2021 Nissan Frontier

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2021 Nissan Frontier Review: Ready To Work

The compact pickup has been around for over half a century, and it came from very humble beginnings in Japan, when Datsun, a brand owned by Nissan, brought over the 220 pickup. Since then, Nissan has been a key player in the small pickup market, offering down-to-earth, and ready-to-work trucks that place value on ruggedness and their willingness to get down and dirty. The 2021 Nissan Frontier is one such truck; it offers all the basics needed to make it a good choice for tradesman and construction types, and for 2021 is offered with an all-new 3.8-liter V6 engine producing a class-leading 310 horsepower, and also gets a brand new nine-speed automatic transmission. The mid-size Nissan Frontier is due to be replaced during 2021 and the new model will feature this same engine and transmission combination. With a low asking price and a rudimentary interior and safety spec, can the Frontier stand up to rivals such as the Ford Ranger?

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 6 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 6 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 7 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2021 Nissan Frontier Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Nissan Frontier?

Nissan has already shown the next-generation 2022 Frontier and its launch in the USA is due to happen this year. Given this situation, Nissan has opted not to change anything on the last-of-the-last 2021 model.

Pros and Cons

  • Refined and powerful new V6 engine
  • Modern nine-speed transmission
  • Base model is good value for money
  • Hard-wearing interior
  • Not much in the way of luxury
  • Bouncy ride
  • Small back seats
  • Lack of driver-assistance features
  • No longer the cheapest midsize pickup around

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2021 Nissan Frontier Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.8L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.8L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.8L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Four-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Nissan Frontier Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Those interested in buying a 2021 Nissan Frontier must understand that, unlike most modern crossover SUVs and larger luxury trucks that attempt to emulate the handling and driving characteristics of a car, the Frontier has been designed as a workhorse and off-road companion. So with that in mind, let's proceed. The relatively compact Frontier is at home on tighter city roads where it handles low-speed undulations with ease. This also applies to going over rougher terrain while crawling along in 4WD. Things start to fall apart at higher speeds, however, as road noise starts to creep into the cabin, detracting from the truck's otherwise acceptable refinement. Steering is light, which is great for making tight maneuvers at the worksite or on technical off-roading sections but does nothing for driver confidence at higher speeds. The greatest test of its drive is off the beaten path, however; off-road, the Nissan Frontier shines. It swallows up bumps and ruts, and if you're really serious about conquering the great outdoors, the PRO-4X with its uprated suspension and off-road tires is the one to go for.

Verdict: Is the 2021 Nissan Frontier A Good truck?

Nissan might have introduced the first compact pickup truck to the US over 70 years ago, but when you look at the 2021 Frontier, you'd be left in disbelief at how much has changed. The Frontier in its current state is an old thing that offers very little in the way of comfort or even safety, and with no base engine, it's no longer the most affordable around either. But what makes it so appealing is its dependability and durability. Nissan has decided to give the current Frontier one last shot in the arm in the form of an all-new 3.8-liter V6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, but it struggles to make up for the plastic-clad interior, inferior infotainment system, and questionable safety levels. The basic interior will last a long time, but the tight back seats might be too small for some, and the bouncy ride quality will also put some people off.

2021 Nissan Frontier Comparisons

Toyota Tacoma
Ford Ranger Ford

2021 Nissan Frontier vs Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma comes from humble beginnings, but thanks to some extensive development, and a serious advertising budget, it is now one of America's favorite off-roading platforms and enjoys massive aftermarket support in the off-roading community. In terms of refinement, it is miles ahead of the Frontier but still lags behind proper premium offerings in the large-SUV market. Power is provided by a choice of two engines, namely the standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine producing 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.5-liter V6 engine developing 278 hp and 265 lb-ft, both lower than the Frontier's output ratings. Power is sent to either the rear or all four wheels. We like the fact that the Tacoma's interior is straightforward and easy to use, and it's impressive cargo capacity. Unlike the Frontier, there's a good amount of safety tech on board, and most importantly, it is very capable off-road. On the other hand, the interior is a bit tight, and the base engine is hopelessly underpowered. If it were up to us, we'd still have the Toyota.

See Toyota Tacoma Review

2021 Nissan Frontier vs Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is a popular mid-size pickup that is slowly clawing back some market share from the likes of the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado. The 2021 car is powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, which sends its power to the rear or all four wheels via a ten-speed automatic transmission. The Ranger has only been around since 2019 in America, but the platform is essentially almost a decade old in international markets, which puts it on a relatively equal footing with the Nissan in terms of age. The thing we like about the Ranger is its powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine that offers vastly superior pull, down low. The standard features on offer in the Ford Ranger are also miles ahead of what is on offer in the Frontier. There are also multiple configurations available. Things that aren't as impressive are the base infotainment system that feels outdated, the expensive options, and limited interior storage. Despite this, we would go with the Ford every time.

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