Though Nissan is known for its comfortable and advanced cars and SUVs, the automaker struggles against strong competition in the truck segment. Its midsize platform and affordable pricing have kept the Frontier selling well enough. But when stacked up against the best-selling trucks in America, the Nissan Frontier just simply cannot keep up. Where does the Frontier rank? And does the future of the Nissan Frontier look any brighter?
Where the Nissan Frontier ranks among other midsize pickups
Out of seven total mid-size pickup trucks, Car and Driver ranked the 2019 Nissan Frontier as the worst. Rounding out the last spot, the Frontier fell behind automakers like Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Jeep, and GMC. There have been no major changes to the Frontier since 2005, earning Car and Drivers’ low overall rating of 2.5 out of five and the comparison to an aged “box of wine.” Though the current Nissan Frontier has a competitive base price, it simply does not compete everywhere else.
The Frontier, without any major redesigns, seems to be showing its age as other truck brands offer up the competition with modern safety, tech, design, and performance features. Though a touchscreen display now comes standard in the current Nissan Frontier, it “still lacks many interior frills found in other mid-size trucks.” The few, small changes Nissan has made to the Frontier isn’t enough to stack up and is even described by Car and Driver as “an obsolete choice compared with its modern mid-size rivals.”
Even with low rankings among the competition, the Nissan Frontier still sells well. This is partly due to its ability to get the job done with sufficient towing capabilities, as well as its upper trim/package options that turn the Frontier into an off-road king. But the Frontier also has a low starting price, which helps it get points.
What the experts have to say
The experts at U.S. News give the 2019 Nissan Frontier a mediocre overall score of 6.9 (out of 10). It scored lowest in Interior and Critics’ Rating categories, at 6.2 and 6.4, respectively. With a lack of interior features, interior space, and lackluster powertrain options, U.S. News states the Nissan Frontier is just “an OK compact pickup truck.”
Consumer Reports doesn’t seem to think much differently, giving the 2019 Frontier a predicted reliability rating of three out of five and a predicted owner satisfaction rating of two out of five. The Frontier received only average safety ratings and an unimpressive 15 mpg overall in fuel economy.
Even Kelley Blue Book gives the 2019 Frontier an unremarkable 3.8 stars out of five. While customers seem to be happy with the Frontier, “it faces tough competition” that offers “more amenities and better fuel economy.”
Is there hope for the Frontier’s future?
The Nissan Frontier has been around for more than a decade and since then, it hasn’t received a major redesign. And with how it’s stacking up against the current competition, Nissan is making the obvious decision to design a new-generation Frontier. The only problem is, you’ll have to wait until some time in 2020 to get behind the wheel of a new, 2021 model year Nissan Frontier, according to Motor 1. But will the redesign be what the Frontier needs to get to the top of the segment?
Though the new Frontier will be built on the same platform as the current one, the “chassis and electrical architecture” will be updated, according to Automobile Magazine. It will also have updated safety, driver-assist, and connectivity technology. The powertrain will also be updated will a rumored six-cylinder that makes around 300 hp. The transmission will be updated from a five-speed unit to a newer, seven-speed automatic.