2020 Nissan Frontier

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
Shopping for a new Nissan Frontier?
See exclusive deals in your area
2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
July 20, 2020

Buying tip

The Frontier makes the most sense with when lightly optioned, so stick with the SV trim level.

features & specs

Crew Cab 4x2 S Automatic
Crew Cab 4x2 SV Automatic
Crew Cab 4x2 SV Automatic Long Bed
MPG
18 city / 24 hwy
MPG
18 city / 24 hwy
MPG
18 city / 24 hwy
MSRP
$27,900
MSRP
$28,800
MSRP
$31,410

A new V-6 gives buyers a reason to shop the 2020 Nissan Frontier this year, but waiting for next year’s redesign is a better idea.

Change comes slowly when you’re the 2020 Nissan Frontier. After a decade and a half with virtually no changes, the mid-size pickup gains a new V-6 engine and a high-tech 9-speed automatic transmission for 2020. 

The updates are big, but their news cycle will be short-lived. Nissan will finally stop building this generation Frontier by the end of 2020, at which time a redesigned truck will be unveiled. A new engine for a short model run is largely unprecedented, but we’ll admit that it got our attention. The new powertrain is vastly improved, but we admit that it whets our appetite for more to come. For now, the Frontier rates 3.8 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s not changed is the way the Frontier looks, rides, or handles. The same boxy styling that’s been around since the 2005 model year carries over, along with an interior that’s best described as durable. The only major change not under the hood is the addition of standard push-button start as well as a slimmed-down lineup of S, SV, and Pro-4X trim levels. Last year’s base inline-4, manual transmission, and high-trim SL have been shelved.

Review continues below

The new Frontier may boast the newest engine design on the market, but the 310-horsepower V-6 is wrapped up in the oldest vehicle available with a new-car smell and a full warranty. The truck shows its age in its cramped cabin, bumpy ride, extensive wind noise, basic infotainment system, and utter lack of collision-avoidance technology.

It’s that last demerit that will make the 2020 Frontier hard to recommend.

The truck makes the most sense this year in base S trim, which gains standard power windows and locks that at least bring it into the 21st century in terms of features. 


4

2020 Nissan Frontier

Styling

The style's the same but the game has changed for the old 2020 Nissan Frontier.

Odds are you know what the 2020 Nissan Frontier looks like by now. Its styling is familiar for two reasons: first, the 2020 Frontier’s body hasn’t changed much since it bowed in 2004, and secondly it sells pretty well. 

We dial a point back for its chunky, low-buck interior, but we don’t mind the way it looks on the outside.

The Frontier comes in two cab configurations: extended and crew, the latter of which has four front-hinged doors and is far more popular. Chrome bumpers are standard on all but the off-roady Pro-4X, a dressier look than the black-painted steel on many like-priced competitors. Pro-4X trucks go for a monochrome look. 

The beefy roof rack that’s available looks great and adds utility, though the wind noise it creates is a constant highway companion. 

The Frontier’s dash is plain and simple, with little in the way of fancy adornment. Most trucks are relentlessly greige inside, a hue unpleasantly reminiscent of hospital rooms. This year, the new 9-speed automatic transmission dictates a few modifications to the center console and a new shift lever—changes likely to go unnoticed by anyone not trading in an older Frontier.

Review continues below

7

2020 Nissan Frontier

Performance

A new 3.8-liter V-6 brings the Frontier into the new decade–its third, if you’re counting.

The 2020 Nissan Frontier looks and feels like last year’s model, at least until you start one up. Gone are the underwhelming base inline-4 and the gravely 4.0-liter V-6 offered last year. In their place is a new 3.8-liter V-6 rated at 310 horsepower. It sends power to the wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission, and a part-time four-wheel-drive system is once again optional. 

It's a good engine, but it has us thinking more about what's coming rather than what's here. It's a 6 for good power and pickup capability.

The Frontier continues to ride on a separate frame and is suspended by an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle with leaf springs. 

The Frontier rides fairly well, with good body control, accurate steering with plenty of heft, and enough suspension travel to soak up big bumps. Pro-4X versions arguably ride the best with their big tires and Bilstein shocks, which work in tandem to improve both on- and off-road ability. Pro-4X trucks also include a locking rear differential that could prove worthwhile when you least expect it. Generous ground clearance is another Frontier asset.

At highway speeds, the Frontier is impressively relaxing, with not too much wind roar and impressive straight-line stability.

Review continues below

3

2020 Nissan Frontier

Comfort & Quality

It may have a new engine, but the 2020 Nissan Frontier makes do with a very old cabin.

The 2020 Nissan Frontier’s interior is a throwback, and not in a good way. Its relatively narrow cabin didn’t impress us when it first launched for the 2005 model year. Time has not been kind, either.

We rate it at 3 out of 10, with points deducted from average due to the subpart rear seat and the overwhelming sense of cheapness. 

The front seats are firm and light on bolstering. Top trims are the only versions to offer height adjustment for the driver’s seat, which may making finding a comfortable position a challenge for some drivers.

Extended cabs have pint-size rear seats tolerable for children but best considered weatherproof storage. Crew cabs are more common, and their rear seats have acceptable leg and head room paired with an uncomfortably upright backrest. The standard cloth upholstery has a tough feel that suits the truck’s personality. 

Relentless plastic trim inside the cabin is far from luxurious. 

Extended cabs make use of a 73.3-inch bed that’s plenty practical. Crew cabs can be had with either that big bed or a more city-friendly 59.5-inch setup. Choice is good, but measure your garage first as crew cabs with the long bed are big trucks. Adjustable bed tie-downs are available, as is a factory-applied bedliner.

Review continues below

2

2020 Nissan Frontier

Safety

The 2020 Nissan Frontier is one of just a handful of new vehicles not available with collision-avoidance tech.

Even though it has been around since the dawn of time—or at least since George W. Bush was in his first term—we can’t assign the 2020 Nissan Frontier a score for its crashworthiness. That’s not because it hasn’t been tested. Instead, it’s because the tests were so long ago that federal and independent standards and procedures have changed enough that its old scores don’t automatically translate into 2020. 

We do have some data: the IIHS stops well short of assigning the pickup a “Top Safety Pick” score on account of “Poor” headlights and a “Marginal” rating in the small-overlap crash test. The NHTSA awarded the truck just three stars in front crash protection and earned a four-star overall score.

Yeah, it’s really that old. It’s so old, in fact, that it offers nothing in the way of modern crash-avoidance tech. Don’t look for automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, or active lane control. A rearview camera and six airbags are as good as it gets here.

Review continues below

4

2020 Nissan Frontier

Features

The 2020 Nissan Frontier is light on luxuries, but its price is low for a mid-size pickup.

It may boast the newest engine design on the market, but the 2020 Nissan Frontier is otherwise light and late on features. This is the first year power windows and locks come standard. We rate it at 4 out of 10. 

Its low price and big infotainment screen earn it points, but base trucks are very basic and no version can be had with advanced safety or convenience features.

The lineup starts with the Frontier S, which comes with air conditioning, a 7.0-inch screen for its audio system, and Bluetooth connectivity. 

A loaded-up Frontier Pro-4X comes awfully close to $40,000, though at least it’s lavish—by 2005 standards, that is. Features include leather seats that are heated up front, navigation, premium speakers, and a moonroof. 

The value play here is the $30,000 Frontier SV with four-wheel drive. It adds to the base truck tinted windows, alloy wheels, and a few other niceties. Heated seats and parking sensors are optional, though they stop well short of making the Frontier a luxury truck.

Review continues below

3

2020 Nissan Frontier

Fuel Economy

The more potent powertrain is also more efficient.

The new 3.8-liter V-6 is more fuel efficient than the outgoing engine, just barely.

Federal testers give the 2020 Frontier with four-wheel drive a 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined rating. That's a 3 on our scale.

Rear-drive pickups fare slightly better: 18/24/20 mpg. Compared to the outgoing version, that's 1-2 mpg better.

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
$26,790
MSRP based on King Cab 4x2 S Automatic
Change Style
See Your Price
3.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 4
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 3
Safety 2
Features 4
Fuel Economy 3
Compare the 2020 Nissan Frontier against the competition
  • 2020 Chevrolet Colorado

    5.0
    Compare Cars
  • 2020 Ford Ranger

    5.0
    Compare Cars
  • 2020 GMC Canyon

    4.8
    Compare Cars
  • 2020 Honda Ridgeline

    7.0
    Compare Cars
  • 2020 Toyota Tacoma

    5.3
    Compare Cars
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Nissan Frontier?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings

2020 Nissan Frontier Pricing Insights

  • 2020 Frontier is here
  • Rebates: $1,500 cash back
  • Lease: From $299 per month for 36 months
  • Finance: From 0% APR for 72 months
See Your Price