2022 Nissan Frontier: First Drive Review

© Nissan North America2022 Nissan Frontier
After a long run for the previous model, a new third-generation Nissan Frontier joins the automaker’s truck lineup for the 2022 model year. The 2022 Nissan Frontier continues to compete in the increasingly popular midsize pickup segment with bold new looks, a powerful engine and the latest technology features. Nissan has a long history of building trucks for the North American market and was the first to offer a compact truck for the U.S. via the Datsun 220 in 1959. Frontier joined the Nissan lineup in 1997 as a 1998 model, and the second generation arrived as a 2005 model and continued through the 2021 model year — a significant run.

© Nissan North AmericaPowerful, Historical
The front end of the 2022 Nissan Frontier looks much more powerful than the outgoing model with a large, upright rectangular grille flanked by what Nissan calls “precision interlocking headlights,” as well as upper and lower daytime running lights that wrap into the front fenders. The sculpted hood sits high and flat above the grille. For this new Frontier, Nissan designers assimilated particular elements from the Hardbody pickup of the 1980s that preceded the Frontier.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceFrontier Front to Back
The 2022 Nissan Frontier boasts a high beltline with upright fenders that are more flared than the previous model, along with integrated overfenders. At the rear, designers sculpted the tailgate to flow toward vertical taillights that wrap into the fenders. FRONTIER gets stamped in bold letters across the lower edge of this easily removable tailgate.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceFrontier PRO-X / PRO-4X
To further bolster the 2022 Frontier lineup, Nissan adds a 2-wheel-drive PRO-X variant alongside the PRO-4X all-wheel drive version, and both include LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and Lava Red grille accents.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
Nissan offers the 2022 Frontier as a King Cab or Crew Cab with 2WD or 4WD in S and SV trim levels. The PRO-X and PRO-4X are only offered in 4-door Crew Cab configuration. The 2WD PRO-X has the same rugged exterior looks as the 4WD PRO-4X, of course without the electronic locking differential (or underbody skidplates). A 6-foot bed is standard for King Cab configurations, and a 5-foot bed is standard for Crew Cabs. However, the Crew Cab SV is also offered with a longer wheelbase and 6-foot bed in both 2WD and 4WD.

© Nissan North America2022 Frontier Pricing
Pricing for the 2022 Nissan Frontier King Cab starts at $27,840 for the S 2WD, followed by the SV 2WD at $30,540. Adding 4WD brings the price up to $31,040 for the S and $33,740 for the SV. The Frontier Crew Cab starts at $29,340 for the S 2WD, $32,140 for the SV and $34,040 for the SV LWB. Adding 4WD the Frontier Crew Cab S bumps the price to $32,340, followed by the SV at $35,140 and SV LWB at $37,040. The 2WD PRO-X is $34,240, with the range-topping PRO-4X at $37,240. The prices do not include a destination charge of $1,175.

© Nissan North AmericaUnder the Hood
The 2022 Nissan Frontier is powered by a 3.8-liter direct-injection V6 engine producing 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine and transmission were developed specifically for the U.S. market, sporting an increase of 49 horsepower over the outgoing 4.0-liter V6 engine. When equipped with 4WD, Frontier features a shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel-drive system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes and an electronically controlled transfer case. Hill descent control is standard on all variants with 4WD, and an available 4-wheel limited-slip system helps transfer power to wheels with more grip. The PRO-4X adds an electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shocks and underbody skidplates.

© Nissan North AmericaInner Space
The Frontier interior includes a 7-inch Advanced Driver Assist Display, an available 9-inch color touchscreen, standard Apple CarPlay, standard Android Auto, and available Wi-Fi and wireless charging. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is available on all trim levels. Zero Gravity seats are standard, and PRO-4X and PRO-X add Lava Red interior accents. Acoustic laminated glass in the front doors and additional insulation reduce interior road noise. A Fender Premium Audio System with 10 speakers is available on the SV, PRO-X and PRO-4X.

© Nissan North AmericaNew Technology
The 2022 Nissan Frontier is the first model to receive the Nissan Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode. The new Off-Road Mode is available on the PRO-4X and functions while the vehicle is moving forward at slow speeds and the 4WD system is in 4LO.

© Nissan North AmericaSafety
Available safety technology for the 2022 Nissan Frontier includes Nissan Safety Shield 360 that features automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high-beam headlight assist and rear automatic braking. Additional available features include intelligent cruise control, traffic sign recognition and intelligent driver alertness.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceMore Refined
Engineers revised the suspension and steering of the 2022 Nissan Frontier to improve ride and responsiveness. The new truck gests a larger front stabilizer bar as well as urethane jounce bumpers for improved damping, and hydraulic cab mounts to reduce vibration. The steering has been retuned for better on-center feel, and the steering ratio has been increased for quicker response with less effort.

© Nissan North AmericaRight-Sized Truck
During the 2022 Frontier redesign process, Nissan engineers avoided the temptation to increase the size of the truck too much, referring to it as “right-sized” and keeping it in line with key competitors that are slightly larger. The wheelbase is nearly identical to the outgoing model at 126 inches, although the overall length has increased by almost 5 inches. The Frontier Crew Cab Short Bed remains 2.1 inches shorter than the Toyota Tacoma, 0.6 inches shorter than Ford Ranger and 2.5 inches shorter than Chevrolet Colorado. Frontier is also narrower than all three competitors at 73 inches, with Tacoma the widest at 74.4 inches.

© Nissan North AmericaOn the Road
Nissan invited us to test the new Frontier in the mountains of Utah around Sundance and Park City, driving the Frontier PRO-4X both on the highway and off-road. From the get-go, the 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X clearly feels like a truck in a world now dominated by car-based crossover vehicles. The ride is firm and even slightly rough compared to some competitors, but it is a truck and retains a trucklike demeanor. The new engine has lots of power to back up the bold looks of the redesigned PRO-4X and its upright black grille, black overfenders and black wheels. The Hankook DynaPro AT2 all-terrain tires are noisier on the highway and not as responsive thanks to taller sidewalls, but they’re a trade-off for the additional off-road capability on dirt and rocks.

© Nissan North AmericaOn the Road
The 2022 Nissan Frontier’s new 3.8-liter V6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission are a great package with plenty of power for comfortable cruising and overall drivability. The transmission shifts smoothly and quickly to higher gears under normal acceleration. Climbing through the mountains, the truck did hunt for gears a bit to maintain highway speeds, but overall the powertrain is a commendable package for this truck.

© Nissan North AmericaOff-Road
During out time with the 2022 Nissan Frontier we drove the PRO-4X off-road as well, primarily on dirt roads with areas of exposed large rocks. The firm suspension handles rocks well at moderate speeds. In one section we shifted to the 4LO range to climb some larger rocks, which the PRO-4X also handled with aplomb. Although we didn’t traverse any extremely challenging or technical off-road sections, the Frontier PRO-4X with its 2-speed transfer case has the equipment and pedigree to perform well in even more difficult off-road conditions. During our drive we used the Off-Road mode to tackle some larger rocks, relying on the front camera to help choose the best line without the need for a spotter.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceTowing
During our testing we also had the opportunity to tow for a short distance, hauling a boat weighing 4,600 pounds including the trailer. The Frontier PRO-4X is rated to tow a maximum of 6,270 pounds — the truck did an adequate job with the boat and trailer, although at times acceleration was slow. The Frontier PRO-4X would be good for a couple of short trips a year, such as a couple of weekend trailer trips or moving a boat to the water from storage for the summer, but for more frequent or longer trips we would recommend a larger, more powerful tow vehicle.

© Nissan North America2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
The bold exterior looks of the 2022 Frontier PRO-4X resemble the full-size Titan pickup, although the midsize truck retains a look all its own. Inside, the new model’s updates are subtle; the available 9-inch color infotainment screen is a welcome addition, and the front camera is useful in slow off-road conditions. The Lava Red interior accents for PRO-4X add a sporty flair fitting in with the truck’s exterior looks. The rear seat offers enough space for two and possibly three adults in Crew Cab versions, although legroom is tight in the King Cab.

© Nissan North AmericaRight for You?
The bold styling and the 3.8-liter V6 engine of the 2022 Nissan Frontier are welcome updates to a solid truck that has been around for more than 15 years. That said, except for the new engine and transmission, the most significant changes are exterior styling with evolutionary updates to the overall truck. Frontier feels like a truck and thus the suspension might be a little stiff for some, although for buyers who prefer a truck that feels like a truck, Frontier continues to be a solid choice.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 8.0
Pros: Great styling; decent power from V6 engine; solid midsize truck on road and off.
Cons: Ride is a little rough; still has old-school truck feel.
Bottom Line: The new Frontier is a solid midsize truck and we appreciate the updated styling, although after a decade and a half the new model is more the evolution of an existing formula rather than a dramatic step forward.

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