Can the 2022 Nissan Frontier Compete With the 2021 Jeep Gladiator?

Midsize trucks are the name of the game right now. Everyone and their brother is making a small truck. It’s like the 70s all over again, and I, for one, am here for it. Not everyone needs a giant Ford F-150 that can tow a gazillion pounds and carry Central Park in the bed. Most of us need about a six-foot space to throw a couch and some boxes to help a friend move. The 2022 Nissan Frontier got a major update and redesign, but can it hang with the coolest small truck of the season, the 2021 Jeep Gladiator? 

Is the 2022 Nissan Frontier a good truck?

A light gray 2022 Nissan Frontier, a midsize truck, sits beside a tree among a rugged dessert
2022 Nissan Frontier | Nissan

The midsize truck segment is as highly contested right now as it has been in decades. Autoblog reports that even though the market is highly competitive in this segment right now, the Frontier is going with an odd tactic; it will only come with one engine option from the previous model. While the Frontier is still getting quite the update, Nissan is mainly basing it off the old platform. As the truck hasn’t even been tested yet, no one knows how it will actually be, but we have the specs to see how it might compete against the cool-kid midsize pickup in the back of the room; the Jeep Gladiator.

How does the 2022 Nissan Frontier compare to the 2021 Jeep Gladiator? 

Let’s start with the beating heart of these pint-sized pickups. The Nissan is keeping the same 310-hp 3.8-liter V6 from the 2020 model, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. This has proven to be a well-liked engine, and many are happy to see it stick around for the new model. 

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon beat out Ford in Consumer Reports' truck rankings
The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon beat out Ford in Consumer Reports’ truck rankings | FCA

The Jeep Gladiator is available with either a 285-hp 3.6-liter V6 or a 260-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6. Jeep also gives a six-speed manual as standard and an optional eight-speed automatic. The Frontier has the Gladiator beat on torque between the two gas-powered motors, at 281 lb-ft vs. the Jeep’s 260 lb-ft. However, the diesel option scores the Jeep some points with 442 lb-ft of torque. 

With those metrics considered, it should come as no surprise that the Gladiator (when properly equipped) can outhaul and tow the Nissan Frontier. 

There are more important things to consider than power

Considering that the Gladiator outweighs basically everything else in its class, even though Nissan hasn’t released the Frontier’s weight, I think it’s safe to assume it will clock in under the Gladiator, making that power difference even out a touch. 

2022 Nissan Frontier driver's and passenger seat
2022 Nissan Pro4-X cabin | Nissan

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Nissan has yet to give any fuel economy numbers for the Frontier; however, if you compare it to all the others in the segment, it wouldn’t be surprising if it beat the gas-powered Jeep’s 19 mpg. Assuming it, in fact, weighs less than the Jeep, it should get a little better or at least about on par with the jeep. But if you count the 3.0-liter diesel engine, Jeep has a pretty good shot at being the most fuel-efficient. The turbo-diesel optioned Gladiator gets a whopping 24 miles to the gallon, putting it far above any others in the segment. 

True to form 

I think it is fair to say that the Nissan is likely to be more true to the segment than the Jeep. The Jeep is not that small of a truck. It is not only taller and longer than the 2022 Nissan Frontier; it is taller and longer than every other truck in its class. The Gladiator is nearly 10-inches longer than the next closest truck. At its tallest, the Gladiator is nearly 4-inches taller than the Frontier too. The Jeep is significantly bigger than the Frontier in every way. 

The Jeep beats out the Nissan in most categories, but if you truly want a small truck, the Nissan might be just enough smaller to feel more true to form. We will still have to wait to see what the 2022 Frontier is really all about when it comes out.