- Rugged styling
- V-6 performance
- Four-door version’s flexibility
- Longest bed is six feet
- Interior trim is mid-grade
For those of us who don't live on a ranch, the 2008 Nissan Frontier is large enough to haul real people and cargo, but sized for the urban-congestion reality.
The 2008 Nissan Frontier pickup is derived from the same frame as the larger Nissan Titan. It's not full-size, but it's more properly thought of as a mid-size truck, since it isn't quite as small as the old Nissan truck or the Ford Ranger.
The style is a good mix of straight struck lines and some carlike curves around the large chrome-bar grille and at the lower edge of the side-rear windows. Grey plastic and orange markings trim the interior, and though the plastics and fabrics look inexpensive, the design is straightforward and logical.
Two engines are offered on the 2008 Nissan Frontier. The optionally available 4.0-liter V-6 puts out 261 horsepower, while the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder develops 152 hp. Five- or six-speed manual transmissions are available, as is a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ranges from 19/23 mpg with the four-cylinder manual versions to 14/19 mpg with the big V-6, automatic Frontier. Performance spans the range, too, with four-cylinders slogging particularly hard against the truck's increased size and weight. The V-6 Frontier, however, feels strong and passes other vehicles fairly easily at highway speeds. It works especially well with the five-speed automatic transmission, which never hesitates to find the right gear and go if a burst of power is needed.
The 2008 Nissan Frontier comes in either rear- or four-wheel drive and in four-door King Cab and Crew Cab versions. The former configuration includes front-hinged rear access doors and flip-up backseats, while the latter comes with conventional rear-hinged doors and a full-sized bench seat. The King Cab has two small, rear-hinged doors providing access to the smallish space behind the front, where you'll find a small backseat that children can be happy with or that two adults can marginally use in an absolute pinch. The Crew Cab offers a full-size backseat like an SUV, with normal forward-opening doors, easy entry, and enough space for two adults to sit for extended trips. The driving position is upright and good, and the seats feel more comfortable than in any other compact pickup we can remember.
A "high-utility" pickup bed includes both a factory-applied spray-in bed liner and a "Utili-track" cargo tie-down system. The longest bed, though, is six feet long, which limits somewhat its workhorse utility. The 2008 Nissan Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control testify to the 2008 Nissan Frontier's off-roading credentials, and serious enthusiasts will want to check out the NISMO off-road package, which adds skid plates, an upgraded suspension with Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differential, and knobby-style tires.
A limited-slip differential, leather seats, a high-powered Rockford Fosgate audio system, and a choice of either XM or Sirius Satellite Radio can be ordered. For 2008, Nissan's Frontier also offers Bluetooth.
Standard features on the 2008 Nissan Frontier include four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes and tire pressure monitors. Side and curtain airbags are available as options. Crash ratings are mostly four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts.