With looks inspired by the original Nissan Hardbody compact pickup from the 1980s, the boxy Nissan Frontier is the best it’s been in a long time. Although the Frontier is newer than the mid-size pickups it’s squaring off against, such as the Ford Ranger and the Honda Ridgeline, it has a more old-school-truck look and feel. Every Frontier uses a 310-hp V-6 engine bolted to a nine-speed automatic transmission with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The Frontier can be had as an extended King Cab or in four-door crew-cab style; bed length choices are a standard 5.0- or 6.0-foot-long bed. From a power-potent base Frontier S work truck to a gravel-flinging Pro-4X off-roader with Bilstein dampers and skid plates, Nissan’s mid-size pickup remains a decent value. Although it won’t tow as much as the Toyota Tacoma, the Frontier’s thick selection of standard safety features and LED lighting give it some competitive edge in the modern truck marketplace.
What’s New for 2023?
The Frontier entered its third generation last year, so Nissan has made only subtle equipment changes for 2023. A Midnight Edition appearance package is now available, but only on the crew cab SV trim. The package includes 17-inch black wheels, black exterior mirrors, and other darkened accents inside and out. The SV Crew Cab with the long bed now gets the previously optional SV Convenience package as standard. This package adds a heated leather steering wheel, heated front seats, a spray-in bed liner, and under-rail bed lighting. Wireless Apple CarPlay becomes standard on Pro-X and Pro-4X trims, and Lava Red contrast stitching is now included in the Pro Premium package.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the SV trim level has the best mix of standard features and value. Our ideal version starts with the crew cab—the larger of the two available cab sizes—and four-wheel drive. An 8.0-inch touchscreen (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat are standard, but we’d upgrade our truck with the Convenience and Technology packages. Together they add adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear automated emergency braking, heated front seats and steering wheel, a trailer hitch, lights in the cargo bed, and a spray-in bed liner.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Frontier inherits Nissan’s new naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V-6, which made its debut on the last-generation 2020 model. The engine generates 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a nine-speed automatic transmission and rear- or four-wheel drive. Our first driving impressions revealed that the Frontier’s V-6 provides adequate thrust and smooth operation. We drove the off-road-oriented Pro-4X model that’s ready and willing to tackle rugged terrain, even if it’s not as capable as the Jeep Gladiator. We also appreciated the Nissan’s new quicker and more direct steering and the many other chassis enhancements that have helped the truck feel more composed and refined on the go.
More on the Frontier Pickup Truck
Towing and Payload Capacity
The Frontier’s towing capacity maxes out at 6720 pounds, so it falls short of rivals such as the Chevy Colorado, the GMC Canyon, and the Jeep Gladiator, all of which can pull at least 7650 pounds. The Nissan’s maximum payload is 1610 pounds.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The rear-drive Frontier is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. With four-wheel drive, those figures drop to 17 mpg city and 22 highway. During our 75-mph highway route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, a 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X managed 20 mpg. For more information about the Frontier’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Thankfully, the 2023 Frontier delivers an interior design and materials that look like a big improvement over the outdated and plastic-laden cabin that plagued its predecessor. Not only did Nissan add snazzier trim pieces and soft-touch surfaces that were much needed, but the company also introduced more contemporary features. The gauge cluster now offsets its analog gauges with a larger 7.0-inch color display. A heated steering wheel and heated front seats are also available. Speaking of seats, the Frontier continues to comfort our backsides with Nissan’s supple Zero Gravity thrones. Interior cubby storage includes a bin on top of the dashboard and a place to store items under the back seat. The truck offers two wheelbase lengths that provide a short and long cargo bed, with the former measuring just under five feet and the latter extending just over six feet.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
The new Frontier’s infotainment system operates through a standard 8.0-inch or optional 9.0-inch touchscreen. A pair of physical knobs for adjusting the stereo’s volume and tuning settings are present and located below the screen. The most desirable standard connectivity features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and several charging outlets, including a USB-C port. The Frontier can also be had with a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless smartphone charging. The sound system can also be upgraded to a nine-speaker Fender unit for an additional cost.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Frontier offers an assortment of driver-assistance technology as part of the Nissan Safety Shield 360 system. Automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection is standard, but everything else is optional. For more information about the Frontier’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Other key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Available lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Nissan offers competitive limited and powertrain warranties compared with other mid-size pickup trucks. However, almost every competitor—apart from the Honda Ridgeline—also includes some type of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
Base/As Tested: $38,415/$44,735
Options: premium package (sunroof, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Fender audio system, upgraded interior trim), $2790; comfort and convenience package (bed lighting, remote engine start, 120-volt power outlets in cab and bed, heated front seats, spray-in bedliner, trailer hitch), $1990; technology package (rear park alert, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control), $990; Tactical Green paint, $395; floor mats, $155
DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 232 in3, 3799 cm3
Power: 310 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 281 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Suspension, F/R: control arms/live axle
Brakes, F/R: 11.7-in vented disc/11.3-in vented disc
Tires: Hankook Dynapro AT2
265/70R-17 115S M+S
Wheelbase: 126.0 in
Length: 210.2 in
Width: 74.7 in
Height: 72.9 in
Passenger Volume: 100 ft3
Curb Weight: 4772 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.3 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.6 sec @ 90 mph
100 mph: 20.6 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.5 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.3 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.2 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 113 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 183 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.76 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 17 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 20 mpg
Highway Range: 420 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 19/17/22 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs