Driven: The 2023 Nissan Frontier Is Capable and Surprisingly Refined
Upon first stepping into the 2023 Nissan Frontier, I admit I was initially skeptical. The last Frontier I had the pleasure of driving was a second-generation model with an interior that felt cheap and a ride that felt choppy. Of course, all can be forgiven, considering I drove that Frontier nearly 10 years ago, and it wasn’t the top trim level. Also, it’s a truck; it’s not supposed to be silky smooth in its operation.
But alas, when I set out to drive the 2023 version, I was surprised. Its interior was very visually appealing and soft, and its ride was a little more refined than I thought it would be. It was clear that Nissan massaged out the kinks when it redesigned the Frontier for the 2022 model year.
The 2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab offers plenty of space and few luxury features
When I first sat in my 2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X tester, I was blown away at how nice the interior felt. My test truck for the week was outfitted with the PRO Premium package, which includes amenities like leather seats, a sunroof, and a Fender premium audio system. It also had the PRO Convenience package, which includes more luxury features like a heated steering wheel/front seats, a remote engine start, and a surround-view monitor.
Everything considered, the Frontier that I drove for a week was more luxurious than rugged. The seats were surprisingly comfortable, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel felt good in my hands. My only caveat is that the steering effort feels very heavy in low-speed driving situations, which can make it a bit of a chore when parking. The wide turning radius doesn’t help, either.
I found myself making five-point turns to back the truck into a parking space. But I will say that the surround-view monitor helps when making those tight maneuvers.
Driving the Nissan Frontier feels a little choppy but quieter than expected
When it comes to normal driving on normal roads, the Nissan Frontier handles well. Obviously, it’s far better suited to bomb down rocky trails and fire roads, which it does with ease. But the truck’s suspension translates well when having to drive over potholes and parking lot speed bumps. The suspension feels stiff, but it won’t beat you up.
The Frontier isn’t slow, either. Its 3.8-liter V6 engine puts out 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to get the truck up to 60 mph from a stop in only 7.3 seconds, according to Car and Driver’s testing. That’s not that fast, but again, it’s a truck – it’s not supposed to be fast.
That said, the Frontier offers plenty of power when you need to get onto the freeway or pass slower cars. The low-end torque also works well when climbing over small rocks or trudging through gravel roads.
Overall, the Nissan Frontier offers a smooth ride and a lot of capability
Ultimately, I recommend the 2023 Nissan Frontier over the Toyota Tacoma for anyone that needs a capable truck with a dash of luxury. The PRO-4X model comes equipped with Bilstein Off-Road shocks, a shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, and an electronic locking differential to handle the road when the pavement runs out. It can also tow up to 6,690 pounds, in case you need to do that.
Compared to the Tacoma, the Frontier’s suspension feels smoother, and its engine feels more responsive. Additionally, its interior looks and feels nicer, but you’ll have to opt for a few packages to get that. Regardless, the 2023 Nissan Frontier is a great choice if you need something rugged enough for the off-road and comfortable enough for the daily drive.