel well flares, plus a chunkier-looking grille and front air dam.

These models did quite well with the standard 148-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; the 168-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 engine was a decent choice for those who towed or hauled heavy loads. Most Frontiers of this vintage are regular or King Cab (extended) body styles, though a Crew Cab model was introduced for 2000.

Nissan introduced a new Frontier for 2005, and that same basic truck continues to be offered today, a decade later. The current Frontier is based on the company's F-Alpha architecture, which was first introduced for the larger Titan pickup. This Frontier is larger and slightly heavier than the one it replaced. Because of this, Nissan markets its smaller pickup as a mid-sizer. Both the Frontier and Titan are getting on in years, with a new Titan coming very soon and a Frontier replacement likely a short time after.

With its 2005 redesign, the Frontier made some major advances in safety. For a few years, the Frontier was rated "good" in many tests by the IIHS--unlike compact trucks like the Ranger and last-generation Colorado and Canyon. Since then, not much has been done in the way of crash testing, however.

For 2007, a longer-bed Crew Cab model was first offered, which gave the Frontier nearly full-size proportions. In 2009 Nissan gave the Frontier a mid-cycle refresh, with slightly different front-end styling as well as revised interior trim. A more focused PRO-4X off-road model was also released. More recently, the Frontier received a small fuel-economy boost, and a new Desert Runner package. Bluetooth became standard on most models, and Nissan expanded availability of dual-zone climate control, navigation, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors.

Today's Frontiers don't do nearly as well with the 152-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which feels overwhelmed even on the limited models in which it was available. But the 261-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 that's offered with this generation is strong and smooth, with plenty of torque and a relaxed character with the automatic transmission.

A choice of extended- and crew-cab body styles are offered, as is four-wheel drive. Many Frontiers get a standard spray-on bedliner, while the Utili-track channel and tie-down system is handy for securing smaller but heavy items like an engine or a small ATV. Both were market standouts when introduced but have since been adopted by other truckmakers.

In recent years, Nissan has moved production of the Frontier from Tennessee to its newer truck, SUV, and commercial-vehicle plant in Mississippi.

A new Frontier had been expected in the next model year or two, and Nissan has shown a concept Frontier pickup outfitted with a diesel engine. According to latest reports, though, the Frontier might not get a replacement until the 2017 model year.

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
Monday, September 5, 2016
2016 Nissan Frontier 4WD Crew Cab SWB Manual PRO-4X

Great truck... Hope gas mileage improves

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I bought a SV model. I'm very pleased with this truck. Although it is my first purchase of a new truck, my last being a '79 Datsun. This truck has room for everything, storage bins under the rear seats, decent... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
Saturday, January 2, 2016
2016 Nissan Frontier 4WD King Cab Automatic SV

Everything I expected, except for fuel economy.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Currently less than 600 miles. I Like most everything about the Frontier. Had 13" of snow recently, the 4 wheel drive really was appreciated. Got 14.8 MPG since last fill up (half city, half interstate). Drove... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
For 2016 Nissan Frontier

Second Frontier

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I recently sold my 2006 Frontier LE and bought a 2016 Pro 4X. I did not consider the GM twins, as I did not like their looks and Frontier gave more features for same or less money. I did test drive a Tacoma... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
See all user reviews »
2017
The Car Connection
See the nominees and vote »
2017
The Car Connection
Best Car to Buy
Coming Soon
Stay up-to-date
Get updates about this model emailed to you.
  • New car reviews for this model by our editors
  • News including price changes, new models, or recall info
  • New incentives and rebates that are being offered for this vehicle