By Eric Peters
Want the good news first?
The just-redesigned Nissan Frontier pick-up not only still comes with a V6 — it’s standard. Some of the others in this class – such as the Chevy Colorado — come standard with a four. One of the others in this class — the Ford Ranger – comes only with a four.
Ready for the bad?
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There’s no option to buy a less expensive four, which the previous Frontier used to come standard with — along with a much lower base price.
And — just like almost all the other trucks in this class – there’s no longer an option to shift for yourself.
What It Is
The Frontier is Nissan’s mid-sized pick-up truck. It competes with the other mid-sized trucks in the class, including the Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma and the GM twins, the Chevy Colorado and its GMC-badged brother, the Canyon.
Prices start at $27,840 for a base S trim King Cab with 2WD with a six-foot bed. Adding 4WD bumps the sticker price to $31,040.
Crew cabs — with four doors — start at $29,340 for the base trim with 2WD, and you can choose either a six-foot or a five-foot bed. Adding 4WD bumps the sticker price to $32,340.
The range tops out at $37,240 for a PRO-4X trim (crew cab only) with 4WD. This one comes with more ground clearance than the other trims (9.8 inches versus 8.9 inches), Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential, all-terrain tires and underbody skid plates.
The ’22 Frontier has been redesigned from the treads up.
Powerful V6 is standard — and the most powerful V6 in the class.
Near full-sized towing capacity (6,720 lbs.)
Accessible bed versus current full-sized trucks.
What’s Not So Good
No basic Work Truck version offered.
Almost as big as a full-sized truck used to be.
No more option to change gears yourself.
Under The Hood
Nissan bucks the trend toward ever-smaller engines in ever-larger vehicles, including trucks. Including some of the Frontier’s four-cylinder-only competition, such as the Ford Ranger. The Frontier comes standard with a V6 — an engine that used to be the Frontier’s optional engine — and which was available with either a manual six-speed transmission or (optionally) a five speed automatic transmission.
The standard Frontier engine was a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, which was also available with either the manual or the automatic transmission.
The new Frontier comes only with a 3.8 liter V6 — paired only with a nine speed automatic, in keeping with the trend toward automatic-only everything. Including trucks.
On the upside, there is more standard power — 310 horses, most in the class — and capability. The current Frontier can pull more than 6,700 pounds or almost twice what the old four cylinder-powered Frontier could pull. It is also much quicker, as it comes.
On The Road
Who mourns for the lost third pedal?
Truck people used to like to shift for themselves. Especially thrifty truck buyers, who figured it made more sense to pay less for a truck equipped with a manual that maybe didn’t rate the same gas mileage numbers as one with an automatic — but which made up for that by saving them (usually) about $800-$1,000 to buy versus the same truck with what was formerly the optional automatic.
On the upside, Nissan has programmed the nine-speed automatic to shift pretty seamlessly, so much so that it is hard to know — without looking at the digital display — which gear the transmission is in.
And if you do tow — or rock crawl — the automatic offers advantages.
At The Curb
There aren’t any small trucks available today. What you can buy is a truck like the Frontier and the others in the class that are as manageable as full-sized trucks used to be, especially as regards loading and unloading them. Current full-size trucks are so jacked up — and have bed walls so high — that it is difficult to load/unload them, without a forklift.
The Frontier’s bed is much more accessible. The downside is that it’s small- relative to the size of the Frontier, itself. The current nearly full-sized Frontier’s bed is only slightly bigger — slightly wider — than a compact pick-up’s bed.
On the upside, the inside is almost as roomy as full-sized trucks’ insides used to be.
All Frontiers come with some useful — if not obviously visible – built-in features such as the underseat storage in back and multiple 12V as well as four USB power points, so whatever you’ve got that needs power can be plugged in.
Also standard — even in the base S trim — are four wheel disc brakes a limited slip rear axle.
So is the new truck’s higher starting price, which is about $2k higher than the starting price of the previously available four cylinder-powered Work Truck version of this truck.
The Bottom Line
It’s more truck, in every way — including what it’ll cost you.
Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!” will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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