By Derek Price
It’s been uncomfortably close to two decades since the Nissan Frontier got a complete redesign, but the wait is over.
For the first time since 2005, Nissan’s midsize truck can legitimately be called “all new” with a totally fresh look and feel for 2022.
It’s more mature than the outgoing truck, with a refined driving feel, easily accessible technology and the kind of rugged, upright, aggressive look that today’s truck buyers crave.
It seems to be suffering from some growing pains, though, if my test truck is representational. More on that later.
From a design standpoint, everything about the fresh Frontier is exactly what I think a midsize truck needs to be: capable, efficient, handsome and — most importantly of all — a comfortable size.
A lot of supposedly “midsize” trucks are pretty darn close to what used to be called full-size. They’re also priced close to the big trucks, leaving room at the bottom of the pickup food chain for new entries like the small, brilliant, affordable Ford Maverick.
The Frontier seems to split the difference. It’s bigger and a lot more powerful than the tiny Maverick, but it’s noticeably smaller and more nimble than the typical half-ton truck.
Nissan calls it “right sized,” and I agree after driving it for a week. It’s big enough to feel comfortable and brawny, yet it still easily whips around corners and into urban parking garages.
It also has the capability of a legit truck, starting with a stout powertrain.
A 3.8-liter V6 engine makes 310 horsepower, enough to topple the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado. It’s also capable of towing a respectable 6,720 pounds and carrying 1,610 pounds of payload.
The driving feel is not just a night-and-day difference compared to the old truck, but also quieter and smoother than most competitors. I was pleasantly surprised that my tester, equipped with the beefy PRO-4X off-road suspension, felt plush on a long road trip.
Technology on the Frontier is exactly what buyers are looking for. Even the base model includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and you can upgrade to a 9-inch touchscreen, WiFi hotspot and wireless phone charging for reasonable prices.
Now, about those growing pains.
When I was driving my Frontier tester on the highway, it suddenly jabbed the brakes without any warning and flashed “System Fault: See Owner’s Manual” on the dashboard. Other warnings lit up, including the traction control and antilock brake lights, until I restarted the truck and everything returned to normal.
On the return trip, the same thing happened again. It wasn’t a fluke, and a quick Google search shows a few other 2022 Frontier drivers have experienced the same thing. It seems to be easily fixable by Nissan technicians, but it’s still jarring to see in a brand-new truck.
Fortunately, other than that issue, the weeklong drive was flawless. It makes me think this new Frontier is exactly what Nissan needs to bring to the truck market to keep things interesting.
Pricing starts at $28,340 for the King Cab S grade with rear-wheel drive. A 4×4 version is available for $3,200 extra.
With a bigger Crew Cab layout, the Frontier starts at $29,990 and tops out at $38,120 for the 4×4 PRO-4X.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab 4×4 ($37,240). Options: Off-road style step rails ($750), bed access package ($540), pro convenience package ($1,990), pro premium package ($2,790), sport bar ($1,095), technology package ($990). Price as tested (including $1,175 destination charge): $46,570
Wheelbase: 139.8 in.
Length: 224.1 in.
Width: 74.7 in.
Height: 72.9 in.
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 (310 hp, 281 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 17 city, 22 highway
Why buy it?
A refined driving feel, even on the PRO-4X version, and right-sized capability make the all-new Frontier stand out in the truck market.