- One of the most affordable trucks on the market.
- Flexible storage spaces.
- Smaller size makes it more manageable to drive for some.
- Feels old to drive.
- Interior lacks some expected features.
- Limited options list for engines and body styles.
Would we buy one? Not yet. Wait for the next generation.
Vehicle Type: A midsize pickup truck.
Price Range: From $19,985 to $34,335, including a $995 destination charge.
Powertrain: A 4.0-liter V6 makes 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, with a six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic as an option.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel-drive is an option on some models,
Trim Levels: S, SV, DR, SL, and Pro-4x.
Competitors: Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma.
Overall Score: 6.7/10
Safety Features: 5/10
The Frontier is aging on many fronts, but it most shows its age in safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2019 Frontier Marginal for both driver-side and passenger-side small overlap front crashworthiness and Good in all other areas except for head restraints and seats, earning an Acceptable score. The headlights were rated Poor, and the LATCH system ease of use was rated Marginal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rated the 2019 Frontier four stars overall, including three stars for front crash protection, five stars for side crash protection, and three stars for rollover resistance. There's no ability to add features like blind-spot monitoring, unlike its rivals. Pickups don't traditionally perform the best in every assessment, but the Frontier is especially behind the times.
A rearview camera comes standard, now that it's mandatory by law. Rear parking sensors are optional.
The Frontier won't be top of mind for people wanting a luxurious, feature-rich truck, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its charms. Buyers can spend well into the mid-$30,000 range, but versions are also available with an MSRP of around $20,000. Competitors like the Toyota Tacoma are available with more tech but can cost well into the $40,000s.
There's no real reason to max out with this truck. The mid-range Nissan Frontier SV is a comfortable pickup with plenty of capability that will land with pricing somewhere close to $30,000 after the Value package is added, bringing dual-zone climate controls, heated front seats, and a spray-in bed liner, and more. If we were shopping for a Frontier, it'd be the S or SV trims that make our list.
Tech Features: 6/10
An AM/FM audio system with six speakers, a radio data system, MP3 capabilities, an auxiliary-in jack, Bluetooth, a 7.0-inch color display, and Siri Eyes Free is standard. Available equipment includes a navigation system, a power moonroof, keyless entry, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted controls, a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM radio, and a 10-speaker AM/FM stereo from Rockford Fosgate.
Infotainment is another spot where the Frontier shows its age. The new 7-inch screen is standard, but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, even as options. Rivals such as the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon even come with a 4G LTE wifi hotspot.
The Frontier manages to pull off its truck duties with more refinement and ease than some of its competition. Thoughtful features like cargo tie-downs in the bed and peace-of-mind features like a long warranty make the Frontier appealing to people who don't need a huge truck.
Though it's not as configurable as some of its midsize counterparts, the Frontier's V6 engine and comfortable suspension make it a winner for people who want and need to use their trucks as a daily driver. It's also great for off-road use, where a softer than standard suspension setup makes for better poise and comfort in the dirt.
The Frontier has a towing capacity of up to 6,640 pounds and a decent payload rating. While the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon can do better, the Ford Ranger cannot. And the Nissan is cheaper than all of them.
Styling & Design: 7/10
Despite its age, there's nothing particularly wrong with the Frontier's styling. It looks, well, like a truck. While that might not be ideal if having the newest thing is essential, it's functional.
The Nissan's interior is set up for business. The cabin is well built and rugged, with materials that reflect the truck's no-nonsense attitude. It can be upgraded with leather seats and other touches, but there's a limit to how much can be done to modernize an old-timer's insides. Competitors like the Honda Ridgeline are much more appealing to new car buyers, despite lacking features like a long bed and heavy-duty off-road suspension setups like the Frontier.
One benefit of the design is excellent outward visibility. The Frontier's windows and glass are large, and the driving position is commanding, which creates good viewing angles in nearly all directions. The same is true, no matter the body style.
Driving Experience: 7/10
The Frontier's drivetrain looks weak on paper compared to some of its competition, but it's not all bad in practice. The 4.0-liter V6 is behind the Nissan's more modern rivals on power, and the five-speed automatic transmission lacks a few gears, but the Frontier is mostly a comfortable, lively truck. It doesn't feel slow, though the drivetrain lacks refinement and makes a rough sound under heavy acceleration.
The suspension works well to absorb the worst bumps and bangs, but the tradeoff for some of that comfort here is precision. The Frontier's steering and handling doesn't feel as tight, allowing more than a little body roll in the curves -- even for a truck. That works out well off-road, where the optional locking rear differential and larger tires on models like the Pro-4x make a big difference.
Fuel Efficiency: 6/10
With 2WD and manual transmission, the Frontier is rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, and 19 mpg combined. Four-wheel-drive changes those numbers to 16 city, 21 highway, and 18 mpg combined.
With 2WD and automatic transmission, the Frontier is EPA-estimated to return gas mileage of 16 city, 23 highway, 19 mpg combined. With four-wheel-drive, those numbers change to 15/21/17 mpg.
Indeed, pickup trucks don't do the best on fuel economy, but the Frontier's numbers are closer to what we'd expect from a full-size truck.