We all know the Nissan Frontier is a great truck, but how is it in real-world terms? We put the Frontier up against some of its competitors and see what we think.
Things We Like
Nissan has come a long way with the look and feel of its interiors. The new Frontier’s cabin is much more refined than that of its predecessor, with better materials and great attention to detail. It also has some clever storage options (such as a pull-out compartment between the front seats), plenty of room for four people in comfort, plus ample cargo space behind the rear seat. The dashboard design isn’t particularly flashy, but it works well; there are buttons galore on both sides of the touchscreen-equipped center stack, but they don’t get in each other’s way or require excessive hunting to find what you want. Nissan even added an easy grab handle for rear passengers so they can brace themselves during cornering maneuvers—a simple touch I wish more automakers would adopt (and one that reflects how this truck is aimed at real-world buyers).
Ride and Handling
The steering feel is good, with a light effort at low speeds and better weighting than the old truck. The steering ratio has been quickened with this update, helping to make the truck feel nimbler in the turns.
Big Powertrain Improvements
The Ford Ranger is an excellent truck with a strong engine, solid build quality, and smooth handling. But the new Nissan Frontier has more power and lower fuel consumption than its big brother while offering similar utility thanks to innovative storage solutions (including in-bed audio speakers). The four-cylinder engine is gone, making the 310-horsepower 3.8 liters V6 introduced for 2020 the only engine in this next generation of trucks. And it’s a fine one – powerful and with plenty of torque for both off-roading and towing duties. Paired with a new 9-speed automatic transmission that makes light work of even tough grades, this powertrain is smooth, refined, and puts out more grunt than most competitors’ base engines including those from Dodge Ram or Toyota Tacoma. If you want your pickup to tow like a champ but also want something you can conquer winding roads without sweating too much over mileage figures then there’s really no competition here: The Frontier simply offers better horsepower at lower fuel consumption when
The 2022 Frontier has a four-wheel-drive system that can be engaged on dry pavement. It’s a simple dial job, but the Frontier does all of this without relying entirely on electronics and instead gets by with buttons to engage the electronic locking rear differential and hill descent control. The 4WD system is also part-time, so don’t expect it to help on steep inclines or in deep mud. All Frontiers have three steel skid plates – one for each transfer case half and another covering the oil pan – while Pro-4X pickups get an additional aluminum plate protecting their fuel tank.
Added Safety Features
Some cars boast an array of driver-assist technologies, but they can be expensive. Nissan takes a different tack with the all-new Frontier by offering them as optional equipment on every trim level. The Safety Shield 360 suite is available for $1,295, including blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alerts; automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which has been offered in other markets for several years; and lane departure warning coupled with active lane control. It’s possible to equip a Frontier S King Cab SV with that entire package — or at least most of it — for just over $25,000 before any discounts are applied.
Things We Don’t Like
Cramped Rear Seat
Of course, the Ridgeline’s tight quarters don’t leave much room for cargo. With only 12 cubic feet of space behind its rear seats—far less than you’ll find in any other midsize pickup—the Ridgeline is best suited to a weekend or recreational activities (think camping and tailgating) rather than hauling loads of lumber or bags of mulch.
In fact, if you’re considering a mid-size pickup primarily as a work vehicle, it might make more sense to look at full-size pickups like the Ford F150 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500. While still smaller than their crew cab counterparts (and also available with four doors), these models offer significantly more space behind the second row: up to 45 cubic feet when configured with the standard 60/40 split rear seatbacks and center console.
Despite its limited storage capabilities, though, we can’t help but love the Ridgeline’s unusual take on how this body style should be executed; few vehicles are
The old-school hydraulic power steering does offer a better feel than an electric system, but it also takes more effort to turn the wheel. By any measure, this steering feels extremely heavy and will not receive features like lane centering or semi-autonomous driving anytime soon.
The 2022 Nissan Frontier’s EPA-estimated gas mileage is better than only a handful of compact pickups. The Toyota Tacoma edges out the Ford Ranger in terms of mileage. Its regular-cab models get 19/24/21 mpg with 2WD and 18/22/20 mpg with 4WD. The V-6 version, rated at 15 mpg city, 21 highway, and 17 combined, is also slightly better than the V-8 model’s 11 cities, 16 highway, and 13 combined (that has a lower rating for all uses).
Cars.com’s American-Made Index is based on the percentage of parts that come from the U.S., regardless of where the car is assembled. The index ranks cars built and bought in America, but it does not include electric vehicles or any large commercial trucks included in Cars.com’s truck rankings.
– In order to be considered for this list, a vehicle must have at least 75 percent domestic parts content, a common industry measure of how much of a vehicle comes from the United States or Canada. That means 25 percent —or one out of every four parts—can come from elsewhere before disqualifying it as an “American” car by our definition. Our index also factors in labor costs (which comprise about 10 percent) because location matters: A final product that was 100 percent made in Mexico would rank higher than one with 90 percent U.S.-made content if it were more expensive to produce here due to better worker benefits and pay, for example. To calculate these percentages and more, check out our methodology.