The 4.0-liter V-6 that's standard on most Frontiers and optional on some of them makes 261 horsepower, giving the Frontier strong acceleration and good passing punch; nearly all reviewers recommend it over the base 152-hp four-cylinder engine.
By nearly all accounts, the V-6 engine provides plenty of power and torque to move the Frontier quickly—even with a load. 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." The relatively low power and torque ratings of the 2.5-liter four make it "a decent choice only for those who need a low-cost, light-duty work truck," Edmunds says. Popular Mechanics doesn't think the four-cylinder is so bad, commenting that it makes "a powerful argument for someone whose hauling needs preclude a thirstier V6."
The 2010 Frontier comes with either a five-speed (four-cylinder) or six-speed (V-6) manual transmission or a five-speed automatic (either engine). Manual gearboxes have long throws but are easy to live with, while the "automatic transmission delivers perfectly timed shifts whether you're maneuvering in traffic or flinging the truck around in the sand," raves Edmunds. ConsumerGuide also notes that the automatic V-6 "kicks down quickly for good midrange passing punch." Fuel economy ranges from just 14 mpg city, 19 highway with the V-6 up to 19/23 mpg with the four-cylinder and manual transmission.
The PRO-4X Off-Road model adds heavy-duty components, including Bilstein off-road chocks and off-road alloy wheels, and it's equipped for those who plan to use their truck in the toughest terrain. Four-wheel drive is only offered with the V-6 engine. Edmunds says, "Frontier 4x4s are capable off-road, thanks to a maximum 10.1 inches of ground clearance and plenty of suspension travel."
You might not expect much driving enjoyment from pickups, but the Frontier handles quite well. Car and Driver says that "the steering is tight and accurate," while Edmunds describes it as "tight and communicative." Popular Mechanics also notes the "accurate and calm steering and well-damped body motions."