Car And Driver: Buy This Version of the Nissan Frontier

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So goes Nissan’s approach to its 2019 mid-size truck, the Frontier. It’s gone nearly a decade without updates and other trucks in the segment have many contemporary features in comparison. Yet the Nissan Frontier continues to be a popular truck among buyers.

Although it seems that time has passed the Frontier by, it provides solid value for a reasonable price. If you look beyond the elemental cabin and the ancient styling, the Frontier has much to offer. For example, interior materials, while not luxurious, are durable.

Nissan also equips the Frontier with its configurable cargo system that has five bedrails and four moveable cleats. The system gives you myriad ways to stow and secure whatever you need to haul. And compared to rivals the Chevy Colorado and the Toyota Tacoma, the Frontier handles easily. With its standard 4-cylinder engine, it is also rated to tow more than 3,800 pounds, which is 300 pounds more than the Honda Ridgeline, the Ford Ranger, and the GMC Canyon as well as the Colorado and the Tacoma. 

Which version should you buy?

You might like the Nissan Frontier’s practicality but aren’t sure about its lack of modern features. So the question is: which version offers the most value for your money? It’s available in five trim levels from the base model S that starts at $20,035 to the top-of-the-line SL at $35,055.

For optimal value, Car and Driver likes the King Cab SV trim level with the 4X2 drivetrain, the optional V6 engine, and five-speed automatic transmission. This configuration starts at $25,720. The 4X4 drivetrain costs $2,890 more, but it’s a smart choice if the winters where you live are snowy.

The SV version is a mid-level trim that includes power locks and windows, which aren’t included on the base model Frontier. A 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is now standard across the 2019 Frontier lineup, and other modern amenities such as a rearview camera, air conditioning, and Bluetooth were added in the 2018 model.

While the King Cab style has a small rear seat that only kids and pets may find comfortable on long drives, it does afford more legroom than the larger Crew Cab. It comes with the same 73.3-inch truck bed as the Crew Cab Long Bed but costs less.

The Frontier’s 4.0-liter V6 engine delivers 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. It’s certainly not one of the most powerful V6s in its class, but it boosts towing capacity to 6,720 pounds using the 4X2 drivetrain. The tow rating for the 4X4 is 6,510 pounds. The truck’s payload maxes out at 1,460 pounds, putting it on par with that of the base model Honda Ridgeline.

Adding a package that makes a difference

Car and Driver recommends stepping up the truck’s conveniences and utility by adding the SV Value Truck Package. Interior amenities include heated front seats and dual-zone temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. You also get fog lights, the Nissan cargo-box channel system with four adjustable tie-downs, sliding bed extender, a Class IV tow hitch receiver, sonar parking sensors, spray-in bed liner, and a vehicle security system.

The starting price for this package is $1,890. It’s well worth it because it elevates the Frontier from a bare-bones work truck to one that’s more versatile and comfortable. So, spend less than $28,000 and you’ll have a durable, reliable Nissan pickup with enough contemporary features to measure up against its competition. By comparison, starting prices hover around or exceed $30,000 for a comparable Colorado LT, Ridgeline RT, or a Tacoma SR5. As outdated as the 2019 Nissan Frontier seems, you still can get a version with great value, modern comfort, and sufficient utility following C&D’s recommendations.