The Nissan Frontier is far from the most advanced truck on sale, with a design that dates back to 2004 and cabin tech clearly laid out long before the iPhone existed. The company has tried in vain to keep the truck feeling fresh with minor updates, but for 2022 it's finally getting overhauled. Now, at long last we know what the new truck will look like.
The updated styling is chunkier, more aggressive, and far sharper overall. The PRO-4X off-road-focused model is particularly handsome, with big exposed tow hooks and sharp LED headlights that make the front end look far more modern than the dated fascia of the outgoing model.
The single powertrain is a 310-hp V-6 paired to a 9-speed automatic. That setup was introduced in the last-generation Frontier for the 2020 model year, a pilot for the full redesign. The engine is smooth and more potent than any gas-powered competitor, but the transmission programming in the 2020 model gave up some ground compared to the best automatics in the business. Maximum towing capacity is unchanged at 6720, placing the Frontier behind the Jeep Gladiator, Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon, and Toyota Tacoma in that regard.
But Nissan is selling the frontier as a city and weekend truck, noting that buyers appreciate the tidy dimensions of the trim-for-the-segment Frontier. So the Frontier works on making the most of its size, with a proprietary bed rail and cargo tie system meant to make load securing easy. The tailgate is now damped, regardless of whether you choose a five- or six-foot bed.
The Frontier also takes a huge leap in terms of technology. Out with the dated old cabin with its tiny display, in with a more modern cabin with an available nine-inch display and Apple CarPlay. You also get wireless charging and a 360-degree camera on higher-optioned models. Trailer sway control and forward collision warning boost the Frontier's safety cred, while available adaptive cruise control and standard "Zero-Gravity" seats should make it better as a road-trip truck.
Ditto the suspension and chassis design, which both received massive upgrades over the admittedly rudimentary and uncomfortable previous-generation truck. Nissan claims "best-level ride and handling" on smooth and off-road surfaces. A new rear stabilizer bar and larger front stabilizer bar reduce body roll, while hydraulic cab mounts are said to reduce vibrations by a staggering 80 percent. Steering is still hydraulic, but Nissan's retuned the rack-and-pinion system should provide better on-center feel.
The big question is pricing. Nissan hasn't announced it yet, but a considerably lower asking price than its rivals allowed the Frontier to hold ground long after it had become dated and uncompetitive. The new one is surely much more modern and refined, but the higher price that comes with that risks alienating some Frontier fans. Without a clear price advantage, it'll have to make massive leaps to catch up to its competition. We'll have to wait until we get pricing info and a chance to drive it closer to its official launch this summer.
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