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2019 Nissan Frontier

$19,090 - $36,950
Price Range (MSRP)
Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier Review

by Jared Rosenholtz

The fact that the Nissan Frontier still sells well, despite having received only marginal updates since 2005, is a testament to its design. It's no surprise that it won J.D. Power's Most Dependable award in 2016. However, nothing can beat time, and the Frontier's age is starting to show as younger, more exciting compact pickups are hitting the market. If that wasn't enough, most of the vehicle's long-standing competitors like the Toyota Tacoma have moved with the times and incorporated many new features that have become standard on new releases.

Despite the lack of features such as driving assistance or modern infotainment, the Frontier is popular for its powerful 4.0-liter V6 engine and the host of transmission options, which include a five- or six-speed manual and five-speed automatic gearboxes with rear or all-wheel drivetrains. This V6 engine produces a decent 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. And, with the lowest price tag for a new mid-size truck, it's not surprising that many buyers still view the Frontier in a good light.

2019 Nissan Frontier Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Frontier?

The Nissan Frontier is almost the same truck it was when first released in 2005. Over more than a decade, it has only received minor tweaks to its kit, and the 2019 model follows this trend. The standard S and SV trims have received a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but the lack of any new features to synergize with it is disappointing. Also new is the Cayenne Red body paint option. It has been rumored that a whole new Frontier model will be released for 2020, and that will hopefully incorporate many of the features that its predecessor has refused to.

Pros and Cons

  • Low price
  • Multiple configurations to suit a variety of needs
  • Powerful V6 engine and capable transmission
  • Surprisingly responsive throttle
  • Competitive hauling and towing capacities
  • Pro-4X is a great off-roader
  • Horribly outdated design
  • Lacks common modern tech features
  • Inefficient fuel consumption
  • Uncomfortable rear seats
  • Lags behind almost all competitors in overall performance

Frontier Exterior

The Frontier looks as rugged and durable as it is, with a wide-body and imposing cab design. The large front and back bumpers leave no doubt that this truck was designed to be a workhorse, while the chrome grille hints at the powerful engine beneath the hood. The halogen headlights are set high on the body with space below for optional fog lights on the higher trim levels. The base S model comes with 15-inch steel wheels, which are upgraded to 16 or 18-inch alloy wheels on higher trims. Two bodies are on offer in the form of the King Cab or Crew Cab, with the Crew featuring a smaller cargo bed by default, but with an option to lengthen it.

2019 Nissan Frontier Front Angle View
2019 Nissan Frontier Side View
2019 Nissan Frontier Side View
See All 2019 Nissan Frontier Exterior Photos

Dimensions

While only a mid-size pickup, the Nissan Frontier still sports a pretty impressive figure, measuring 68.7 inches in height and an impressive 205.5 inches in length. Even though it is a bit slimmer than competitors at 72.8 inches wide and with a wheelbase of 125.9 inches, the base Frontier S King Cab weighs in at a heavy 3,781 pounds, while the Frontier SL Crew Cab comes in at 4,624 pounds in its four-wheel-drive configuration. Compared to this, the Toyota Tacoma can seem like a lightweight with only 3,980 pounds in its two-wheel-drive derivatives. Additionally, the Frontiers 8.7-inch curb weight doesn't impress quite as much as the Tacoma does, offering 9.4 inches in its Access Cab iteration. The Nissan pickup also has a reduced approach and departure angles of 27.8 degrees and 21.0 degrees, respectively.

With bed sizes ranging from five feet to just over six feet, the Frontier offers versatility in terms of maximum payload. Anything from 900 lbs to 1,460 lbs can successfully be loaded onto the bed, depending on configuration; still, many of its rivals can manage the same, or better.

Exterior Colors

The 2019 Frontier is available in a variety of colors. Returning from older models are the Magnetic Black, Gun Metallic, Brilliant Silver, Glacier White, and Arctic Blue Metallic body colors, not all are available with every trim level, however. New to 2019 color palette is Cayenne Red. There is also a Midnight Black Edition, which pairs dark black body paint with black tinted detailing, rims, grille, and lettering. The front bumper can be bottom black/top body-color or body-color, while the back bumper is body-color only.

  • Magnetic Black Pearl
  • Cayenne Red Metallic
  • Glacier White
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Gun Metallic
  • Arctic Blue Metallic

Frontier Performance

The Nissan Frontier was designed with ruggedness and durability in mind. Its everyday performance is good, but only up to a point. The optimal 4.0-liter V6 engine with a five-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive available on the Crew Cab trims takes about eight seconds to reach 60 mph and can achieve a 115 mph top speed without too much trouble, which is roughly comparable to the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. This V6 produces an admirable 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, giving the truck enough power to haul an impressive 1,460 lbs and tow up to 6,690 lbs. While this is by no means a small amount, it does fall short of some competitors such as the more powerful Tacoma at 6,800 lbs, and the Ranger's 7,500 lbs.

2019 Nissan Frontier Front View Driving
2019 Nissan Frontier Rear Angle View
2019 Nissan Frontier Engine

Engine and Transmission

The Frontier is available in various engine and transmission combinations. The King Cab models come standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 152 hp and 171 lb-ft. While this engine is on the weaker side, it can be upgraded to the optional 4.0-liter V6 that comes standard with the Crew Cab models. It is this stronger engine that has helped the Frontier maintain its popularity, pumping out 261 hp and 281 lb-ft, even if it can sound a bit coarse. While the horsepower falls short of competitors, like the Ford Ranger with its 2.0-liter bi-turbo engine, the powerful and responsive throttle makes up for it, offering adequate in-town maneuverability while still allowing the truck to play well in the dirt.

The four-cylinder engine can be paired with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox, while the V6 goes with a six-speed manual or five-speed auto. While they still feel good enough on this older engine, these transmissions are a bit outdated when compared to rival trucks that offer eight-speed options. King Cab models offer rear-wheel-drive on the S, SV and Desert Runner trims, with four-wheel-drive optional on the V6 SV and standard on the Pro-4X. Crew Cab models offer a choice between the two drivetrains on the S and SV, while the Desert Runner is still limited to rear-wheel-drive and the Pro-4X and SL only come with four-wheel-drive.

  • Engines
    2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas, 4.0-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    5-Speed Automatic, 5-Speed Manual, 6-Speed Manual
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

For a truck designed to be a workhorse with off-road capabilities, the Nissan Frontier manages to achieve good daily driveability, making it suitable for work or even family use. The throttle is responsive, allowing it to maneuver well in town traffic and the suspension smooths out most road abrasions. However, the drive comfort begins to wane at higher speeds, with wind noise becoming an issue alongside the bobbing of the elevated cabin. While not unbearable, this persistent discomfort can make the Frontier unappealing for extended use when its competitors offer a much smoother and quieter ride.

Considering its weight, the Frontier handles quite well, taking corners without losing control. However, the steering can feel a little loose and unresponsive if you haven't grown accustomed to it. This may be fine for off-road driving where space isn't at a premium, but it can limit the truck's fun factor in town. The brakes are adequate at normal traveling speeds but have a poor stop time of 135 ft at 60 mph - meaning you don't want to be caught by surprise when traveling at higher speeds.

The Frontier is definitely better designed to roam the wild like the beast its engine makes it sound like. And if off-road fun is what you have in mind, the Pro-4X is your best bet. Ideally fitted with improved suspension and off-road tires, this premium trim optimizes the rugged kind of fun that the Frontier seems designed to deliver.

Frontier Gas Mileage

With its large variety of engine and transmission combinations, the Frontier provides varying degrees of fuel economy - but none of them are at the forefront of the class. In fact, it lags behind all its competitors. With every combination featuring a 21.1-gallon tank, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder achieves a city/highway/combined consumption of 19/23/21 mpg, while the automatic gets 17/22/19 mpg. The thirstier 4.0-liter V6 achieves 16/22/19 mpg in manual and 16/23/19 mpg in automatic. These figures are all for the rear-wheel-drivetrain. The more versatile 4X4 on the V6 gets even worse results, with 16/21/18 mpg in manual and 15/21/17 mpg in automatic. All configurations use regular gasoline, with the most efficient configuration being the base four-cylinder manual, getting 443.1 combined miles from one tank of fuel.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.1 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/23 mpg
* 2019 Nissan Frontier King Cab 4x2 S Manual

Frontier Interior

The interior of the Frontier is where its age really shows, with the cabin looking almost exactly as it did back in 2005. While this may give the truck an old-school feel, many buyers will be expecting a more modern design. The cabin is sturdy with a hard plastic dashboard and door panels. While this adds to the rugged aesthetic that seems to be the Frontier's trademark, it doesn't provide much comfort or luxury. The lack of luxuries extends to the minimalist infotainment features, which are sorely lacking compared to newer trucks. The few controls that are present inside the cab are easily accessible at least, but they are also analog, which arguably allows for easy operation and understanding.

2019 Nissan Frontier Dashboard
2019 Nissan Frontier Front Seats
2019 Nissan Frontier Front Seats
See All 2019 Nissan Frontier Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The seats in the Frontier are basic but mostly comfortable, with the King Cab body seating four while the Crew Cab fits five. These bucket seats are standard for work trucks. While the cab might be mounted high on the chassis, ingress and egress are made easier with foot- and handholds, ensuring that drivers and passengers of any size can easily access the truck. Similarly, the interior is comfortable for users of most sizes with 39.7 inches of headroom and 42.4 inches of legroom up front. The rear seats are somewhat more cramped, with only 25.4 inches of legroom, meaning passengers of six or more feet of height will struggle to stay comfortable for long stretches. While not height-adjustable, the driver and passenger seats are four-way manually adjustable with eight-way power-adjustability available for the driver at higher trim levels.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The Frontier's interior is comprised of cloth upholstered seats and plastic panels on the lower trim levels, with higher trims offering more luxurious leather materials. The King Cab Frontier S offers basic cloth upholstery in steel or graphite, while the SV comes with higher quality cloth seats in beige or graphite. The Crew Cab S/SV feature similar higher-quality cloth seats in beige, graphite or steel while the Pro-4X and Desert Runner offer graphite steel cloth. Only the Crew Cab Pro-4X and SL offer leather upholstery and include leather wrapped-steering wheels and shifters. The dashboard and door panels remain plastic in all trims and match the color scheme chosen for the seats.

Frontier Trunk and Cargo Space

The King Cab Frontier comes equipped with a 6 ft 1-inch bed as standard, while the Crew Cab has the smaller 5 ft bed - although there is the option to lengthen it to match the King Cab. The larger bed supplies approximately 46.9 cubic feet of cargo space while the smaller bed is limited to around 38 cubic feet. This space is supplemented by back seats capable of being flipped up or forward, although not completely folded down. The wide-opening rear doors on the larger Crew Cab allow for easy loading of cargo in the 16 cubic feet of space behind the front seats – enough to fit ten average-size carry-on bags. There is some small-item storage available in the form of a two-door glove compartment, a center console and door pockets in each door, as well as storage trays underneath the rear seat cushions.

The hauling capacities of the Frontier vary depending on engine, drivetrain and body option. The base Frontier S King Cab can manage only 900 lbs while at the other extreme, the V6 Crew Cab 4x2 SV can haul 1,460 lbs. These are the equivalent of approximately three and five refrigerators, respectively. The addition of utility features such as bed rail caps or a sliding bed extender with the Work Truck and Value Truck packages, respectively, also helps to manage loads better.

2019 Nissan Frontier Trunk Space
2019 Nissan Frontier Rear Angle View
2019 Nissan Frontier Side View

Frontier Infotainment and Features

Features

The Frontier is quite dated in terms of features, with only the bare minimum coming standard and limited extra options on the higher trims. The base Frontier S offers air conditioning, a rearview camera, and cruise control. However, it offers nothing in the way of driver assistance features that more modern vehicles are offering as standard. The SV adds power accessories such as electric windows, doors and keyless entry, with an optional package for rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, and heated seats. The Desert Runner adds adjustable driver-seat lumbar support. The Pro-4X with Premium package further adds a sun/moonroof and power-adjustable seats.

Infotainment

There are little to no infotainment features available in the Frontier, due to a lack of refits over the last decade. The Frontier S comes with AM/FM radio and a CD player with a four-speaker stereo, a seven-inch central audio infotainment display, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, Siri Eyes Free voice command, a single USB port, and an auxiliary audio jack. There are also two 12-volt DC power outlets. Satellite radio is added with the SV trim, while two extra speakers are available on the SV Value Truck package. The Desert Runner trim includes a trip computer. The Pro-4X is where most of the additional features come in, with a navigation system, dual-zone climate control, an MP3 player, SiriusXM radio and a six-speaker sound system, with the option to upgrade to a ten-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. The SL has all the above-mentioned features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available on any trim level, nor is Wi-Fi.

Frontier Problems and Reliability

While somewhat dated, the Nissan Frontier is still a reliable truck, having won J.D. Power's dependability award in 2016. Against more modern competitors, it still scores a decent 75/100. There was a semi-severe recall of the Frontier in 2016 due to faulty starter wire harnesses, which affected 1,554 units. Complaints aimed at the 2019 model have been few, with the majority focusing on the level of noise in the cabin or the engine and transmission not performing to spec. Nissan offers a limited warranty for 36,000 miles/36 months, a powertrain warranty for 60,000 miles/60 months but no maintenance like the Chevy Colorado or GMC Canyon.

Frontier Safety

The NHTSA gives the Nissan Frontier a four-star rating for safety. The IIHS gives an overall acceptable rating with three good, two acceptable and one marginal score. However, the IIHS did rate the headlights on the Frontier as being poor for crash avoidance.

Key Safety Features

With the now-standard rearview camera and only optional rear parking sensors, the Frontier is almost devoid of any safety features and lacks any form of driver-assistance. It relies on its sturdy construction and ample airbags to ensure user safety. There are dual-stage front airbags, driver and passenger seat-mounted airbags, and roof-mounted airbags. The truck does feature easy-to-access LATCH anchors, but the limited space in the cabin's rear makes it difficult to affix larger baby seats.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Nissan Frontier a good Truck?

The Nissan Frontier is a sturdy and capable mid-size pickup. However, it has fallen behind the times due to a lack of updates while its competitors release new models or refit their current models with updated features. The optional V6 engine is the truck's saving grace, providing decent power and above-average torque, allowing the truck to feel punchy and fun despite its age. The lack of modern infotainment features or any driver-assistance features does hurt its appeal though.

It is true that, when looking at value for money, the Frontier could fool a buyer into thinking it is the best deal with a low starting price of around $20,000. But falling into this trap would be a mistake. To get performance that would actually begin to rival more modern trucks, you would have to opt for the V6 engine and higher trim levels that add improved handling features. You would ultimately end up looking at around $26,000 to start with, and for that amount, you could very easily pick up an entry-level Toyota Tacoma or even a mid-tier Chevrolet Colorado, both of which offer many of the modern amenities a discerning buyer would expect in 2019.

The Frontier is a great throwback to a time when compact pickups were all about being rugged and imposing, but it's the man out of time now, looking unnecessarily brutish compared to its more refined and powerful rivals. Nissan has had a good run, but it may be time to start looking at another manufacturer or else wait to see if the long-awaited successor to the Frontier arrives in 2020, as we all hope.

What's the Price of the 2019 Nissan Frontier?

With a multitude of configuration options available on the Frontier, prices can vary substantially. However, the truck still manages to be quite affordable, even at higher trim levels. The 2.5-liter inline-four King Cab Frontier S has an MSRP of $19,090 while the SV starts at $23,960. But since the V6 engine is the Frontier's strongest selling point, the SV V6 will start at $27,720. The King Cab Desert Runner and Pro-4X both feature a V6 by default and go for $26,400 and $33,530, respectively. The premium trim Frontier SL is only available in the more expensive Crew Cab configuration and starts at $34,110. Adding all-wheel-drive to the popular SV V6 will raise it's base MSRP to $28,619. All these prices exclude tax, licensing, registration, and incentives. Nissan adds a destination charge of $1,045.

2019 Nissan Frontier Models

Briefly, the range comprises the King/Crew Cab Frontier S, the King/Crew SV, the King/Crew Desert Runner, the King/Crew Pro-4X and the Crew SL. The King S is available with the inline-four engine with a five-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel-drive, or 4X2 as Nissan calls it. The SV is equipped with either the inline-four or V6 with a five-speed automatic or manual gearbox on the inline-four and a five-speed automatic gearbox on the V6. 4X2 is standard, with 4X4 optional on the V6. The Desert Runner comes standard with the V6, a five-speed automatic gearbox, and rear-wheel-drive. The Pro-4X is powered by the V6 with a five-speed automatic gearbox in 4X4 configuration. The Crew Cab models feature the same gearbox and transmission combinations, with the only difference being that the S comes with a V6 standard and optional all-wheel-drive. The SL is exclusive to the Crew Cab body and features the V6 engine paired with a five-speed automatic gearbox and either 4X2 or 4X4.

The S features the basic infotainment features, such as Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free, which see only minimal improvement up the range. It features the smaller 15-inch steel wheels and lacks any sort of power accessories.

The SV upgrades convenience to what many would consider being the bare minimum in a modern truck, adding electric windows and central door locks. It also improves the wheels to the more functional 16-inch alloys.

The Desert Runner trim significantly improves performance with off-road tires, improved shock absorbers, and fog lights.

The Pro-4X is the off-road champ in this range, with Bilstein shocks, off-road tires and 4X4 as standard. It also adds a few comfort features, such as dual-zone climate control.

The top-tier SL is all about comfort, incorporating the Pro-4X's Premium package as standard features, as well as a Rockford Fosgate audio system. The larger 18-inch alloy wheels and leather-appointed seats mean you will be traveling in style.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
S
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
5-Speed Manual
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$19,090
SV
2.5-liter Inline-4 Gas
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
5-Speed Manual
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$23,960
Desert Runner
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$26,400
PRO-4X
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Four-Wheel Drive
$33,240
SL
4.0-liter V6 Gas
5-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$34,110
See All 2019 Nissan Frontier Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The Nissan Frontier offers several packages throughout its model range aimed at improving utility and comfort. The Value Truck package for the Frontier SV will cost you an additional $1,890 and adds fog lights, rear parking sensors, a sliding bed extender, spray-in bedliner, adjustable cargo tie-downs, a Class IV trailer hitch, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and two extra speakers. These features are all standard on the Pro-4X and SL. The Premium package for the Pro-4X will set you back $2,100 and includes leather-appointed seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, a moonroof, a roof rack with crossbars, and heated mirrors. Most of these features come standard on the top-tier SL.

What Nissan Frontier Model Should I Buy?

The model you choose to buy depends very much on your reason for purchasing a compact pickup. If you are looking for good work utility where hauling cargo will be a commonplace requirement, but you still want good value for money, then the Crew Cab SV with the standard V6 engine and rear-wheel-drive would be the logical choice. However, if pure fun in the mud is your goal, the Pro-4X is hands-down the best choice. The improved shocks and high-grade tires make handling rocky roads a breeze. And you get the choice of adding the Premium package if you want that extra level of comfort while enjoying getting your undercarriage dirty.

2019 Nissan Frontier Comparisons

2019 Nissan Frontier
2019 Nissan Frontier

2019 Nissan Frontier vs Toyota Tacoma

Much like the Frontier, Toyota's Tacoma comes in a plethora of configurations. It, too, offers a four-cylinder or V6 engine as well as two or four-wheel-drive. However, both the Tacoma's engine configurations offer more power than their counterparts on the Frontier. As if this weren't enough, Toyota has equipped its mid-size contender with a host of off-road-focused features to make it even more rugged than the Frontier. But don't let its rough-and-tumble attitude fool you; the Tacoma is tech-savvy too, with basic driver-assistance and safety features included as standard, and smartphone integration available at higher trims. Sadly, it suffers from similar ride comfort problems as the Frontier, but this is a small price to pay for its utility. With a slightly higher price tag of $25,850 to $42,960, the Toyota Tacoma is still a better deal than its outdated rival.

See Toyota Tacoma Review

2019 Nissan Frontier vs Chevrolet Colorado

With a starting price of $21,300, the Chevy Colorado has already declared itself the rival of the Frontier as a low-cost mid-size pickup. With truly monstrous power coming from both it's in-line four (200 hp and 191 lb-ft) and V6 (308 hp and 275 lb-ft) motors, the Colorado is not to be taken lightly. This power gives Chevy's truck the power to tow up to 7,700 lbs, putting all its rivals to shame. And even with this raw power, the Colorado handles well and doesn't get choppy when put through its paces on the road. This little powerhouse might not be as spacious as some of its rivals, nor as capable in the rough, but it's pure brawn, matched with some brainy features, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, make the Chevy Colorado a clearly superior choice over the Frontier for day-to-day driving.

See Chevrolet Colorado Review

2019 Nissan Frontier vs Ford Ranger

While not a totally new design, the 2019 Ford Ranger is new to the US market. Unlike Nissan, Ford has taken the time to work on its long-time contender in the mid-size pickup segment. Although not entirely as fresh as it may seem, since it is based on the 2015 Ranger that was sold internationally, the 2019 Ranger still features many of the modern features that the Frontier is lacking. Chief among these are key safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and lane-keeping assist. Add to this the fact that the Ranger incorporates convenience amenities that buyers have come to expect, such as smartphone compatibility and Wi-Fi, and it makes the Frontier seem like a fossil. Although the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine only puts out 270 hp, the Ranger still manages to surpass the Frontier's hauling capacity by 1,000 lbs. With a reasonable price tag ranging from $24,300 to $38,565, this scrappy contender is in a league above the Frontier.

See Ford Ranger Review

Nissan Frontier Popular Comparisons

2019 Nissan Frontier Video Review