by Jay Traugott
The last time an all-new Nissan Frontier was revealed was - wait for it - in 2004. From 2005 until 2021 the Frontier mid-size truck has remained on sale mostly unchanged, despite a few facelifts. The biggest update occurred for 2020 when it received an all-new engine, which has been carried over to the new generation.
The 2022 Frontier is all-new from the ground up but designers made sure to acknowledge certain styling traits from old Nissan pickups. Nissan is certainly no stranger to the world of midsize trucks; it has six decades of experience going back to the Datsun 220. Today, however, this segment is heating up again as rival brands have launched impressive trucks of their own. Nissan's entry aims shakes things up a bit and those looking for a highly capable truck packed with standard features for a decent price will be extremely pleased by what they find here. The new Frontier might turn out to be the segment's unexpected disruptor.
The 2022 Frontier's chiseled good looks are inspired by the Nissan Hardbody, a truck the automaker built and raced in the 1980s and 90s. The aggressive front end features a huge grille and prominent hood. The split headlight design is being applied to other new Nissans as well. The wide and raised stance, high shoulder lines, and vertical fenders further contribute to the bold new look, especially compared to the old truck's softer, more rounded appearance.
The rear end continues with the machine look with the taillights appearing as if they're bolted into the body. Even the rear fenders have a muscular look to emphasize toughness. A few new paint colors include Tactical Green Metallic and Boulder Grey Pearl. A 5-foot bed is standard on all Crew Cab models, while Crew Cab SV Long Wheelbase models can be equipped with a 6-foot bed, which is standard on all King Cab trims.
Buyers who opt for the off-road-focused 2WD and 4WD Pro-4X off-road-focused variants will be further treated to standard LED headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights, and hot Lava Red body accents.
While some automakers take chances with interior designs, Nissan played it safe here, something traditional truck buyers will appreciate. Nissan's familiar Zero Gravity seats come as standard, as does the best-in-class 9-inch color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Another nice standard feature is the 7-inch configurable Advanced Driver Assist Display. Optional connectivity features include a WiFi hotspot and two 110-volt outlets with 400-watt capability. A Fender Premium Audio system with nine speakers is available on higher trims.
Designers took inspiration from outdoor adventure gear by way of the trim accents throughout the cabin. There's plenty of storage too, specifically 4 liters in the center console, 5.7- and 6.5 liters in the rear- and front-door-pockets, respectively. Outdoor noise is mostly muted thanks to more insulation and front-door acoustic laminated glass.
The only engine on offer is a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6, which is carried over from last year, rated at 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic transmission routes power to either the front or all four wheels. Nissan says it retuned the Frontier's hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering gear while the front and rear suspensions provide best-in-class ride and handling, on- and off-road.
4WD models have a shift-on-the-fly system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes. These variants can additionally be equipped with a limited-slip system that can improve power transfer to the wheels. Regardless of drive variant or trim, all Frontiers receive standard Hill Start Assist, while Hill Descent Control is standard on 4WD models. Serious off-road enthusiasts will be attracted to the PRO-4X variant thank to its standard Bilstein off-road shocks, electronic locking differential, and underbody skid plates. Total towing capacity is 6,720 pounds when properly equipped. Trailer Sway Control is another handy new standard system.
Safety-conscious buyers will find Intelligent Forward Collision Warning as standard, but many will opt for the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of safety systems and Traffic Sign Recognition. Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor, complete with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road mode, is also available.
Nissan has not revealed pricing at this time though sales will begin this summer. The midsize truck segment is quite competitive with the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, and Toyota Tacoma enjoying strong sales. The Jeep Gladiator, while classified as a midsize, is not for everyone and is quite expensive compared to the rest. The Honda Ridgeline, heavily updated for 2021, does not boast the traditional body-on-frame setup, but comes well-equipped.
The 2022 Nissan Frontier is long overdue and it remains to be seen whether it can grab sales away from any of the above competitors. In any case, the new Frontier appears to check all the right boxes and those seeking a highly capable and reliable midsize truck should definitely take a closer look.