Northern Frontier Premium Windshield Sun Shade – First Drive 2022 Nissan Frontier First Drive Review | Back from the wild You can’t test a new Frontier every decade

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Nissan should produce a new midsize truck more often. Turns out the company is good at it. Waiting 17 years for a new Frontier is a pretty unforgivable amount of time — yes, we last had a new Frontier in 2004. That doesn’t take anything away from the new 2022 Nissan Frontier, though, because it’s damn good to pick up.

Northern Frontier Premium Windshield Sun Shade

Northern Frontier Premium Windshield Sun Shade

How good, you ask? After a first spin behind the wheel, it’s safe to say that the new Frontier is officially on even ground with every other midsize pickup, and it’s reaching for a spot on the podium.

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Nissan kicked off this pickup truck renaissance with a full-scale redesign. The truck looks like a knockout in photos, but looks even better up close and in person. You can’t go wrong with either the standard model or the PRO-4X when it comes to aesthetics. They all have a tall, square nose with a large but still fairly large grille. It looks mean and capable, but not like it’s going to rip your head off and scare little kids. Bold and bright daytime running lights give it the modern edge a 2022 pickup truck deserves, with LED headlights available starting with the SV. And flared fenders help complete the package in a rugged way that only the Toyota Tacoma has managed to capture. And yes, there’s no denying that the Frontier resembles the Taco, but don’t mistake it for a carbon copy. Put them side by side and the Frontier will have a distinctive look and shape.

This modern look deserves a modern powertrain to match. Like most in this segment, the Nissan has a big, naturally aspirated V6 ready to go. Specifically, it is a 3.8-liter V6 engine that develops 310 horsepower and 281 Nm of torque. That’s technically more horsepower than anything else in the segment, but don’t get too excited – it’s about the same here when it comes to straight-line speed. The engine was actually dropped into the previous generation Frontier one model year before it made its way into the new truck, and we’re glad to see it again. Mated to this V6 is a nine-speed automatic transmission that was pulled from the Titan.

Admittedly, to Nissan’s detriment, it chose northern Utah and an elevation of more than 6,000 feet to launch the Frontier in its first drives. There’s no telling how strong this engine will be closer to sea level, but acceleration isn’t fast in the mountains. As it stands, the power in the low and midrange is quite mild, and the forward thrust only starts to get stronger towards the top end.

The nine-speed engine is a wonderful partner when you’re just casually cruising around town, but it’s not as smooth and smart when you’re asked to change multiple gears for a quick maneuver or a steep hill. There were a few rough changes, and the speed with which it responded to throttle pressure was a bit disappointing. It’s here

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One area that offers little disappointment is its new ride and handling, thanks to an improved frame and new suspension components. And yes, we mean an upgrade over its 17-year-old predecessor and not all-new—you can read a deep dive here about Nissan’s justifications for heavily modifying the truck’s current bones instead of building an entirely new platform. It is equipped with new urethane shock absorbers, new hydraulic cab mounts (claimed 80% reduction in road vibration), a larger front anti-roll bar and a recently added rear anti-roll bar. The steering is still hydraulic, but has been retuned to be 16% faster than before. Plus, the PRO-4X and PRO-X models are equipped with new off-road Bilstein shocks. Non-PRO models get newly developed ZF shock absorbers.

All of these additions have transformed the Frontier into a top pick-up to drive and handle. Potholes and rough roads are handled with pleasure — yes, it drives better than the Tacoma. This applies to both Bilstein-equipped and ZF-equipped pickups with shock absorbers, as the difference in road handling is minimal. Plus, it doesn’t fall apart when you decide to throw it on a twisty mountain road, which you’re likely to do if you’re using the Frontier for its intended adventure purposes. Steering is quite laborious at low speeds — no modern variable-ratio electric racks here! But it comes into its own when you get up to speed, and it’s especially good when you’re off-road.

Speaking of which, Nissan let us go on a 45-minute off-road course that took us up and down mountains. It was quite a rough experience, enough that we spent most of the time in 4LO with the PRO-4X electronic locking rear diff locked. Here we have to try all the other PRO-4X goodies. Nissan’s off-road model (which is also the one that comes with the most standard features/technology) includes those Bilstein shocks, four skid plates, 17-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, the aforementioned electronic locking rear differential, and off-camera for roads. The lower front bumper has been removed. The PRO-X is the two-wheel-drive version that drops the skid plates but gives you extras for looks, Bilstein shocks and all-terrain tires.

Northern Frontier Premium Windshield Sun Shade

All of the above are great things, but the Frontier’s compact size makes it so fun and capable on tight trails like this. With an overall length of 210.2 inches, the Frontier remains the smallest midsize pickup. This means that it is easier to set up on the trails and ultimately more fun and less stressful to go off-road. Even visibility over the muscular hood is excellent. The new steering shock absorber is able to reduce the harshness of the impact when bouncing over large rocks. A slightly smaller turning radius would be nice, but it’s not bad enough that any tight turns on the course require pulling out and trying again. These Bilsteins offer excellent damping and rebound on hard hits and keep the truck’s motion under control. Our biggest gripe is with the trail cameras – Nissan automatically turns them off if you’re going faster than a slow crawl, and even when they’re on, they’re essentially quality cameras.

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While the dimensions and supports are familiar from the old familiar, the new cabin is on a completely different level. You would hope after 17 years. Nissan fits its Zero Gravity seats as standard, which are extremely comfortable and supportive. The new cabin has all the luxury and amenities you’d expect from a 2022 pickup. You get a modern dashboard design with an 8-inch (or optional 9-inch) infotainment touchscreen that runs Nissan’s latest software and even includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. The package includes a 7-inch display, and you can get as many as four USB ports, a wireless phone charger and seat/steering wheel heating. A host of driver assistance features are standard.

None of the other midsize trucks offer a particularly premium or even visually interesting interior besides the pricey Jeep Gladiator, so it’s not like the new Frontier has a lofty bar to clear. Yet it does just that. The PRO-4X is especially nice with its leather seats, leather steering wheel, plenty of red and orange accents and contrast stitching, but what elevates the Frontier’s interior above and beyond the competition is how refined it is. Nissan has installed acoustically laminated glass, added soundproofing and uses more noise-resistant carpet than before. All of this is immediately apparent in the quiet and serene cabin experience it provides. Even when the revs increase after long climbs, the engine noise is not overly intrusive. Add to the mix an affordable and quality Fender 10-speaker audio system and the Frontier is a wonderful commuter.

Still, you might be less compelled to tour the Frontier if maximum traction is a priority. For midsize body-on-frame trucks, the Frontier is last for maximum towing at 6,720 pounds. The Tacoma isn’t far ahead, but most of the competition weighs around 7,500 pounds. That’s not to say the Frontier won’t work for your needs, but other trucks could still make a difference if you’re hauling some extra heavy items. On the other hand, maximum payload is competitive in the middle of the pack at 1,610 pounds. It’s also super easy to reach into the bed from the side to grab items, even if you’re short.

One important note about the beds: Like the Ford Ranger, the Frontier’s bed lengths are tied to the cabin style. The 6-foot bed is exclusive to the extended King Cab and its ridiculous micro rear seat, while the Crew Cab, with plenty of rear legroom and headroom, can only be paired with a 5-foot bed. Tacoma and Chevy/GMC pickups offer long bed/crew cab combinations.

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Nissan has kept the price of the new Frontier under wraps until now, probably because it wanted to show us how good the truck was before hitting us with numbers we’re not used to seeing next to a Frontier. The cheapest version is now the S King Cab with rear wheels

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