Review: 2022 Nissan Frontier is still the truckiest of pickups
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
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 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).
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