By Derek Price
Nissan’s all-new Frontier is available as an off-road pickup without four-wheel drive.
If you think that’s like buying an airplane without the wings, or a sound system without the speakers, you’re not alone. If I’m out in the wilderness, a good 4×4 system is the first thing I’d want to get through mud, ice or loose rocks.
Still, for people who want to save a few thousand bucks at the time of purchase, plus even more every time they fill up with gas, the Frontier Pro-X makes sense.
Compared to the Pro-4X, which comes with four-wheel drive, the Pro-X shaves $3,000 off the price but still carries serious off-road swagger. It has the same Bilstein shocks, aggressive fender flares, LED lights and “lava red” accents as its 4×4 brother.
It also saves 1 mpg in city driving and 2 mpg on the highway, according to federal ratings, which is a small improvement but enough to add up to big savings over the life of the vehicle — especially at today’s fuel prices.
With fuel economy ratings of 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, the Frontier offers better mileage than a close competitor, the Toyota Tacoma, which is rated for just 20 mpg in highway driving for its TRD off-road versions.
On the flip side, the redesigned Frontier remains a lot less efficient than car-based newcomers like the Ford Maverick, which boasts a 30-mpg highway rating or 33 as a hybrid.
The Frontier, though, is 100-percent truck.
You can feel the heaviness and strength from the driver’s seat. The new Frontier’s chassis and suspension do a good job soaking up bumps on the highway, including with the PRO-X’s Bilstein off-road shocks. It’s one of the more supple, comfortable midsize pickups for sale today after its total redesign.
It’s also designed to do real work, including towing up to 6,720 pounds when properly equipped. It drives home the point with two tow hooks in front, up from one in the outgoing model.
Inside, the new cabin embodies what designers planned for this truck: the right size.
The fresh Frontier feels roomier and more substantial than a lot of midsize competitors. Part of that is because of the seating layout, which does a smart job of maximizing the perception of spaciousness, but also because of supersized storage compartments.
The center console has four liters of storage capacity, about twice that of most midsize pickups, and the doors are fitted with massive storage bins that rival half-ton trucks.
It’s also a much more modern-looking truck, both inside and out.
A new dash layout follows the predictable pattern of all today’s new cars, focusing almost entirely on a huge, 9-inch touchscreen front and center. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard on all models, something I wish I could say about every vehicle.
Pricing starts at $28,690 for the base S trim with a king cab and ranges up to $38,120 for a crew-cab PRO-4X model.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-X Crew Cab 4×2 ($34,240). 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), off-road protection package ($400), carpeted floor mats ($160). Price as tested (including $1,175 destination charge): $44,220
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: 18 city, 24 highway
Why buy it?
An all-new design brings the Nissan Frontier into the modern age. The PRO-X offers adventurous looks and off-road chops for people who don’t need a 4×4.