Car Review: New Frontier has rugged design

Sep. 23—There's been much written about the new Frontier pickup in recent months. You may recall its new sheet metal debuting with the 2022 model following nearly 20 years of ho-hum-ness.

The industry was ready for a major change and, in some ways, it delivered; however after a week behind the wheel of the SV Crew Cab, we came away with mixed feelings. The mid-size pickup has a modern front grille that juts outward in a restyled fashion along with fender flares — a good thing.

Some of you remember driving without power steering back in the day and that's the feel Nissan built into this pickup: a surprisingly heavy turner that makes parallel parking a real chore. Our mid-range tester had a ruggedness about it, though, that helped us overlook some of its deficiencies. Its spacious cab has room to stretch and a good amount of storage up front and full-length compartments below the rear seat.

Powering the 4,800-pound truck frame is an impressive 310 horsepower V6 mated with a nine-speed automatic transmission. An earlier four-cylinder was discontinued. We found brisk acceleration off the line and the sprint to 60 miles per hour did so in a respectable 7.6 seconds, average for this segment. We liked its road performance as it delivered a compliant ride. Braking was precise and highway noise minimal. However, due to its shorter wheelbase, the ride was choppy over rugged pavement. Gear shifts were smooth with ample passing power when needed.

The new Frontier is available as a King Cab in S or SV trim ($27,840-33,740) or with spacious Crew Cab in base S, SV, Pro-X and Pro 4X ($29,340-37,240). All are available with rear wheel drive or 4x4 configuration. Destination fees add $1,175. Our SV Crew Cab LWB tipped the scales at $36,660 including a technology package — its sole option including bumper step and carpeted floor mats.

While the exterior gets a passing grade, we found interior amenities in our tester lacking with hard plastics and basic instrumentation and a rear seat in need of more cushioning. On the flip side, for those who detest touch screen controls, our tester had physical knobs for adjusting volume and tuning settings. Zero gravity seats offer excellent comfort for driver and passenger. Interior storage includes generous room behind and below retractable rear seats, center console and a storage bin on top of the dashboard.

The technology package includes standard forward collision warning. Nissan Safety Shield 360 features automatic high beams, automated front and rear emergency braking, blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control although the latter releases braking seconds after a stop. Standard connectivity is offered for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and they connect through an eight-inch touchscreen.

There is some hefty competition for the new Frontier including the Chevy Colorado, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma. A test drive will help sort out your favorites.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at