The Nissan Frontier debuted in 2005, making it one of the oldest new vehicles on the market today. Although this mid-size truck seems downright prehistoric to its critics, the Frontier still outsells newcomers such as the Jeep Gladiator and the revived Ford Ranger. There are good reasons for this: the Frontier is a tough, capable truck.
However, the wide variety of trims and options available on the 2019 Nissan Frontier might make the decision process challenging. And while the base model truck is inexpensive, which model gives you the best value for your needs? We’ve found some answers in reviews from Autotrader, The Drive, and MotorTrend. We recommend that you check out these three reviews, too.
The Frontier is a solidly built pickup yet smaller and more nimble than some of its larger competitors. Still, it’s almost as big as Nissan’s prior generation full-size Titan. It handles well and is also a competent tower, hauler, and offroader.
The truck’s base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder inline but a more robust V6 is available in the upper trims. The starting price on the base model 2WD Frontier S King Cab with the base engine and 5-speed manual transmission is $19,090. A similar model with automatic transmission costs $23,160. The Autotrader reviewer suggests that this variant would be a good fit for buyers who want a simple light-duty truck.
But the base model Frontier has a few shortcomings. It lacks the infotainment, safety, and engine options that come standard in rivals such as the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger. Mediocre fuel economy and outdated interior materials and styling are other drawbacks. Also, 4WD and crew cabs aren’t available options on the trucks with four-cylinder engines.
For a family driver, the reviewer likes the 2WD Frontier Crew Cab with a V6 at $25,995. Another favorite is the offroader PRO-4X Crew Cab with a 6-speed manual and Nissan’s Utili-track system for hauling. This version of the PRO-4X costs $34,185.
Besides offering many details about individual Frontier variants, the Autotrader review also has helpful brief writeups of comparable trucks.
An opinion from The Drive
James Gilboy of The Drive says the base model Frontier is a good deal because it’s the cheapest truck on the market you can get with a warranty. But he focuses primarily on the PRO-4X, which is positioned to compete against the similarly priced Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, the Ford Ranger FX4, and the Jeep Gladiator. Gilboy feels that, for a crew cab truck priced around $34,000, the Frontier doesn’t have the modern features to keep up with its rivals not does it have incentives to attract buyers.
The PRO-4X that the folks at The Drive tested was a 4.0-liter V6 2WD with on-demand 4WD and a 5-speed automatic transmission. It priced out at $36,445, over $2,000 more than the base offroader. Gilboy says that this truck is very good but is overpriced because it’s so outdated.
For example, the cheap interior materials haven’t been updated for years. Even back in 2004 Edmunds rated the cabin as average. Another pain point is that the Frontier has no push-button starter. The tech is also antiquated since there is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Despite the PRO-4X’s lack of modern features, it does offer some amenities. These include its high-quality stereo system, standard dual-zone climate control and heated seats, and a 360-degree backup camera.
Apart from these criticisms, Gilboy has positive comments about the Frontier. Like the Autotrader reviewer, he thinks that the truck is an adept tower and hauler, regardless of the trim. Its smaller size is an advantage both on the trail and in parking lots.
The PRO-4X, in particular, has everything it needs to be a great offroader with big all-terrain-tires, Bilstein shocks, 4WD with low range, locking rear differential, and a full spare tire.
Gilboy has sound advice for the buyer who wants a Frontier PRO-4X but wants to save some money. Instead of buying a new one, he suggests getting a lightly-used model. Or, if a buyer can try a hardball deal next year when the brand-new 2021 Frontier arrives.
MotorTrend’s look back on the 2012 Frontier
Back in 2014, MotorTrend’s Melissa Spiering wrote about the 2012 Nissan Frontier 4×4 PRO-4X. It’s a final-verdict review following 31,000 miles and 14 months of testing.
This review is worth reading mainly because the truck Spiering described is almost exactly the same truck in the other two reviews. The truck specs out the same and photos in this review reveal a PRO-4X that looks nearly identical to the one in the other reviews.
Spiering had similar praise for this older PRO-4X. She liked its size and its powerful V6 engine. And she, like the other two reviewers, appreciated it towing, hauling, and off-road capabilities. The same complaint about the Frontier’s older, plasticky interior is also included in this five-year-old review. Even its fuel economy is pretty much the same.
The MotorTrend review is proof that the Frontier PRO-4X and the truck’s other trims haven’t changed all that much. The Frontier seemed like an aging but excellent truck to Spiering five years ago. It’s pretty much the same today. So the final takeaway for a would-be buyer is, again, to save money and find a lower-mileage preloved PRO-4X to enjoy.