While auto journalists were quick to right off the second-gen Nissan Frontier for being old and outdated once other automakers came out with newer midsize trucks, I don’t think that a lot of consumers minded. At least, I know that one consumer didn’t care about the Frontier’s age. My dad had a 2013 Frontier SV Crew Cab with the 4.0-liter V6 engine. He purchased it new and absolutely loved it. It was simple, rugged, and capable of everything he needed it to be. Over the years, he considered trading in his truck for a new one, just because he liked it so much. He never even considered another option.
So, when I pulled into my parents’ driveway in the fully redesigned 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X with its handsome design and swanky tech features, he was afraid that it was trying to be something it wasn’t. That Nissan had lost sight of the original model’s charm. We’re both happy to report that that’s not the case.
The 2022 Frontier is fully redesigned and it’s arrived after approximately 13 years with the goods to take on the competition. But it retains the ruggedness, do-it-all nature, and versatile size that made regular people love the old model.
The Frontier is a good-looking truck. It might actually be the best-looking truck in the midsize segment, but it depends on trim, paint job, and time of day. The Pro-4X in the Tactical Green Metallic paint job with the orange accents and sports bar looks awesome. Like a Hot Wheels Tonka truck, the Frontier immediately grabs your attention at first glance.
I love the fact that Nissan didn’t go overboard with the Pro-4X trim. Yes, it’s the most rugged trim in the lineup, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with off-roading-bro touches. You get things like extra skid plates, all-terrain tires, and black wheels, which is just enough to highlight the truck’s rugged character.
While I don’t have a lot of bad things to say about the Frontier’s exterior design, the Off-Road running boards aren’t worth the extra money. I worry about them getting beat up when off-roading, plus it’s not like the Frontier is super tall to where they’re necessary.
Nissan has come a long way with its interiors and the Frontier showcases as much. The design of the cabin is far more modern than the last-gen truck and it comes with much nicer materials. The last Frontier suffered from a plastic-heavy cabin with a design that bordered on being too appealing to people that think a night filled with bingo at the local rec center is exciting. You’ll still find some of the same switches and controls as the old truck, but as a whole, the new Frontier feels way, way nicer.
In keeping in the memory of the old Frontier, the new one maintains the same easy-to-use feel. Everything’s logically placed and you don’t have to think three times about what a button does before pushing it. The Crew Cab body style offers a decent amount of space in both rows, as I wasn’t wanting for more space, but for a more relaxed seating position in the back. There’s also a nifty storage compartment underneath the rear seats.
Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats continue to be comfortable for long drives with the main issue being the lack of a telescoping steering column. While that would be fine if there were adjustable pedals, that’s not the case. That means taller people may struggle to find a comfortable seating position.
Would you be surprised if I said the 2022 Frontier drives and handles similarly to the last-gen model? The pickup truck utilizes the same overall frame as the last-gen truck and the 3.8-liter V6 engine was available in 2020. So, there’s little that’s actually new underneath the body beyond the suspension.
The ride has been improved, as the new Frontier doesn’t have the same jostling ride over broken pavement. I wouldn’t say it’s comfortable, but it’s certainly bearable. It’s pleasant enough for daily use, though the heavy steering can be tough to deal with at lower speeds. In the real world, the Frontier also strikes the balance between having the right size where it’s not annoying in the city and you can still fit a lot of stuff in its bed.
The 3.8-liter V6 engine generates 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, which feels like plenty for a midsize truck. You won’t be blown away by the performance, but there’s a lot of it that’s available and the nine-speed automatic transmission only struggles with the occasional downshift.
We weren’t able to do some serious off-roading with the Frontier Pro-4X, but found a clear field with a few steep inclines to mess around on. As expected, the Frontier Pro-4X was more than capable enough for a little bit of fun and we don’t think the truck will have any trouble on some more grueling terrain, though it certainly won’t be as capable as the Jeep Gladiator or Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
For consumers that have been waiting for Nissan to come out with a new Frontier, the 2022 model arrives with meaningful updates that make it far better than before. For the consumers out there that were hesitant about a new Frontier, the 2022 model retains enough of the old model to be recognizable. Nissan managed to find a way to make the 2022 Frontier feel fresh and be more competitive, but also kept the good parts intact. The latter may put the Frontier behind most of its competitors, but it’s sure to widen its appeal.