2018 Nissan Frontier
Despite obsolete equipment and outdated styling, the Frontier still sells well. The geriatric mid-sizer has standard pickup-truck abilities (see towing, hauling, and off-roading), but it can’t match the features and finesse of modern rivals. Instead, its configurable cargo box and off-road-ready add-ons appeal to tradesmen and adventurers. An optional 261-hp V-6 and a sturdy chassis contribute to respectable driving dynamics. Still, the absence of desirable options and the harsh reality of a desolate interior are difficult to overlook. All in all, the Frontier is a great tool for the nine-to-five grind—but that’s about it.
What’s New for 2018?
The Frontier carries over into 2018 with minute changes. The base model adds more standard equipment such as air conditioning, a backup camera, cruise control, and a 5.0-inch non-touch color display with Bluetooth connectivity. Nissan’s Midnight Edition trim joins the Frontier lineup later in the year, adding black exterior pieces.
What was New for 2017?
Since its introduction in 2005 (yes, 12 years ago), the current-gen Frontier is largely the same. Apart from a glorified facelift for 2009 that also brought the off-road-oriented Pro-4X trim, it has received only minor updates. That continued for 2017, with a list of changes that included a new body-color rear bumper (previously chrome) and a Work Truck package. Both revisions applied to the entry-level S trim, with the option package adding a spray-in bedliner, bed-rail caps, splash guards, and rubber floor mats.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
The Frontier is outmatched by modern rivals on pretty much every level. However, it can be an affordable option for those who want a straightforward pickup truck and don’t care about fancy bells and whistles. For that, we like the mid-level SV trim with the optional V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission. It starts at $25,945 with the extended king cab and rear-wheel drive. We’d avoid the crew cab due to its limited legroom and $1130 premium. Four-wheel drive costs $2890 with this setup, but it’s a must for Midwest winters. We’d also add the SV Value Truck package for $1890. It includes:
• Dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats
• Trailer hitch, spray-in bedliner, and sliding bed extender
• Cargo-box-channel system and adjustable tie-downs
• Rear parking sensors
The SV trim also features standard bed-rail caps, remote keyless entry, and a three-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. In total, our Frontier SV King Cab 4×4 costs $30,725—a fair price for an obsolete albeit useful mid-size pickup.
The only thing that’s unique about the Frontier’s powertrains is that an antiquated five-speed gearbox is the lone automatic option. Its standard four-cylinder and available V-6 are unchanged and can be paired with a five- or six-speed manual, respectively.
While we haven’t tested a Frontier with the standard 152-hp 2.5-liter inline-four, shoppers should take its meager output and limited tow rating into consideration before they buy. The optional 4.0-liter V-6 isn’t as sophisticated as the competition, but it has decent performance. Making 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, the Frontier Pro-4X defeated the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro in our acceleration tests. Nissan’s six-cylinder didn’t disappoint in daily driving and provided plenty of pep for passing. Its antiquated five-speed automatic was a suitable partner that sorted gears admirably but without haste. Still, the V-6 groaned under hard acceleration, and turning the key during startup elicited an old-school whine from the starter.