Trucks & SUVs

Should You Buy the Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition?

The Nissan Frontier is an interesting offering in today’s popular truck market. Its story goes back to the 2000s when mid-size trucks weren’t as big of a deal as they are today. Smaller pickup trucks were used in fleet duty back then and not as the personal vehicles of regular citizens for work and travel.

Today, trucks are more popular, and many are buying them as personal vehicles. They now offer more creature comforts, efficiency, safety and technology than ever before along with the normal truck functions in a more manageable way

How does the Nissan Frontier measure up? And what does the Midnight Edition add to that?

Nissan’s Frontier today

According to Motor Trend, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the 2020 Nissan Frontier is still a very practical and popular mid-size pickup truck.  The bad news? According to Car and Driver, it’s a “vehicular fossil.” 

Unlike Nissan’s full-size Titan, the Frontier hasn’t changed a lot since its introduction in 2005. The Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, and Toyota Tacoma were all recently redesigned, while the Frontier is still pretty much the same truck it was fourteen years ago.

That doesn’t mean it’s without appeal, though. It may not have all the popular technology, driver assists, or infotainment offerings. Its starting price is pretty affordable though. Its rugged cabin and configurable cargo box are appealing to those who know Frontier is an excellent work truck. It’s got admirable tow ratings and an off-road model that’s reasonably priced too.

Nissan realizes there are shortcomings. In an attempt to make up for some of that, it’s added the optional Midnight Edition package. But is it just window dressing? 

The Midnight Edition

The Midnight Edition package lends a more dynamic look to the Frontier with its black accents and 18-inch wheels. The fenders flare and the grille is attractive. Even so, it really can’t compete with the sleek lines and curves of its peers. It’s square and boxy with huge halogen headlights making it look plain and outdated in comparison. Still, the fenders flare and the grille is attractive.

The interior is basic with mostly gray plastic and a few silver accents to break up the monotony. There’s adequate storage space though and the cloth seats are comfortable. The center console seems very antiquated and the steering wheel is vertically-angled and awkward.

Technology on the Frontier, even with this package, is pretty much non-existent. The Midnight Edition builds on the SV trim. It doesn’t add any actual equipment aside from a five-inch screen and the basics like air, Bluetooth, cruise control, and satellite radio.

When it comes to performance, Frontier has torque, particularly if you opt for the 4.0-liter V6 with 281 lbs-ft. The standard 261 horses it offers is the lowest in class though as is the 1,350-pound payload rating. The chassis trumps some of its more contemporary peers and it doesn’t slack like Toyota’s Tacoma. It can almost tow as much as the Tacoma. It has an impressive approach angle of 31.5 degrees too. There’s an old-fashioned five-speed automatic transmission on this trim.

When it comes to safety features, the Frontier lacks many that are standard in many other vehicles today, which doesn’t help this older truck compete in its class. The Midnight Edition packages adds nothing for safety either. Essentially just a rear parking sensor and a backup camera.

The Frontier also is the bottom of its class when it comes to fuel-efficiency. It gets 15/21/17 mpg for city, highway, and combined respectively. With a four-cylinder engine, those numbers improve slightly. The numbers are below those of Colorado (17/24/29), Ridgeline (18/25/21), and Tacoma (18/23/20).

Pricing

The Midnight Edition Nissan Frontier tested by the team at Motor Trend had a price tag of $32,425. It’s likely the least expensive “special edition” in its class.

But it’s pricey when you consider the base truck is just $20,500. The SV Crew Cab is only $29,540 before options and the Midnight Edition was based on that. For not a lot more, however, you can get a Tacoma SR5 for $34,540 or even a Chevrolet Colorado with a V6. Both of those have more modern safety features and technology the Midnight Edition of the Nissan Frontier.

Is the special edition worth buying? Aside from style changes, the package really doesn’t anything of substance to the truck.