The Nissan Frontier is a midsize pickup truck that offers notably good power, the capability to tow a fairly good-sized trailer, and a variety of trim levels and features that should appeal to a wide range of buyers. There are two engine choices: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder of 152 horsepower that is EPA-rated at 19 mpg City, 23 mpg Highway with the manual transmission, and a quite strong 4.0-liter V6 of 261 horsepower that, with two-wheel drive, is rated at 20 mpg on the Highway.
The Frontier is available in two body styles – a King Cab with rearward-opening rear doors and flip-up rear seats, and a Crew Cab with a conventional four-door layout. Depending upon trim level, the Crew Cab is available with a short or a long cargo bed; all King Cab versions have the longer of the two cargo-bed sizes. The Frontier is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive, has a maximum towing capacity of 6,500 pounds and a maximum payload of slightly over 1,500 pounds.
The Frontier is a stylish truck, yet clearly a truck meant for work, and in a tidy size. In front is a distinctive grille and over the tires are pronounced fender flares that give it a certain robust appeal. Inside is a continuation of the purposeful look, with all the controls in places that make them easy to reach and operate. Interior storage space is enhanced with a dual-level glove-box arrangement on the passenger's side.
We found the interior comfortable and well arranged, with good rugged standard fabric upholstery. The King Cab's wide-opening auxiliary doors give access to the two small folding seats, while the four-door Crew Cab has a three-person bench in the rear (three, that is, depending upon the sizes of the persons) that offers decent comfort but limited legroom – remember, though, this is a midsize pickup.
The ride is good with all models, and we drove them all, including the PRO-4X Crew Cab with off-road shock absorbers and rugged trail tires. The handling is tight and fairly nimble. On gravel roads, we found the 4WD works well and enhances traction and control.
For 2010 the changes are focused on standard safety and security features. Side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Nissan's electronic stability control that can help reduce skids on slippery surfaces, is standard on all Frontiers with the V6 engine. Other changes include the availability of a five-speed automatic transmission on XE models, the addition of two-wheel or four-wheel Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) as standard for all SE and LE trim-level V6 models, and the addition of Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control as standard on all SE and LE models with four-wheel drive and the automatic transmission. Finally, there is a new color, Night Armor.