Finally, after nearly 20 years, Nissan redesigned its midsize pickup. Long known as the price-leader in its segment, the Frontier gained popularity thanks to its capability and affordability. Unfortunately, years of stagnation left it trailing competitors from Toyota, General Motors, Ford, and Honda. Now, the 2022 Nissan Frontier arrives to make up for lost time. But will it be enough to get people to consider one? Let’s find out.
2022 Nissan Frontier: Fresh Sheet Metal, The Same Bones
The new Frontier no longer shares its bones with the global-market Navara. Instead of moving to a new platform, the latest iteration uses a heavily modified version of its predecessor’s underpinnings. That’s not a bad thing because it rides well by truck standard even in PRO-4X grade with all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, and a locking rear differential. With an empty bed, the rear bounces around a bit but thankfully not as much as older trucks. Slow, heavy steering amplifies the Frontier’s size while the softly sprung suspension results in noticeable dive during braking. Thankfully, it handles respectably, keeping it from feeling unruly.
The Frontier’s new look gives it an imposing presence. Unlike the global-market Navara’s soft curves and tidier (by midsize truck standards) dimensions, the new Frontier doubles down on boxiness. From the upright greenhouse to the new face, you get a fresh take on a familiar design.
We saw its new power source in the previous generation truck. This new 3.8-liter V6 makes 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque and puts its power down through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. You get lots of smooth usable power, meaning it won’t leave you wanting. Credit the transmission’s tightly space gears, too, because it’s snappy, responsive, and keeps you in the engine’s sweet spot. This also enables the Frontier to tow up to 6,720 pounds or haul 1,600 pounds of payload, perfect for work and/or play.
The downside of having that power and capability? Fuel economy. EPA-rated at 18/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined in RWD configuration or 17/22/19 mpg with 4WD, the Frontier consumes fuel at an alarming rate. At least both versions can travel 400 miles or more, provided you’re easy on the throttle.
Utilitarian and Useful
Available in access or crew cab configurations with either a short or long bed, the Frontier offers varying levels of practicality. The long bed, which is exclusive to the access cab, gives you additional space for longer items. Getting the crew cab, which is only available with the short bed, makes the truck more family-friendly with rear seats that can accommodate adults. The truck also gets a storage area under the rear seats along with a small bin under the center stack for your smartphone and wallet. One feature I wish the Frontier had is a telescopic steering wheel so you don’t need to sit so far forward.
In terms of build quality, the Nissan Frontier lands squarely mid-pack. Although you find lots of padded areas and soft plastics, hard bits also abound and the textures exude a utilitarian rather than premium vibe. The boxy shape also means a lot of wind noise on the highway while the knobby all-terrain tires create excessive tire roar. One last quibble: the front seats need more side support because you slide all over the place when turning.
Better Tech to a Degree
Every 2022 Frontier gets Nissan’s latest infotainment system with either an 8.0- or 9.0-inch touchscreen. Like in the Rogue and Pathfinder, this interface offers quick responses and a simple, logical menu layout that negates the learning curve. The Frontier gets a 7.0-inch instrument cluster display instead of a full digital cluster. Thankfully, it depicts useful information like fuel economy, the trip computer, and media clearly. You can also configure it to show as many or as few details as you like.
Unlike Nissan’s unibody vehicles, body-on-frame models like the Frontier use an older version of the Safety Shield 360 suite. Thankfully, the components don’t get intrusive and won’t jerk you back into your lane if you start to drift. Nissan tuned adaptive cruise control’s distancing component conservatively, meaning it leaves more space between you and the vehicle ahead even in the closest setting. That’s ideal considering this truck’s size and the type of tires it uses. However, I wish the Frontier got Nissan’s excellent ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous system, one of the best available
2022 Nissan Frontier: Improved for a Price
Although the 2022 Frontier won’t take the crown from class leaders like the Chevrolet Colorado and Honda Ridgeline, the improvements bring it back into the conversation. Better tech features, a good ride, and a sweet powertrain strengthen the entire package. These improvements, however, come at a price. With the four-cylinder model gone, the Frontier costs more starting at $29,985. A fully loaded PRO-4X example like this Tactical Green test vehicle checks in just below $46,000.
For that reason, the pick of the 2022 Nissan Frontier range is the SV trim crew cab. You get access to every feature available in an on-road-focused package. It’s likely quieter and more comfortable, too, since it doesn’t get the PRO-4X’s off-road-oriented tweaks.