What Car and Driver Hated Most About the Nissan Frontier

Automaker Nissan is known for its reliable and impressive passenger vehicles. But breaking into the truck segment as a best-selling rival has always been a struggle for Nissan. Its midsize pickup, the Frontier, offers affordable pricing and durability but seems to fall behind its ever-popular competition in every other way. And the experts have certainly noticed. Here’s what they had to say about the lackluster Nissan Frontier.

What Car and Driver liked the least about the Nissan Frontier

The experts at Car and Driver only afford the 2019 Nissan Frontier the below-average score of 2.5 out of five. After years without any major changes, the Frontier falls behind its midsize competition on the market. Car and Driver claim “anyone interested in modern powertrains, contemporary features, and up-to-date styling will want to look elsewhere.” 

The Frontier arguably has the least powerful, six-cylinder or four-cylinder engines on the market and it’s in desperate need of updating. While most trucks of today an eight-speed, automatic transmission, the Frontier is only paired to a five-speed. The pairing of the transmission and engine results in lazy shifting, a bouncy ride, and too much dipping of the front end under hard braking. While the ride was generally comfortable for Car and Driver experts, handling and feedback seemed loose. The 2019 Nissan Frontier also has the longest braking time in its class.

When compared to its competitors’ fuel economy ratings, the Nissan Frontier falls to the bottom of the list. Real-world testing found the Frontier’s overall rating to be a cool 20 mpg. And its interior doesn’t hold up too well among the competition either. The design of the interior is outdated, provides limited space for passengers, and lacks in the modern features offered by its rivals. Even its crash-test ratings are average, but that’s no surprise considering the Nissan Frontier comes with none of the available driver-assistance safety tech offered in other pickups.

Did other experts have the same to say?

The people at Consumer Reports have not given its full report on the 2019 Nissan Frontier, but have provided it with an average predicted reliability score of three out of five and a sub-par predicted owner satisfaction score of two out of five. This may have something to do with its “dated design that lacks polish.” Its low consumer satisfaction rating is due in part to Consumer Reports’ survey of current owners, where only around half said they would definitely make the same purchase again.

U.S. News also ranks it at the bottom of its compact truck list, receiving a cool 6.9 overall score (out of 10). And when the scores are broken down, U.S. News rates the 2019 Frontier the lowest in the interior category. When U.S. News compared the Frontier’s performance and features to every other truck in its segment, the Frontier lost out.

Even The Car Connection places the Nissan Frontier, as well as its sibling Titan, at the very bottom of the entire truck segment, giving it an unimpressive score of 3.7 out of 10. It was given a score of three (out of 10) for fuel economy, a four (out of 10) for styling, comfort, and performance, a five (out of 10) for its features, and only a two (out of 10) for safety.

What the Nissan Frontier got right

Though there are quite a few things the could stand to be upgraded in the Nissan Frontier, it still sells pretty well. It comes with an affordable price tag, ranging from $20,035-$35,055, and a durable interior, albeit an outdated one. It can tow with the best of them and it’s overall a comfortable ride. It also comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, where other automakers fall behind on standard tech.

Upper trims also offer some updated options, like a cargo-box channel system, adjustable tie-downs, rear parking sensors, and a sliding bed extender. And though the automatic gearbox may be outdated, Nissan is one of the few automakers to still offer a truck available with a manual transmission.