We just can’t beat a week with a truck, especially one of the smaller ones such as the Nissan Frontier. Over the past three years Nissan has won many awards for being the top-rated mid-sized pickup from JD Powers. As other mid-sized pickups have tended to grow over the years, Nissan has stayed true to its size, and even offers two different length wheel bases in the Frontier.
This year the Frontier is also sporting a new engine to go with the classic design. A completely redesigned V6 power plant replaces the old V6 and inline 4-cylinder engines that put out 261 and 152 horsepower respectively.
This new engine will produce a more truck-like 310 ponies with 281 ft.-lbs. of torque, and is mated to an all-new 9-speed automatic transmission that replaced the old 5-speed manual or automatic transmission. We found that this all added up to a 2 miles per gallon increase in fuel economy and as Nissan put it, is a look at things to come when they completely redesign the Frontier. We also had to ask if some of these new additions also will be lurking in the future for the Titan.
Our first immediate impression with the interior of the cab was that it was roomy and well designed; the compact pickup truck has come a long way from the Datsun of old that Craig once used to get his sound equipment around in back in the early 80s. The 2020 Frontier is built in the same way as the Nissan Titan and Armada, and Nissan has done a fantastic job with the Pro-4X, both in the interior comfort and also how it rides and performs.
We found the truck to be everything the Nissan said it would be with the statement of “Solid to the Core,” as it was easy to handle and maneuver in and out of traffic on the trip to Salt Lake with both a tight and nimble feel about it. It was enjoyable getting around in the big city and even easier to park in a very full lot than we have experienced with a full-sized pickup.
With the Pro-4X packaged truck, hitting the hills also would be well within its repertoire, as the Frontier was designed with 4-wheeling in mind, reaping the benefits of engineering from the old Nissan Xterra. In fact, after a week with the Frontier we would have had no problem taking it on some of the most challenging trails in Moab. With the active brake limited slip system engaged, the truck will automatically brake a spinning wheel and apply more power to the remaining tires in contact with the ground.
Let’s also not forget the Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Controls that are standard with the Pro-4X. The start assist keeps the vehicle locked in place until enough power is applied to the accelerator to move forward, and the descent control will automatically keep the vehicle at an even, slow speed when descending a steep incline. We have had the opportunity in the past to use both features from Nissan, and they work exactly as advertised when we really needed them.
Craig was a big fan of all the options that were included in the truck, making it both a great ride and also capable of being an office on wheels if needed. There was plenty of space to store all the stuff he needed and along with extra 12 volt outlets to power anything, making it a great office on the go. The Frontier also included Bluetooth capability for any device, and there is also a USB port for charging and integrating a mobile device.
The EPA fuel estimate on the Frontier is now 17 city and 23 highway. We got an impressive 21.3 mpg during the week that included about half highway and half city driving.
We really felt that Nissan had spent a lot of time thinking about – and innovating – the bed of the Frontier truck. We took the opportunity to clean out some places around the house on Saturday and use the truck to transport some unwanted items to the dump and found that this Nissan thinking time really paid off as they have added a factory-applied spray on bed liner and with Nissan’s ULTILE-TRAKtm tie-down system that featured cross-section rails mounted in the bed of the truck, it was easy to secure our stuff and get it transported efficiently and safely.
Nissan also has added a standard locking detachable tailgate, a tinted front window and rear privacy glass to the Pro4X that really added to the design of the overall aesthetics of the truck. The overall look of the truck has not changed significantly in the past few years on the outside, still sporting a more rugged outdoor look, that just shouts, “I want to go climbing!”
Our Pro-4X came with the luxury package that added power front seats and a navigation package that was very helpful for getting around. Standard options in this model were leather seats with a nice white stitching and a Pro-4X logon on the headrest. There also was a dual zone temperature control, backup camera and a fantastic Rockford Fosgate stereo system complete with 10 speakers, including a sub-woofer!
The Nissan Frontier Pro4X is always a fantastic drive for the week and we would highly recommend it if you just need a small truck to haul things or just pull a small trailer with. With a starting base price that is just over $25,000 you can’t go wrong with the Nissan, along with being one of the cheapest stickers in its class with all the standard features that the Frontier comes with.
Base Price: $37,490
Price as Driven: $38,745