2022 Nissan Frontier Review

2022 Nissan Frontier - 16 years later, the third generation has arrived.


The Frontier nameplate first debuted in 1997 and enters its third generation for 2022. The previous generation was one of the longest running models on the market from 2005 - 2021. Nissan took a different approach with this one and launched the new V6 powertrain on the previous model in 2021. And now for 2022, the rest of the truck gets a complete overhaul that makes it a viable competitor in the midsize truck class competing with others such as the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Jeep Gladiator, and Toyota Tacoma.

The Frontier is available in a wide variety of configurations starting with either a King or Crew Cab. King Cab models are offered in 4x2 or 4x4 in both S and SV grades with a 6-foot bed. Crew Cabs are also offered in both 4x2 or 4x4 S and SV grades, as well as the PRO-4X (4x4 only) and PRO-X (4x2 only). All crew cabs feature a 5-foot bed except the SV LWB model which features a 6-foot bed. All Frontiers get the same 3.8L V6 that delivers 310 horsepower and 281 lb.ft. of torque mated to a 9-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. When properly equipped it can tow up to 6,720 pounds and haul up to 1,610 pounds.  Prices range from $27,840 for an S King Cab 4x2 up to $37,240 for PRO-4X Crew Cab 4x4. I spent a week in a Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab loaded up with options that came to $46,965... here is what stood out.

Exterior Style (+)
The all-new truck grabs attention at first glance with a style that is more rugged and slightly reminiscent of the original Nissan Hardbody. It's now on par with rivals featuring a modern, chiseled hood that sits atop a large squared off grille and headlights. The design evokes both a wider and taller stance. The truck is slightly bigger than the outgoing model, but not by much. Fenders are enhanced with body cladding and room for upgraded tire sizes. Around back, Nissan is on trend with Frontier stamped into the lower half of the tailgate flanked by available LED taillamps. Nissan offers a variety of accessories to make it your own such as the sport bar on my test vehicle that added to its rugged appeal. Other options include 17" beadlock-style aluminum alloy wheels, a bed access package with a rear bumper step, bedliner, and bed tent and more. It's an athletic looking truck that seems to be the perfect size for someone looking in the mid-size segment.

Frontier Concepts (+)
To further tie the Frontier to its heritage, Nissan brought out a collection of retro concepts to the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. These concept project trucks all utilized the same base Frontier Crew Cab and combined available Nissan and aftermarket parts with custom pieces and graphics.  The Project 72X paid homage to the iconic Datsun 720, Project Hardbody to the original Hardbody with classic block-style 80s wheels, and the Project Adventure showcased how the Frontier could be an all-out overlanding rig. While only concepts, these versions of the Frontier highlight the truck's potential for someone looking to customize. For now we can only dream that Nissan offers some of these variations in the future.

Performance (+/-)
The same 3.8L V6 that gets 310 horsepower and 281 lb.ft. of torque comes standard in all models. Rear wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available. It mates to a 9-speed transmission and horsepower is higher than all its core competitors. Acceleration was generally smooth as it went from 0-60 in around 7.4 seconds. However, there were moments in quick changes (up and down) that the shifts were less smooth as it seemed to hesitate looking for the appropriate gear.  Handling was appropriate and it's an easy truck to maneuver with minimal body roll at sharp turns. Steering is less nimble, but also sufficient considering it is a truck. It offers a smooth ride with a suspension that absorbs road imperfections. The updated suspension with hydraulic cab mounts reduces road vibration and new jounce bumpers make it smooth on and off-road. It's much more refined than some competitors that have not been updated in a while. The Frontier feels grounded to the pavement with all four tires and at highway speeds is controlled and never felt loose.

Off-Road Capable (+)
Not only does it look ready for the trails, but the new Frontier is also more capable. I was fortunate to drive this truck both on and off-road and can testify to its capability. The most capable version is the Pro-4X model which comes standard with a 4-wheel limited-slip differential, hill start assist, hill descent control, an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers, a front aluminum and three steel underbody skid plates. All combined, this provides a great base for someone looking for an adventure at a price that's lower than the competition. On the off-road course, the Frontier navigated through large boulders, steep inclines/declines, and water fording with ease. The standard P265/70/R17 all-terrain tires were sufficient, although meatier off-road tires would certainly improve traction and smoothness. A new Off-Road Mode will automatically turn the cameras on inside when the vehicle is in 4LO which provides a full view of the trails and off-road obstacles ahead for optimal off-roading without a spotter. One notation is that my test vehicle came equipped with the Nissan step rails which look good on pavement but significantly lower its clearance for off-road. Fortunately, they can be easily removed for an off-road adventure.

Fuel Economy (+/-)
When the Frontier arrived with a full 21-gallon tank it offered a range of approximately 430 miles. Fuel economy estimates are 17/22/19 MPG city/highway/combined and after a week of driving I averaged 16.2 MPG. Ratings are slightly better for the rear-wheel drive version, but still tend to be below average for the class.

Technology (+)
Along with the exterior overhaul comes an interior makeover that modernizes the truck with new technology. Either an 8 or 9-inch touchscreen is embedded in the dash with traditional buttons and knobs for alternative controls.  The system integrates with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via a cord connection but does offer wireless charging with a tray appropriately placed behind the gear shifter for easy access. Also new is the addition of USB-A and USB-C faster charging ports. The Frontier is the first model to get the new Nissan Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection and the aforementioned Off-Road Mode.  This monitor provides a great bird's eye view display of the area surrounding the truck for maximum visibility and limits blind spots. Other available features include NissanConnect Wi-Fi Hotspot, navigation, and a Fender premium audio system.

Interior (+)
The cabin of the Frontier offers a respectable amount of space to accommodate up to five passengers in the Crew Cab. King Cab models feature pillarless rear doors with two forward facing "jump" seats for when you need them to accommodate four.  Seats are very comfortable and supportive with Nissan's zero-gravity technology that are designed to reduce fatigue and provide optimal comfort. Seat positioning is good and an available power-adjustable driver's seat will aid in finding the perfect position.  Both heated seats and steering wheel are also available, as is a power sliding glass sunroof to let the outdoors in.  Rear seats comfortably accommodated my three kids with plenty of head and leg room that was on par with a compact crossover. The rear bench seat features a 60/40 split seat that folds to create a flat surface and also hidden storage. Interior materials are class appropriate with cloth upholstery standard, but also synthetic and genuine leather available as upgrades. Inside feels modern without being overly stylized which should align with its target consumers.

Safety (+/-
The only standard safety features offered on the Frontier are intelligent forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.  A long list of additional features known as Nissan Safety Shield 360 is available as an $990 option on all models. These additional features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking.  Also available are intelligent cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and a tire pressure monitoring system with easy-fill tire alert. While everything is available, prospective buyers should factor in the premium into the pricing since some competitors offer these standard.  That said, it seems to be a reasonably priced option on a more affordable truck.

Final Statement:
We've waited awhile for this one, but Nissan has delivered a worthy follow-up in its third generation. I really like the exterior style that conveys a freshly rugged vibe and I'm not alone. The Frontier had been long overlooked in this segment that has been dominated by just a couple players until recent years, but this new version is already popping up on the streets at seemingly faster rates. For prospective truck buyers, this one is a must-see.

First Impression Summary:

Test Vehicle:
2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab
Exterior Color: Tactical Green
Interior Color: Charcoal Leather
Options: Pro Convenience Package ($1,990), Pro Premium Package ($2,790), Sport Bar ($1,095), Technology Package ($990), Off-Road Style Step Rails ($750), Bed Access Package ($540)
MSRP as tested: $46,965 (With Delivery/Destination)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.