Automotive

Review: 2022 Nissan Frontier is still the truckiest of pickups

Review: 2022 Nissan Frontier i...
After 17 years, the Nissan Frontier finally gets a complete update
After 17 years, the Nissan Frontier finally gets a complete update
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After 17 years, the Nissan Frontier finally gets a complete update
1/10
After 17 years, the Nissan Frontier finally gets a complete update
Bodywork on the new 2022 Frontier is straighter, making for a taller, more truck-oriented look
2/10
Bodywork on the new 2022 Frontier is straighter, making for a taller, more truck-oriented look
The new Frontier is dimensionally very similar to the outgoing generation
3/10
The new Frontier is dimensionally very similar to the outgoing generation, making it one of the smallest midsized pickups on the market
The working end of the 2022 Nissan Frontier can haul up to 1,610 pounds of cargo
4/10
The working end of the 2022 Nissan Frontier can haul up to 1,610 pounds of cargo
The Frontier Pro-4X model is capable off-road in most medium difficulty situations
5/10
The Frontier Pro-4X model is capable off-road in most medium difficulty situations
Powering the 2022 Nissan Frontier is a nicely-tuned 3.8-liter V6 that outputs 310 horsepower
6/10
Powering the 2022 Nissan Frontier is a nicely-tuned 3.8-liter V6 that outputs 310 horsepower
The interior of the new Nissan Frontier sees the most change from the previous generation
7/10
The interior of the new Nissan Frontier sees the most change from the previous generation
The 2022 Nissan Frontier's rear seats are a big weak spot for the truck, offering little legroom and not much comfort
8/10
The 2022 Nissan Frontier's rear seats are a big weak spot for the truck, offering little legroom and not much comfort
The controls layout in the 2022 Frontier is very good with easy access to most everything
9/10
The controls layout in the 2022 Frontier is very good with easy access to most everything
The 2022 Frontier's infotainment, while sometimes clunky, is a big leap forward compared to the previous generation of the truck
10/10
The 2022 Frontier's infotainment, while sometimes clunky, is a big leap forward compared to the previous generation of the truck
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The Nissan Frontier has been a small-truck staple since it replaced the Hardbody small pickup back in the day. Its primary attribute, compared to other small trucks on the market, has always been its undeniable "doin’ truck stuff" attitude. The Frontier never got civilized, didn’t become "refined," and is still the rough-and-tumble, lovable pickup it's always been.

For its 2022 incarnation, the Frontier's only concession to refinement is a slightly better highway ride. The bad news for truck fans looking for a modern pickup? It's still the small-truck underdog in a fast-growing segment.

At a glance

  • Retains its rugged appeal with a more truck-like exterior
  • Interior changes were much needed, but still fall short
  • Solid capability for working as a midsized pickup truck
Bodywork on the new 2022 Frontier is straighter, making for a taller, more truck-oriented look
Bodywork on the new 2022 Frontier is straighter, making for a taller, more truck-oriented look

After 17 years of service in its second generation, the Nissan Frontier finally got a full redesign for the 2022 model year. A few of the attributes of the new Frontier were shown in last year’s model, which featured the same engine and transmission found in the new truck. The Frontier was well behind the curve, though, having existed in the complacency possible when there was almost no competition.

For years, the Nissan Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma were the only two small truck options in the game. But recently that has changed, with the rise of the newly-minted Chevrolet, Jeep and Ford pickup truck options and the significant appeal that car-based trucks like the Honda Ridgeline, Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz have brought. To remain in the game, Nissan had to do something.

The 2022 Frontier retains its rugged appeal, but becomes more straight-lined with less fender emphasis and flatter body paneling. The bed is more work-oriented in appearance, and the wheel wells are deeper to create a more rough-and-ready emphasis for the tires and wheels. The Pro-4X model has added emphasis in the red badging, prominent front skid plate, and ground clearance emphasis.

The greatest changes to the Frontier, however, are inside. Its seating is much more comfortable, the center stack and its buttons are far more modern, and the infotainment and switchgear is on par with the expectations of today. Nissan has also added several advanced driver’s aids and technologies to the Frontier, bringing it into compliance with the standards of today’s buyers ... but there are some flaws in this otherwise smooth skin.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier's rear seats are a big weak spot for the truck, offering little legroom and not much comfort
The 2022 Nissan Frontier's rear seats are a big weak spot for the truck, offering little legroom and not much comfort

The seating, while much improved, is still difficult to get comfortable in for longer drives. Between both the prototype model and the production model that we drove, this didn’t change and was true for people of varying sizes, not just the big and tall. It’s an odd problem, given that Nissan has a wonderful Zero Gravity Seating design in most of its vehicles.

A few of the on-screen menus for the infotainment system are also overly complex, with odd placement of options within. Those can be learned, however, and some of the interior’s features like the ample small item storage and easy control layout are bonuses that help mitigate those downers.

One big problem for the 2022 Frontier is its small back seat. The crew cab model features four doors and easy access to the interior, but the back seats are suitable only for smaller folks. Legroom is the biggest issue and is at a premium back there, though children and the family dog will do fine. The back seats do have some good features, like bottom cushions that fold up to allow a flatter floor, for hauling the family pony or a large mirror (maybe both if the pony is well-behaved).

The interior of the new Nissan Frontier sees the most change from the previous generation
The interior of the new Nissan Frontier sees the most change from the previous generation

Powering the 2022 Nissan Frontier is a nicely-tuned 3.8-liter V6 that outputs 310 horsepower (231 kW) running to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with four-wheel drive an option on most Frontier models. The vehicle is EPA-rated at 24 mpg (9.8 l/100km) on the highway, though our Pro-4X test models were unable to achieve that, with a 22 mpg (10.7 l/100km) highway average. The higher ground clearance, beefier tires, and added skid plates for the Pro-4X model are the culprits for its lower fuel economy returns.

As a pickup truck, the 2022 Frontier is about average in its capabilities, with a tow rating of up to 6,720 lb (3,048 kg) and a hauling capacity of 1,610 lb (730 kg) in its cargo bed. While not the highest ratings in the small pickup truck segment, those are real-world and usable numbers. The Frontier is good at towing and gives few complaints when hauling, with well-done lower gears for getting going under those loads. We do recommend Nissan’s sliding tie-down rails and spray-in bedliner options.

On the whole, the 2022 Nissan Frontier is still a good option in the midsized pickup truck segment. We like its no-nonsense approach to being a truck. Its US$28,340 starting price is competitive – the as-tested price for the production model we drove was about $40,000, with most of the available goodies included.

Product page: 2022 Nissan Frontier

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5 comments
5 comments
TechGazer
To me, a pick-up truck is an 8' long bed meant for hauling stuff, with a cab for driving it. This looks like an urban assault vehicle that isn't intended to haul anything in its bed.
Chase
I require a stick shift in my trucky truck. It's a deal breaker.
lesrof2evils
Nissan knows how to build great V6's and the 3.8 is fantastic in this truck is fantastic. I can pull by 3500lb camper at 70mph in 8th and often in 9th, and get better mileage than my old F250 did with no load at all.
BlueOak
At least Nissan & Toyota are finally figuring out how to make a vehicle not-ugly, even if still not wonderful.

Perhaps they were scared into action by Kia/Hyundai figuring out how to style a vehicle. whilst at the same time improving their quality.

Will be interesting to see what happens when K-H get serious about pickups.
Longtermthinker
I have a 2012 pro4X extended cab 4 door(little back doors) with an 8’ bed that does everything quite well, except not so good gas mileage (19) from the 4L. V6. It cost $26K new. This new truck looks good but does not appear any more capable for $40K. My next truck will be electric.