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2024 Nissan Frontier Review: The driver's choice in an array of configurations

Filed under: Nissan,Truck Continue reading 2024 Nissan Frontier Review: The driver's choice in an array of configurations 2024 Nissan Frontier Review: The driver's choice in an array of configurations originally appear

  • Jun 13 2024
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2024 Nissan Frontier Review: The driver's choice in an array of configurations
2024 Nissan Frontier Review: The driver's choice in an array of configurations

Pros: Refined V6; excellent steering and handling; two cab sizes; long bed available with crew cab; small maneuverable size

Cons: Lack of powertrain options; small interior; mediocre fuel economy

The midsize pickup truck segment is seeing an influx of completely new models employing turbocharging and simplified cab configurations. By contrast, the 2024 Nissan Frontier is sticking with a decidedly old-school approach, and while it might not be the perfect truck answer for everyone, it might be for a select few. Not only is it old-school in its powertrain, cab/bed offerings and some of its features, but the truck itself is really a heavily revised version of its rather long-lived predecessor. But as we mentioned, that’s not entirely a bad thing.

In many ways, the Nissan Frontier is the driver’s choice for a midsize pickup truck (well, at least on-road). The handling is quite good for a pickup, and it’s bolstered by surprisingly good steering feel that puts some cars to shame. It’s also comfortable, and its smooth naturally aspirated, 310-horsepower V6 provides some added refinement that the turbo four-cylinder engines of competitors can’t quite match. It’s the standard engine, too, which sweetens the deal of the base models. Additionally, the Frontier offers a variety of configurations not available on several rivals, including an extended cab and the option of pairing a long bed with the crew cab. The Toyota Tacoma is the only other midsize truck to still offer those.

With that said, the Frontier doesn’t offer high-performance off-road variants like those from Toyota, Ford, Chevy and Jeep, nor does it have higher-performance engine options like Toyota and Ford. Nor is there a more luxurious variant to match the GMC Canyon Denali. The V6’s fuel economy lags behind the turbo four-cylinders, too, albeit not by a huge amount.

Whether the Frontier is right for you depends on your priorities. If you really value driving experience, small size and being able to get a specific body type, you can’t go wrong. But if you’re looking for fuel economy, off-road performance or prefer something a bit bigger, you may want to consider the competition.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2024?

The Nissan Frontier gets a couple new trim and package additions. The SL trim has been added as the range topper with most features included as standard, including heated leather seats and wheel, a 10-speaker sound system and a sunroof. There’s also the new Hardbody Edition package (pictured below) for the SV trim. This one comes with a bunch of exterior additions such as vintage graphics, a style bar and, most notably, special 17-inch alloy wheels that look just like the distinctive ones from the old Nissan Hardbody pickup truck.

What are the Frontier’s interior and in-car technology like?

This is one of the areas where the Nissan Frontier shines. It has a chunky, squared-off dashboard to match its rugged exterior, and the plastics are impressively high-quality and tight fitting. The Pro-X and Pro-4X models also offer the option of vibrant red stitching, embroidered logos and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter (pictured in the smaller photos above). On top of all that, all Frontiers come with highly comfortable seats that offer plenty of support. Visibility is superb, too, with tall windows and low sills.

All Frontiers also get at least an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, with a 9-inch unit on higher trims (pictured). They all use the same interface, which has minimal menus and large icons that make it easy to navigate, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Both screens are bright, clear and responsive. We're also very pleased that climate and stereo functions are easy to use with traditional buttons and knobs. Four USB ports are standard, with two each in the front and rear cabins.

How big is the Frontier?

On the outside, the Frontier is the smallest truck in the midsize segment. Lengthwise, it has the shortest wheelbase and overall length (even when comparing crew cab/long bed configurations), and it's the narrowest. Its overall height is in the middle compared with other midsize trucks.

Speaking of cab and bed options, the Frontier can be had in either an extended cab (King Cab) or a full four-door crew cab. The King Cab comes only with the longer bed option (72.7 inches), but the crew cab can have either the short (59.5 inches) or long bed choices. The combination of crew cab and long bed is a feature only shared with the Toyota Tacoma. We take a deep dive into the Frontier bed in this driveway test.

Inside, the Frontier is on the smaller side of the spectrum, which is understandable considering its smaller exterior dimensions. By the numbers, it's an inch or two smaller than most, though head room and shoulder room are pretty solid. Legroom is really where things are on the tight side. The front occupants should feel fairly comfortable, but if you're on the tall side, you may find insufficient seat travel. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel is likely the bigger deal, regardless of your height. Adults can fit in the rear seats of the crew cab and be comfortable for short jaunts, but the lack of leg room will make them uncomfortable on long trips. The upright seat back doesn't help, either. Pretty much every other truck in the segment offers more generous rear accommodations. The extended King Cab, meanwhile, operates on a more even playing field with its competitors because you're just dealing with varying degrees of severely cramped. The Frontier King Cab's rear seats are only suitable for some pets or friends who are really small (or really need to get somewhere). It’s a rare thing, now, too, as only the Tacoma still offers an extended cab model, and that one doesn’t have rear seats at all.

What are the Frontier’s fuel economy and performance specs?

The Frontier offers only one powertrain: a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Output is 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, which is strong, but isn’t quite the class-leader it once was. It’s tied in power with the high-output Colorado and Canyon, and behind the hybrid engines in the Tacoma, and the turbo V6 in the Ford Ranger Raptor. Torque now falls behind nearly every turbo engine in the segment, including some standard ones. As usual, there's a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, and both come standard with a limited-slip rear differential.

Unsurprisingly, the more frugal of the two options is the rear-drive Frontier. It gets 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Four-wheel drive brings the numbers down to 18/23/20. The Pro-4X drops a little farther to 18/22/19. That puts it on par with some key competitors such as the Honda Ridgeline and Jeep Gladiator, but a bit behind most versions of the Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado.

As for carrying stuff, the Frontier has towing and payload capacities at the back of the pack. Towing is the worst in segment at 6,720 pounds maximum (unless you consider the Ridgeline a competitor, in which case that’s worse). Payload is second worst at 1,610 pounds (Chevy Colorado is lower).

What's the Frontier like to drive?

This is the other highlight for the Frontier. The V6 offers solid acceleration, but what's really impressive is how smooth it is. Even though it revs a bit high to deliver the power, it never sounds strained, and what sound you hear is at low volume. The nine-speed transmission is also seamless when not working hard, though it becomes a bit sluggish and with rougher shifts if you push it.

It's only slightly disappointing since the Frontier is a surprisingly good handler. The steering is an old-school hydraulic assist system that delivers the sort of feedback that's generally vanished from most modern vehicles of all segments (on the other hand, it's a lot heavier at slower speeds and can be a bit vague when driving in a straight line). It’s handy off-road, too, giving a good idea of what the surface and traction situation is under the front tires. With that said, it’s also rather heavy, so you’ll be working those arms harder than most other trucks. It’s far from a deal breaker, though. Body roll is mild and the truck feels stable, even a bit fun in corners, at least relative to other trucks. The ride is also smooth, even on rough dirt roads.

The small size of the Frontier is another big benefit everywhere, as it makes it very easy to maneuver; whether you’re getting into parking spots or sneaking between trees.

What other Nissan Frontier reviews can I read?

2022 Nissan Frontier First Drive Review | Return from the wilderness

Our first time behind the wheel of the thoroughly redesigned Frontier, and we're pleased with the results

2022 Nissan Frontier Interior and Bed Review | Excellent, given the context

As the title says, we take a deep dive in to the Frontier interior (specifically, the PRO-4X) and the short bed included with the crew cab. 

What is the 2024 Frontier’s price?

The Frontier, since it has only the V6 engine option, starts a bit higher than the competition at $31,265. That's for the base, two-wheel-drive, King Cab S model. Despite the bare-bones look and trim, it's reasonably well-equipped. It of course has the peppy engine, but it also has a limited-slip differential and modern convenience features including remote locking with push-button start, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The King Cab is only available on S and SV, and opting for the Crew Cab will add $1,300 for the S, $1,400 for the SV with a 5-foot bed, and $4,230 for the SV Crew Cab with 6-foot bed. Four-wheel drive adds $3,200 for the S and SV King Cab and $3,000 for the Crew Cab versions.

Two new trims and packages for the 2024 model year include the Hardbody Edition and the SL trim. The Hardbody Edition is a package that includes three-spoke wheels that are near replicas of alloys available on the Nissan Hardbody pickup of the 1980s and ‘90s. It also adds vintage-style graphics, black trim, a rear style bar, rocker rails, fender flares, a front skid plate, plus all-terrain tires. It costs an extra $3,890 when added to a four-wheel-drive Frontier SV.

As for the SL, it’s the range-topper that includes most features that are optional on other trims. Among them are LED headlights, heated leather seats and steering wheel, sunroof, 10-speaker sound system, remote start, 400-watt power outlets, spray-in bedliner, bed lighting and bed tracks.

Continuing from past years are the off-road-oriented Pro-X (RWD) and Pro-4X (4WD). They both get Bilstein shocks and matched springs, a rear anti-roll bar, 17-inch wheels, all-terrain tires, fender flares, LED fog lights, red tow hooks and embroidered seats with red stitching. They also get niceties including proximity key, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 9-inch infotainment system with navigation, power seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. The Pro-4X also adds aluminum and steel skid plates, a locking rear differential and hill descent control

You can find the starting prices for all the trim levels below, as well as a full breakdown of the 2024 Frontier's features, specs and local pricing here on Autoblog.

  • S: $31,265
  • SV: $33,965
  • Pro-X: $37,795
  • Pro-4X: $40,795
  • SL: $41,135

What are the Frontier’s safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The 2024 Nissan Frontier has been partially crash tested by the IIHS. It received top “Good” ratings for both the original and updated moderate overlap frontal crash tests, as well as “Acceptable” for the updated side crash test. The pedestrian crash prevention system is rated “Acceptable” as are the LED headlights, but the halogen units that are standard are rated “Poor.”

NHTSA has also tested the Frontier, and it gave the truck a four-star overall safety rating. It got four stars for frontal crash performance, five for side, and three for rollover.

Among the standard safety features are automatic headlights, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and driver inattention monitor. Available as options or in other trim levels are rear automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear-cross traffic warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, 360-degree cameras, parking sensors and traffic sign-recognition.

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