2022 Nissan Frontier Review
Introduction - Find the best Nissan deals!
The midsize pickup truck segment seemingly left to wither away a decade ago by major players such as Dodge, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford has come roaring back. To maximize profits, some automakers concentrated on high-margin full-size pickups that cost little more to build than midsize trucks but net much higher transaction prices.
What changed? Well, not everyone can afford a $50,000-$70,000 full-size pickup. Also, a new crop of younger buyers with less disposable income, fewer toys that need to be towed to recreation sites, and smaller houses with less garage space to stash full-size rigs came into their peak vehicle-purchasing years.
Although considerably larger than their previous iterations, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon returned for 2015, and the Ford Ranger came back four years after that. The Toyota Tacoma, which never left the market and remained the segment sales leader, got a major mid-cycle update for 2016. Jeep sired the Gladiator, its first pickup in decades, from Wrangler and Ram pickup parts in 2020. For the 2021 model year, the Pilot-derived Honda Ridgeline got a mid-cycle facelift with a more rugged-looking front end. That left the Frontier, last updated in 2005, to hustle for buyers with a 16-year-old design.
Now, it's Nissan's turn. The 2022 Frontier lineup consists of the base S, mid-level SV, rear-drive-only PRO-X, and range-topping 4-wheel-drive PRO-4X. The S and SV models can be configured with 2- or 4-wheel drive (2WD or 4WD). The PRO-X replaces last year's 2WD Desert Runner model.
As with the previous version of the Frontier, there are two cab configurations: a 4-passenger King Cab with half-width, rear-hinged doors and occasional-use rear jump seats and a 5-passenger Crew Cab with four regular-size, front-hinged doors, and a full-width 3-across bench seat. The King Cab is only available with base S and mid-level SV trims. No 2-door regular cab version is available.
There are two pickup bed lengths: a 5-footer standard with the Crew Cab and a 6-foot version that comes with all King Cabs and is an option with the SV-trim Crew Cab.
Aside from the carryover 3.8-liter V6 engine, 9-speed automatic transmission (both new for 2020), and part-time shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive, the 2022 Frontier gets a significant makeover. The steering and suspension gain refinements to improve handling, and new hydraulic body mounts work to improve the ride and minimize cab "jiggle." Newly standard trailer sway control can selectively apply the brakes to improve towing confidence. Nissan's Safety Shield 360's available driver-assistance features expand, and the Frontier's Nissan Connect infotainment technology sees considerable upgrades.
The most dramatic change, however, is related to the new Frontier's ruggedly handsome exterior. Set with a massive grille, wide stance, and muscular flanks, its square-jawed exterior sheet metal owes nothing to the previous iteration of the Frontier or the full-size Titan pickup.
What Owners Say About the Midsize Pickup Segment - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
The Nissan Frontier competes in the Midsize Pickup segment. According to data collected from verified buyers for the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 85 percent of midsize pickup buyers are male (vs. 60 percent for the entire automotive industry), and the median age of a midsize pickup buyer is 56 years (same as the industry).
As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Midsize Pickup segment in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:
- Exterior styling
- Driving feel
- Feeling of safety
- Setting up and starting
- Interior design
- Infotainment system
- Driving comfort
- Getting in and out
- Fuel economy
What Our Independent Expert Says About the Nissan Frontier - Find the best Nissan deals!
In the sections that follow, our independent expert provides an analysis of a 2022 Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab equipped with the following options:
- Tech package (lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, sonar rear parking assist, automatic rear braking, high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition)
- PRO Convenience package (spray-in bed liner, adjustable bed tie-down cleats, 120-volt outlets in bed and center console, heated steering wheel and front seats, heated outside mirrors, bed lighting, remote start, trailer hitch and harness, around-view monitor with moving-object detection, wireless charger)
- PRO Premium package (Fender 10-speaker premium audio, leather seat coverings, a universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, premium door trim, console stitching, tilt-and-slide sunroof, and beadlock 17-inch alloy wheels)
- Floor mats
The price of the test vehicle came to $44,340, including the $1,175 destination charge.
Getting In and Getting Comfortable - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
The rugged vibe of the new Frontier's exterior extends to its cabin. The PRO-4X rides tall, but its step-in height isn't so great that getting in is an issue for most drivers. However, Nissan sells dealer-installed side rails with individual steps for the front and rear rows for shorter-statured drivers that may want them. Standard hand grips on the inside of the windshield pillars and the Frontier's console sides help here.
Inside, the Frontier is a mix of outdoorsy toughness and tech. Hard-plastic trim is predominant, but what is there looks and feels durable. Flanked by the large speedometer and tachometer, a driver-selectable display can call up driver-assist system status, off-road data, navigation and audio system particulars, fuel economy, and other information.
All Frontier trims get Nissan's Zero Gravity front bucket seats, designed with a bottom cushion that has an initial layer of low-density foam passengers sink into, backed up by a firm seat structure that cradles the lower back and spine for good support. The PRO-X and SV trims feature a power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar. The Frontier's front seat-bottom cushions are some 50mm higher off the floor than those in the Toyota Tacoma, making for a more natural knees-forward (instead of knees-up as in the Tacoma) driving posture.
The PRO-X and all Crew Cab models get a three-across rear seat that can handle a trio of full-grown adults, while lesser trims with the King Cab's tiny second row make do with jump seats that are only suitable for children, pets, and in-cab storage. Speaking of storage, there's plenty of it in the large center console and door pockets, with more available in bins located under the flip-up rear seat bottom cushions in both cab styles.
Standard seat coverings are durable-looking cloth on all models, but the PRO-X can be optioned with leather hides. Also optional are a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and, in Crew Cabs, a tilt-and-slide sunroof.
All but the base S trim Crew Cab also include a sliding rear window.
Standard amenities on all 2022 Frontier trims include dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton start, remote keyless entry, basic cruise control, and power windows, mirrors, and door locks. There is no stripper, price-leader model.
2022 Nissan Frontier Nissan Connect Infotainment System Review - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
A lot has changed since the Frontier was last redesigned for the 2005 model year, first and foremost being how a driver accesses media and takes it along on the road. Back then, Bluetooth hands-free access to cellphones and music streaming was just beginning. Also, navigation displays were small and rudimentary, and audio system screens were often monochromatic and rarely interactive.
For 2022, Nissan is attempting to leapfrog the competition in the midsize pickup segment by equipping the new Frontier with a large, colorful, high-definition infotainment touchscreen that sits prominently in the center of the dash. Features of the new Nissan Connect system include:
- Standard wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- One each USB-A and USB-C port in front console
- Additional USB-A and USB-C ports in the rear seat area of Crew Cab
- 8-inch infotainment touchscreen in S and SV trims
- Voice recognition for audio and navigation
- Siri Eyes Free
- Hands-free text-messaging assistant
- 6-speaker AM/FM stereo with a 3-month trial of SiriusXM satellite radio
- Optional Fender premium audio system in SV trim
Additionally, PRO-X and PRO-4X trims come with the following content:
- 9-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Embedded navigation
- In-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot
- 10-speaker AM/FM stereo with a 3-month trial of SiriusXM
- Optional Fender premium audio system
- Optional console-mounted wireless device charger
The new screens offer sharp resolution and vibrant colors. Head-unit controls are simple and straightforward, with a pair of rotary analog knobs for volume and tuning that you can operate wearing gloves. A row of shortcut buttons flanking the display enables quick access to frequently used functions without the need to scroll through multiple screen menus, helping drivers keep their eyes on the road.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are easy to set up, following clear and logical onscreen prompts. Even though they use wired instead of wireless technology, Nissan thoughtfully designed a sizeable open console bin under the dash. It's perfect for stashing a cell phone and placed both USB-A and USB-C ports nearby, eliminating the need to cobble together adapters depending on what type of phone you have.
The 10-speaker Fender audio system is new this year and brings a clear, immersive sound to the Frontier's large cabin.
What It's Like to Drive the 2022 Nissan Frontier - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
Under the new Frontier's hood is the sweet, 3.8-liter V6 engine first used in the 2020 model. The naturally aspirated V6 makes a midsize pickup-best 310 horsepower. It also develops a healthy 281 pound-feet of torque, which is more than any non-diesel midsize pickup and all gas-powered competitors but the Ford Ranger's standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo 4-cylinder. The direct-injected Nissan V6 features variable valve timing and lift for a broad, flexible power band and good throttle response over a wide range of engine and road speeds.
As it has since 2020, the Frontier's V6 pairs with a 9-speed automatic transmission that provides a wide range of ratios for around-town and highway operation. Shifts are quick and smooth with little or no delay when a downshift is required to maintain momentum or accelerate. The only powertrain combination offered is right-sized for the job.
No manual transmission is available in the Frontier. If you want to shift your own gears in a midsize pickup, your options are limited to either the Toyota Tacoma or Jeep Gladiator with a gas V6.
Trailer towing wasn't part of the test, but the Frontier is rated to tow up to 6,720 pounds. A Class-IV trailer hitch and wiring harness are part of a $1,990 Convenience package that also brings a surround-view monitor, wireless charger, heated front seats and steering wheel, remote engine start, a spray-in bed liner, bed lighting, two 120-volt outlets, and adjustable tie-down cleats. The maximum payload is 1,610 pounds. All 2022 Frontiers have standard trailer sway control.
On the road, the PRO-4X felt confident in its skin. It tackled long uphill grades without working up a sweat. Steering effort was on the firm side but precise and easy to position the truck in the lane without constant corrections. The Frontier's hydraulically boosted steering had better feedback than in some competitors with electrically boosted steering.
There was less understeer and lean on curves than expected, no doubt aided by the rear anti-roll bar that Nissan fits in all Crew Cab models. The meaty PRO-4X 265/70R16 all-terrain tires had decent grip and were less noisy than expected for such an open-tread design—chalk part of that up to good body sealing and the use of acoustic glass upfront.
Another advancement is the use of hydraulic cab mounts in the Frontier, which substantially reduce the typical on-pavement jiggle that occupants can experience in a body-on-frame pickup truck.
The PRO-4X upgrades from traditional twin-tube dampers to Bilstein monotube units. These dampers provide an agreeable ride-and-handling balance without feeling overly jouncey over washboard surfaces, with little to none of the fore/aft buckboard-like pitching of some stiffly sprung 4x4 pickups. The Frontier's standard 4-wheel-disc brakes (with larger front rotors in Crew Cab versions) had a crisp response and delivered reassuring stopping power from highway speeds without fade.
The PRO-4X's standard part-time 4-wheel-drive system is controlled with a simple, rotary dash switch. It offers a shift-on-the-fly manual selection between 2WD High and 4WD High range. A 6-mile off-road trek over a fresh trail in the Wasatch Mountains provided a chance to sample the system. The two-track was slow and, in places, steep enough that I stopped, put the transmission in Neutral, and then engaged 4WD low range with its 2.717:1 reduction. With toaster oven-sized rocks and loose sand to contend with, I engaged the PRO-4X's electronic-locking rear differential to be able to keep moving up steeper, more slippery uphill sections without spinning the tires.
Heading down those same steep slopes, engaging hill-descent control allowed the Frontier to get to the bottom without gaining too much speed or heating the brakes. The off-road forward camera, usually a great help when cresting steep hills, was of little use due to the dust that coated the camera lens as well as the windshield.
Despite the PRO-4X's generous 9.4 inches of ground clearance, the truck did grind against some of the larger rocks and boulders encountered. Aside from spine-tingling scraping sounds, these were taken in stride by the truck's steel engine oil-pan, transfer-case, and fuel-tank skid plates and the under-bumper front steel-and-aluminum skid plate.
The Frontier's outward visibility is a mixed bag. As with most other pickups, the tall dash and towering power-dome hood mean that shopping carts, tricycles, pets, and small children near the front bumper may not be easily visible. There is a front camera in the top-of-the-line PRO-4X trim, but it's geared for off-roading, and its image is displayed in the center-stack monitor only when in 4-Low range.
However, the view out the side windows is much better, thanks to free-standing side mirrors and a front door beltline and windows that dip down, Ford F-150-style, at the front. A standard reversing camera with trajectory lines helps show the way when backing.
Nissan Safety Shield 360 Review - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
Nissan's Safety Shield 360 forms the basis of the Frontier's available advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Aside from standard forward-collision warning, automatic emergency forward braking with pedestrian detection, driver-alertness monitor, reversing camera, and a rear door alert that reminds the driver to check the back seat (ostensibly for children or pets) after shutting off the engine if any rear door was opened during the last key cycle, the bulk of the ADAS are bundled in a $990 Technology package that's available on all trims. It includes:
- Lane departure warning
- Blind-spot warning
- Rear cross-traffic warning
- Sonar rear park assist
- Rear automatic emergency braking
- High-beam assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic sign recognition (PRO grades only)
There is no lane-keeping or lane-centering system as offered in most other 2022 cars and SUVs because the Frontier's proven but straightforward, hydraulically boosted mechanical rack-and-pinion steering has no electric motor to assist with steering corrections. When turned on via the ADAS menu in the standard 7-inch driver-configurable dash display, the system simply emits a warning when the truck wanders outside the lane markings.
The PRO-4X also comes with a bird's-eye around-view monitor with moving-object detection and an off-road mode. The latter provides a forward camera view when moving slowly in 4WD-Low range.
Nissan offers rear automatic emergency braking on a number of its cars, including the compact Sentra sedan. The system proved its worth in the Frontier when backing up and turning around off-road. It detected a bumper-height tree stump I didn't see with the reversing camera and slammed on the brakes before the truck and tree stump could make (expensive) contact.
2022 Nissan Frontier FAQ - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
How much cargo space does the 2022 Nissan Frontier have?
The 5-foot-long bed that's standard in all 2022 Frontier Crew Cab models has 40.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The 6-foot bed that's standard in King Cab models and optional in Crew Cabs with SV trim offers 49.2 cubic feet. According to Nissan, both beds are 1.4 inches deeper from rail to floor than the ones in last year's Frontier, netting 7 percent increased cargo room.
All 2022 Frontiers feature a tailgate damped for both opening and closing. It's lockable, as well.
Optional features for the bed include a 120-volt outlet, below-the-rail LED lighting, and adjustable cleats on sliding tracks. A spray-in bed liner is a factory option. Available as a dealer-installed accessory is a flip-down step that Nissan retailers can install under the rear bumper corner.
Does the 2022 Nissan Frontier get good gas mileage?
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, the 2022 Nissan Frontier returns 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving when equipped with 2WD and 19 mpg with 4WD. This stays the same whether it's the King Cab or 130-pounds-or-so heavier Crew Cab. It's unchanged from the 2020-21 Frontier.
The abbreviated 70-mile test loop in the PRO-4X Crew Cab included six miles of low-range operation over a rugged, rock-strewn off-road section with steep grades and paved highway segments at 5,000-6,000 feet elevation in unseasonably hot summer temperatures. These conditions resulted in an indicated average of 14.5 mpg. The Frontier's 21-gallon fuel tank can provide about 300 miles of range with this sort of usage. However, in less strenuous daily use, as when cruising around town on pavement and near posted highway speeds, the Frontier should deliver fuel economy closer to its EPA-estimated 19-20 mpg combined rating, which would increase cruising range to about 400 miles.
Is the 2022 Nissan Frontier safe?
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had released crash-test results for the 2022 Nissan Frontier as this review was published.
How much is the 2022 Nissan Frontier?
Prices for the 2022 Nissan Frontier range from $27,840 for the base 2WD S trim King Cab/short-wheelbase configuration to $37,240 for the top-of-the-line 4WD PRO-4X Crew Cab version. Four-wheel drive is a $3,200 upcharge for King Cab S and SV trims, $3,000 for Crew Cab S and SV trims, and is standard with the PRO-4X. The destination charge has just increased to $1,175.
What are the 2022 Nissan Frontier competitors?
The Ford Ranger ranks highest in the Midsize Pickup segment in the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS). The Chevrolet Colorado and the Honda Ridgeline are the next highest-ranked models.
In the 2020 APEAL Study, the Honda Ridgeline ranks highest in the Midsize Pickup segment. The Ford Ranger and the GMC Canyon are the next highest-ranked models.
Other competitors to the 2022 Frontier include the Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Gladiator, and Chevrolet Colorado.
Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Nissan deals!
Photo: Ron Sessions
As the latest, freshest entry among traditionally configured midsize pickups and one with the most powerful standard engine and largest available infotainment screen currently offered, the 2022 Nissan Frontier is sure to stir up buyer interest in the segment. It's been years since the Frontier was truly competitive among midsize trucks. The 2022 iteration should give the segment sales-leader Toyota Tacoma (overdue for a major update), Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and GMC Canyon a good run for the money.
Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.
The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.
No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2021 J.D. Power