The first new Nissan Frontier in 16 years still rides on the outgoing model's frame but gains all-new bodywork and a vastly improved interior.
Powering the 2022 Nissan Frontier is a 310-hp 3.8-liter V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The 2022 Nissan Frontier will go on sale this summer and will likely start in the low $30,000s.
After languishing in the marketplace for the better part of two decades, the Nissan Frontier compact pickup finally receives an overhaul for the 2022 model year. Although the third-generation truck is not entirely fresh—it still rides on a frame that dates back to the outgoing model's 2005 debut—the new Frontier enters the modern age with all-new bodywork, a significantly updated interior, and a greater helping of technology.
Nissan is still fuzzy on a number of details, including pricing, option packaging, and some final measurements. But we do know that the new Frontier will offer both extended King Cab and crew-cab layouts with either rear- or four-wheel drive, plus five- and six-foot cargo box lengths. Trim levels include base S, SV, and top-spec Pro-4X, as well as a new Pro-X trim that's essentially a Pro-4X minus four-wheel drive and some off-road hardware.
In terms of configurations, crew cabs can be had with either cargo box, depending on the model, while King Cabs get only the longer bed. Dimensionally, the new Frontier's wheelbases are about the same as before, spanning 126.0 inches for most models and 139.8 inches for long-box crew cabs. Overall lengths are up several inches to 210.2 and 224.1, while width increases a hair to 73.0 inches. Maximum height is down 1.5 inches to 72.3.
Despite some minor revisions over the years, the previous Frontier's fully boxed steel ladder-type frame carries over to the new truck. Suspension enhancements include revised spring and damper tuning, new urethane jounce bump stops, and the addition of a rear anti-roll bar to go with a stiffer front unit. New hydraulic body mounts are said to better isolate the truck's cab from the road. Pro-4X and Pro-X models add standard Bilstein off-road-oriented dampers, but only the former gets skid plates under its front end, transfer case, and fuel tank. The Pro-4X also features an electronically locking rear differential and an off-road driving mode. The new Frontier's vintage roots are most evident in its steering system, which features a quicker ratio than before, yet assistance is still by old-timey hydraulics rather than an electric motor. The optional part-time four-wheel-drive system also goes largely unchanged, bringing conventional 4HI and 4LO settings but no full-time all-wheel-drive mode.
We previewed the latest Frontier's sole powertrain—a 3.8-liter V-6 (310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque) mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission—in our most recent test of a 2020 crew-cab model. In that test, the new setup exhibited better refinement than that of the Frontier's old 261-hp 4.0-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic, but it failed to produce any measurable uptick in straight-line performance or fuel efficiency versus a 2017 Pro-4X model we evaluated. This was despite the 2020 version having 49 additional ponies under its hood and a 2-mpg-greater EPA combined estimate (to 19 mpg for crew-cab four-wheel-drive models). EPA ratings are not yet available for the 2022 Frontier, but Nissan says they should hew closely to those of the outgoing truck's, as should the new truck's curb weights.
We've only seen photos of the 2022 Frontier's crew-cab-only Pro-4X model, but it looks appropriately butch with chunky proportions, blistered fenders, and darkened trim. Nissan says the new trucks' design was inspired by its "Hardbody" compact pickups from the late 1980s and '90s. LED lights are standard at the rear and optional up front. Pro-4X and Pro-X models roll on 17-inch wheels fitted with 265/70R-17 all-terrain tires. Along with taller bedsides, the Frontier's cargo boxes gain improved functionality from a standard spray-in bedliner, a dampened tailgate, and more optional LED lighting. A revised cargo management system and an in-bed 110-volt power outlet also are available. Maximum payload capacity increases slightly to 1610 pounds, but max towing (6720 pounds) remains below the 7000-plus pounds that many new body-on-frame compact pickups can tug. Electronic trailer-sway control is now standard on all models.
If the latest Frontier's exterior design is a bold step forward, its new interior is a revelation. The overall design looks attractive and materials appear to be vastly improved over the previous model's Tupperware-grade trappings. All versions gain laminated front side windows and additional sound-deadening material, as well as Nissan's Zero Gravity front seats and larger storage cubbies throughout. The Pro-4X and Pro-X can be had with fetching red accents and contrast stitching. Drivers view a standard 7.0-inch information display flanked by analog gauges. An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen lives in the center stack but can be upgraded to a 9.0-inch unit, with both setups featuring standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, albeit of the wired variety.
Other optional cabin highlights include a heated steering wheel and front seats, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a nine-speaker Fender audio system, a wireless charging pad, and Nissan's latest 360-degree camera system with a front-facing off-road mode. Automatic forward collision warning is standard, with available active-safety aids encompassing forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear emergency braking, blind-spot and lane-departure warnings, a driver-attention monitor, and adaptive cruise control.
Nissan also plans to offer a range of NISMO accessories for its new Frontier, including off-road step rails with removable steps, an upgraded suspension kit, auxiliary lighting systems, and ladder racks and tents for the cargo bed. Pricing has yet to be revealed for those and the truck itself. The outgoing Frontier tempered its antiquity with value, with 2021 models starting at $29,065 and topping out at about $40K for a well-equipped Pro-4X. Given the updates and added content of the latest versions, a slight price increase will not be a surprise. We'll find out closer to when the 2022 Frontier goes on sale this summer.
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