The 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Review: Modern Style, Old-School Charm
Nissan's midsize pickup leaves the Dane Cook era behind...mostly.
We're now well into the 2020s, and car manufacturers are finally updating some of their oldest and most outdated vehicles. Toyota just launched an all-new Tundra, and has a Sequoia replacement debuting soon; Lexus unveiled an updated LX 600 with newfangled features like Apple CarPlay; and Nissan has finally overhauled the second-generation Frontier pickup. Fun fact: the outgoing Frontier entered production back in October 2004, when the Boston Red Sox were still cursed.
Nissan loaned me the top-of-the-line, off-road-read Pro-4X Frontier to explore the wilds of suburban Southeastern Michigan over New Year's week. And I can confirm that, despite the changes, the Frontier is still the same honest, capable, relatively affordable truck that came before. Almost literally.
The Frontier is Nissan’s body-on-frame midsize pickup truck. It’s smaller and cheaper than Nissan’s full-size Titan — and outsells it by a wide margin.
Nissan's new Frontier is here, whether you were seeking it or not. It's officially an all-new third generation, but calling it "all-new" may be a bit of a stretch.
Sure, Nissan modernized the superficial components to make occupying the Frontier feel less like you traveled back in time and one of your flared jeans-wearing buddies is going to pop in a Dane Cook CD. But the Frontier carries over the same platform as the previous model — which, again, is ancient.
And that new 3.8-liter V6 is not technically new. Nissan trotted that engine out as a late second-generation facelift back in 2020.
The Frontier's appeal has long been, well, not being overly special. For decades, it has been a dependable, reasonably capable, affordable, and not fussy pickup. It's still that. But for 2022, it looks cooler, with boxy good looks cribbed from
the refreshed Titan and a modernized interior.
Throw in a better powertrain and transmission than the Toyota Tacoma and you've got a competitive truck — if not a revolutionary one.
The Frontier is very much a traditional truck. But given that constraint, it drives pretty well. Nissan rushed out that new engine and transmission before the new model was ready — because it's game-changing. You get substantial power, compared with the anemic old motor, and the nine-speed automatic operates imperceptibly — whereas, in an automatic Tacoma, the transition clunks are the most notable part of the drive.
The Frontier's on-road ride feels composed, if not overly polished. It cruised smoothly down the highway during a family trip to downtown Detroit without undue road noise. It was the perfect size for maneuvering on tight side streets that would have been iffy in a full-size rig. I didn't get the chance to thoroughly test the Pro-4X's Bilstein shocks, skid plates and locking rear differential. But I did plow assuredly through two significant snow events in 4-Hi.
My only real complaint was the steering, which felt a touch or three too heavy. And that naturally aspirated V6 is thirsty; the fuel economy is still below 20 mpg combined.
The third-gen Frontier brings the interior up to code for a modern midsize truck. The steering wheel looks about two decades newer than the old one, while the center console receives a larger touchscreen and a cleaner layout. Multiple family members also commented on the optional Pro-4X leather seats.
There are some disappointments when you dive in. The steering wheel doesn't telescope, which left me with sub-optimal arm extension for the week. And godspeed to the Pro-4X buyer who spends $40,000-plus and gets to explain to their partner why only the driver seat has power adjustment.
The back seats are quite vertical and not overly comfortable; I wouldn't want to sit back there for a long drive. The climate control system can also get loud, which I found out trying to take a work call while defrosting my windshield.
Starting MSRP for the new Frontier is now $28,840, after ditching the cost-saving four-cylinder version and the manual transmission. The PRO-4X trim starts at $37,240; my tester came out to $46,570 with the destination charge included.
Much of the added expenditure was essential, in my opinion. The Pro Premium Package ($2,790), Pro Convenience Package ($1,990) and Technology Package ($990) added necessary features. For some savings, I would skip the silly-looking Sport Bars ($1,095) and the Off-Road-Style Step Rails, which will be glorified mud and snow collectors.
The Frontier's main rival is the ever-popular Toyota Tacoma ($26,700). Other midsize truck options include the Jeep Gladiator ($34,645), Ford Ranger ($25,070) and Chevy Colorado ($25,200). Those willing to try a unibody pickup could opt for the Honda Ridgeline ($37,640), however. And those looking for just a basic, affordable truck can check out the new compact Ford Maverick ($19,995).
Powertrain: 3.8-liter V6, nine-speed automatic, 4x4
Torque: 281 lb-ft
Ground Clearance: 9.4 inches
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
What we know so far about the most-eagerly-awaited midsize truck.