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The two-wheel-drive Desert Runner Nissan Frontier is dead. But long live the Desert Runner in the new PRO-X trim. For more than a 15 years now Nissan’s PRO-4X trims have been some of the most coveted off-road trucks, and the Desert Runner has simply held down a less-expensive price point as a two wheel drive version.

However, does the new PRO-X take over where the Desert Runner left off? Is it a jacked-up regular truck, or a two-wheel drive version of the PRO-4X?

What’s the PRO trim on Nissan trucks?

A 2023 Nissan Frontier mid-size truck sits in a field, it may have a recall.
2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X | Nissan

The PRO trim levels on the Nissan Frontier add a lot of goodies that you don’t get on regular Nissan Frontiers. While the base S and SV trucks get twin-tube shocks, the PRO package adds Bilstein brand shocks front and rear. The PRO trucks also get standard LED lights, fog lamps, a compass, premium leather seats, and 10-speaker stereos. Both PRP trucks also get a larger 9.0-inch touchscreen as well as door-to-door navigation standard.

In addition, 17-inch beadlock-style wheels are also an option.

The PRO-X has several advantages over the PRO-4X

Thanks to the lack of four-wheel drive, the PRO-X trim weighs more than 200 pounds less than the PRO-4X which allows it to tow 200 pounds more, or carry 200 pounds more in the bed. That weight reduction also improves the trucks front/rear balance a couple percentage points. It also has 0.4 inches more clearance measured at he rear differential. It even gets slightly better gas mileage, 18 city for the two-wheel drive vs. 17 for the PRO-4X.

Is the PRO-X a proper off-road truck?

A green Nissan PRO truck on a hardpack dirt road
2022 Nissan PRO truck | Nissan

The PRO-X could be an ideal off-road truck. Two-wheel drive trucks are great for a lot of reasons, and not the least of which is their reduced complexity. Generally, 2WD trucks are great if you avoid rocks, sand, mud, and steep ravines. In fact, most of us who drive off-road find we don’t need to engage four-wheel drive as often as we think (or tell our friends) we do.

Since the PRO-X has decent clearance, the Bilstein shocks, and off-road tires from the factory, it’s actually better equipped than several of the non-lowered 4×4 trucks you’ll see on the trail. If most of your off-road adventures are on hard pack, or limited to fire roads, you could be just fine with a PRO-X, and you can save $3,000 in the process. If you’re still unsure, has a primer on how to make your 2×4 peform like a 4×4. The 2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-X starts at $35,720, while the PRO-4X starts at $38,720.

What does the PRO-4X add?

2023 Nissan Frontier PRO truckinterior
2023 Nissan Frontier interior | Nissan

The big addition to the PRO-4X is, of course, the four-wheel drive system that has a two speed transfer case. That also includes limited slip differentials front and rear. PRO-4X gets front steel and aluminum skid plates, while the PRO-X does not.

In either truck you can get a 360-degree camera, but in the 4X you can get Nissan’s off-road mode, which acts like a trail spotter.


3 Best Features of the 2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X