2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4x Crew Cab 4×4 Automatic V-6 vs. 2022 Toyota Tacoma SR5 4×4 Double Cab: Midsize truck battle.
This week: Nissan Frontier
Price: $46,570 as tested. Pro Convenience Package added bed liner, tie-downs, heated front seats, and more for $1,990. Technology package adds a bevy of safety features for $995. A Sport Bar is $1,095.
conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the “nicer and more modern interior than before, less wind and road noise on the highway, rugged Pro-4X is refined on-road, too,” but not the “heavy steering effort at low speeds, steering column still doesn’t telescope, even the crew cab’s backseat feels cramped.”
Marketer’s pitch: “Find your Frontier.”
Reality: (Looks around.) OK, found it. Now what?
What’s new: The Frontier gets redesigned for 2022, with a new look and more standard safety technology.
Up to speed: The 3.8-liter V-6 first offered for 2020 creates 310 horsepower. It motivates the truck pretty ably, but I would occasionally get stuck in the dead zone for a second or two while attempting to roar onto a highway before everything kicked in.
Motor Trend says it gets to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds — no racer but faster than the Tacoma by almost half a second.
Shifty: The 9-speed automatic transmission takes the Toyota path to shiftability, in that its existence is just an illusion. Plus/minus directives don’t really allow for shifting gears, but only limiting to a certain gear; the Frontier will take over all the work no matter what.
The system works fairly well, but the aforementioned dead zone seems to be related to the hunt for gears. I felt it again on an uphill start from about 10 to 15 mph.
On the road: The Frontier handling can seem straightforward and verging on mundane at first, but it does give decent feedback. It’s pretty manageable for a midsize truck when snaking through tight country curves; I never felt like it wandered or seemed difficult to stay in lane. But fun driving? That’s Ranger SXT or Canyon AT4 territory.
The Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat decrees it a bouncy highway ride.
Still, like the Pathfinder, the Frontier seemed pretty slip-prone on wet surfaces. Check those tires and see if there’s a different option available. Advantage: Tacoma.
Off the road: The Frontier offers fortitude in four-wheel drive. A test on some icy, muddy trails showed the pickup to be a worthy companion when foraging through farm and field.
Driver’s Seat: No telescoping function in the steering wheel made everything else feel secondary. The wheel sat in a comfortable position, but still, I’m not sure why adjustment is not available.
Power lumbar adjustment was also absent; A Nissan rep assured me a manual adjustment was there, but I never heard back until after the vehicle departed and never found it myself.
Friends and stuff: Rear-seat passengers have decent accommodations, but the seat sits very upright so it would be less than ideal for the long haul. Legroom, headroom, and foot room are all good, though.
The compartment is not as accommodating for cargo, either. The seat bottoms fold upward, but not nearly as vertical and out-of-the-way as competitors. They do fold down for a flat compartment as well, so, choices are good, but I’ve found the fold-up style to work best.
Payload is limited to 6,700 pounds, and the bed is just under 5 feet long. Towing is 1,600 pounds max in a 2wd version. All these numbers are bested by the Tacoma a little.
» READ MORE: Read last week’s review: 2022 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition
Play some tunes: Dials control tuning and volume, a few buttons help navigate, and then the 9-inch touchscreen handles everything else.
Sound from the 10-speaker Fender Premium Audio system is OK, about a B+. It comes as part of the Pro Premium Package, which for $2,790 also leatherizes the seats and adds a sunroof and some other features.
Keeping warm and cool: Dials control the temperature and buttons handle everything else. Blowers are rectangular and hard to direct, but the frontier creates a whole boatload of heat.
night shift: The lights sit just right and illuminate the road well, and I didn’t have the down side of other cars flashing their lights at me. The interior lights are simple plastic push on/off models, and though they’re bright, they don’t interfere with the road.
Fuel economy: The trip odometer featured over 800 miles of driving — I drove about one-fourth of that — and the truck averaged 18.8 mpg in that time. So, on the low side, and that’s not just my lead foot pulling things down.
Where it’s built: Canton, Miss.
How it’s built: Car and Driver predicts the Frontier reliability to be a 2 out of 5, a slight drop over the years.
In the end: Bouncy and slip-prone with a weak stereo system and no telescoping steering wheel means the Frontier is left in the dust.
While the Trail Edition made the Tacoma’s wet weather ride so nice, highway comfort and quiet are lacking. Still, I’d probably choose the Tacoma over the Frontier.
But truthfully, I’d rather look at the Ford Ranger SXT or GMC Canyon AT4 if I were purchasing a midsize truck of my own.