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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
automatic transmission delivers perfectly timed shifts whether you're maneuvering in traffic or flinging the truck around in the sand
strong from a stop
drives better than expected
Car and Driver
Most reviewers agree that the optional V-6 engine is a must-have; with this engine, the 2009 Nissan Frontier performs admirably.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier is available with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that creates 152 horsepower coupled with 171 pound-feet of torque, "making it a decent choice only for those who need a low-cost, light-duty work truck," Edmunds says. The optional engine is a 4.0-liter V-6 that builds up 261 hp and 281 lb-ft. of torque—and this is a must-have if you're planning on using the Frontier for any appreciable amount of work. Car and Driver asserts "the Frontier stands out in its segment, thanks to its excellent 261-hp V-6 engine and its stellar steering and on-road handling." ConsumerGuide makes note of the fact that the automatic V-6 "kicks down quickly for good midrange passing punch."
The V-6 engine is also available in a four-wheel-drive option, and as Edmunds says, "Frontier 4x4s are capable off-road, thanks to a maximum 10.1 inches of ground clearance and plenty of suspension travel." New for 2009 is a PRO-4X Off-Road model specifically designed for drivers headed away from the pavement.
A five-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual transmission are both available on the 2009 Frontier, depending on the trim level and engine size. Edmunds says the six-cylinder's "automatic transmission delivers perfectly timed shifts whether you're maneuvering in traffic or flinging the truck around in the sand." 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's ride is also better than that of most pickup trucks. Car and Driver points out that the 2009 Nissan Frontier's "structure is extremely solid," and "the steering is tight and accurate." Edmunds reports that "ride quality on pavement is surprisingly good for a compact/midsize pickup truck, and the steering is tight and communicative," and ConsumerGuide calls the ride "absorbent," warning that passengers might notice bumps, but they don't jar like they do in some off-road vehicles.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier performs reasonably well, but the optional V-6 engine is a must-have.