- V-6 performance
- Rugged good looks
- Four-door flexibility
- Interior trim feels cheap
- Longest bed is six feet
- Ride can be busy
The 2009 Nissan Frontier is a dependable, tough vehicle that can handle a lot in a work situation but isn't out of place in more suburban pursuits.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier pickup is derived from the same frame as the larger Nissan Titan. It's actually a mid-size truck, much larger than true compacts like the Ford Ranger.
Straight truck lines and some carlike curves around the large chrome-bar grille and at the lower edge of the side-rear windows give the Frontier a good style that's tough and charismatic. Gray 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 2009 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. 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. Five- or six-speed manual transmissions are available, as is a five-speed automatic transmission, which never hesitates to find the right gear and go if a burst of power is needed. Fuel economy ranges from 19 mpg city, 23 highway with the four-cylinder manual versions to 14/19 mpg with the big V-6, automatic Frontier. The 2009 Nissan Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier comes in either rear- or four-wheel drive and in four-door King Cab and Crew Cab versions. 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 King Cab 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. Two small, rear-hinged doors provide access to the cozy space behind the front in King Cabs, where you'll find a backseat that children can be happy with or that two adults can marginally use in an absolute pinch. The driving position is upright and good, and the seats feel more comfortable than in any other compact pickup we can remember.
The Frontier offers more than just a bare-bones steel bed in back; the "high-utility" pickup bed includes both a factory-applied spray-in bedliner, while a "Utili-track" cargo tie-down system is a good choice for those who carry small but heavy items in back. The longest bed, though, is six feet long, which limits somewhat its workhorse utility.
Standard features on the 2009 Nissan Frontier include four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes and tire pressure monitors. Options include a limited-slip differential, leather seats, a high-powered Rockford Fosgate audio system, and a choice of either XM or Sirius Satellite Radio. Crash ratings are mostly four stars for front impacts and five stars for side impacts. Side and curtain airbags are available as options.
Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control testify to the 2009 Nissan Frontier's off-roading credentials, and serious enthusiasts will want to check out 2009's new PRO-4X Off-Road model.