2019 Ford Ranger vs. 2019 Nissan Frontier: Compare Trucks

March 7, 2019
2019 Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger

In pitting the 2019 Ford Ranger against the 2019 Nissan Frontier against one other, we find ourselves comparing the newest mid-size pickup truck on the market with the elder statesman of (relatively) inexpensive haulers. The Ranger was revived for 2019 while the Frontier’s design hasn’t been significantly updated since 2005.

It’s no surprise, then, that the 2019 Ranger is the clear victor here. We rate the Ranger at 5.8 out of 10, which is good for a pickup truck, given our scale applies equally to all new cars. The 2019 Frontier comes in at 4.0, one of the lowest scores we’ve assigned.

MORE: Read our 2019 Ford Ranger and 2019 Nissan Frontier reviews

The 2019 Frontier has its merits, namely its low price and its wide range of configurations compared to the new 2019 Ranger.

2019 Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger

Truthfully, the Ford isn’t the freshest new car around, either. Ford revived the name for the American market for 2019, but the truck we’re just now getting has been sold overseas for a few years. It feels its age, but not as much as the Frontier.

The Ranger is available in three trim levels with a choice of either an extended cab with a 6-foot bed or a crew cab with a 5-foot bed. The Frontier can be had in one of five trims in either extended- or crew-cab bodies. A 6-foot bed comes on extended-cab Frontiers, while crew cabs come with either that long bed or 5-foot bed.  

Underhood, the Ranger comes with a 270-horsepower 2.3-liter turbo-4 teamed to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It may be small, but it’s powerful, and it provides the Ranger with brisk moves. Rear-wheel drive is standard and Ford follows an unfortunate pickup truck tradition by making four-wheel drive a hefty $4,000 option.

Nissan makes a 152-hp inline-4 standard on the Frontier. It’s adequate for basic needs, but with passengers or a load aboard, the optional 261-hp V-6 is worthwhile. Unlike the Ford, the Nissan is available with either a 5-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual. The manual gearbox makes the most of the Frontier’s gruff but strong V-6 and is an increasingly rare choice for pickup-truck buyers.

Properly equipped, the Ranger is rated to lug up to 7,500 pounds, about 800 more than the Frontier. Both trucks can be had with a similar suite of off-road gear like all-terrain tires and electronic locking rear differentials. Ford scores for making its four-wheeling bits available on every trim level instead of relegating them to a costly trim level like the Frontier Pro-4X.

2019 Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier

The Ranger’s interior is a far more comfortable place to be, too. Its design doesn’t break much ground, but its seats are comfortable, outward vision is good, and the crew cab even has decent rear-seat room. The Frontier’s interior is awash in hard, cheap plastics, and although outward vision is good, it lacks convenient storage places and its seats are flat and featureless.

Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger features and safety

The base Frontier S wears a $20,000 price tag that comes with more asterisks than features. Want an automatic transmission? That’ll cost you $4,000 more. Power windows, locks, mirrors, chrome bumpers, and alloy wheels? Prepare to step up to the Frontier SV that costs about $25,000.

That’s about where the 2019 Ranger XL starts, and it’s probably the bottom line for most shoppers. For $25,500, the Frontier XL lacks alloy wheels, painted bumpers, and carpeting, but it comes with automatic emergency braking, power features, and even a wi-fi hotspot.

Crew cabs are more popular, and by the time you’ve added four-wheel drive and a few options, both trucks easily top $30,000. With every box ticked, the Frontier Pro-4X comes in at about $37,500, but it comes up short on safety and convenience features that can be added to the Ranger such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.

The 2019 Ranger hasn’t been crash-tested yet, but the bar isn’t high considering the Frontier’s subpar NHTSA and IIHS scores. The Ranger also comes standard with automatic emergency braking, a potentially life-saving feature that underscores our wholehearted recommendation.

Summary

5.8
Expert Rating
The 2019 Ford Ranger isn’t a revival, it’s a comprehensive rethink.
4.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Nissan Frontier is an endearing, affordable mid-size truck that lacks the flash of competitors—we like that.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Ford Ranger has clean, but unimaginative lines.
Read More
4.0
Expert Rating
The Nissan Frontier’s look is starting to blend in to the surroundings by now.
Read More

Performance

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Ford Ranger packs big-pickup punch under its hood.
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4.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Nissan Frontier equipped with a V-6 impresses in its performance.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Ford Ranger has more interior space than most mid-size pickup trucks.
Read More
4.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Nissan Frontier is many things, but comfortable and spacious aren’t two.
Read More

Safety

The 2019 Ford Ranger hasn’t been crash tested yet, but all models come with good basic safety gear.
Read More
The 2019 Nissan Frontier lacks modern safety systems, or a modern safety scorecard.
Read More

Features

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Ford Ranger is available in more configurations than most rivals, but it’s light on standard infotainment tech.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Base versions of the Frontier lack some necessities; a little bit more money goes a long way, though.
Read More

Fuel Economy

4.0
Expert Rating
For a mid-size pickup truck, the 2019 Ford Ranger is a fuel-sipper.
Read More
3.0
Expert Rating
The 2019 Nissan Frontier drinks fuel like it’s 2004.
Read More

MSRP

from $24,000
from $18,990

Invoice

from $23,280
from $18,347

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

18
21

Engine

Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.3 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L

Drivetrain

Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Rear Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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