Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
Updated: Apr 13
Nissan has sold midsize pickup trucks in North America for more than 35 years, and for 2021 they are giving the Frontier a total makeover. We're here to tell you if it has the tools to shake the top sellers in this category. The Nissan Frontier is manufactured at the Canton, MS plant and has an MSRP of $51,748.
As always, we'll start with the exterior looks of the Frontier, this is a complete redesign, and we can't say it enough; it looks much more modern. The previous generation dated back to 2004 with a refresh in 2008; the truck looked ancient. With the LED running lights, the new Nissan logo with the orange underlining, the new PRO-4X sticker design, the FRONTIER name printed on the tailgate, this new pickup from Nissan is good-looking and deserves 5 stars in our opinion. We weren't sure about the beige colour, whereas the rest of the exterior warrants an excellent score for style. The wheels also look good with the orange accents; our test model was mounted on offroad tires since the PRO-4X is the offroad version.
Inside the cabin, the Nissan Frontier is less modern and groundbreaking than the exterior but still feels nice. In front of the driver, the dashboard isn't fully digital like the F-150, but it displays all the info you need starting with the smaller screen flanked by the two typical gauges. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and has all the buttons you need for the media and cruise control. Moving to the infotainment system and middle of the truck, you will find all the basics again. First of all, we like that the climate controls are independent of the center screen; this makes it easier to change the temperature while driving. It may just be a detail, but the controls for heated seats are positioned a little too low for our liking. On the left side of the climate controls, you will find the locking rear differential for more challenging situations. Going back to the screen, the 9-inch touchscreen is a decent size for everyday use with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. We had this larger screen on our test version, and it worked pretty well, although it isn't the biggest in the market. We liked that Nissan included both types of USB; there's also a wireless charger so anyone can juice up its device. The Fender sound system was also pretty good in this truck, the sound is loud and clear, and the bass is good enough.
As for the rest of the interior, this pickup truck is pretty roomy with this crew cab configuration. Front passengers have plenty of space to sit and enjoy the higher view. We would've liked a step to help the passengers climb into the truck on the exterior. Even in the crew cab configuration, the rear passengers will be tight. The seating position is awkward because you can't adjust the seat's backrest except to attach a car seat. Installing isn't the easiest with the ISOFIX ports hidden and no easily removable panel to access it. There is some hidden storage space under the seat; this is a great idea to hide some precious belongings you can't leave in the bed. A quick word on the Zero Gravity seats, they provide decent lumbar support, and the PRO-4X printed on them is pretty cool.
Before getting to the performance part, let's discuss the bed. When you open the tailgate, you will find an assisted tailgate for the first time on the Frontier, so it doesn't slam on the frame. Then, you will find inside the bed the Frontier Utili-track Channel System, which includes neat features like cleats to fix your tools or other cargo firmly, so they don't fly all over. You can move those cleats using the built-in channels; the rest of the bed is pretty straightforward. Payload capacity is rated at 1,230lbs by the manufacturer on our test model, giving you plenty of leeway for whatever you'd need to transport.
As for the driving experience, the first thing that struck us was the unnecessary heavyweight in the steering wheel. When you start the truck and want to leave your house, you instantly notice it, especially at lower speeds. We found it annoying since the other trucks don't have this characteristic. Otherwise, the Nissan Frontier drives like any other truck in this segment. This PRO-4X version adds 3 skid plates underneath to protect all the mechanical components, Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differential, exclusive wheels, and tires that look pretty cool. You can also monitor your offroad adventure in real-time with cameras located on the vehicle, accessible on the center screen, and you can look at your pitch and roll with the off-road menu in the gauge cluster. All sorts of goodies that offroaders will be pleased with are now available!
There's plenty of power coming from the 3.8L V6, which produces 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, one of the most powerful. This engine is coupled with a new 9-speed automatic transmission that works great and almost perfectly selects each gear for the situation. Obviously, you won't win many drag races, but this engine is reliable and doesn't run out of steam when you need the extra effort. We said earlier that the payload capacity on the PRO-4X crew cab was 1,230lbs; the overall towing capacity is rated at 6,260lbs which is right in the middle of the competition. On the road, you get the jumpiness at high speeds, the body roll in curves, the braking that feels approximative sometimes, all things expected in a pickup that aren't particularly worse or better in the Frontier. Overall, this is a much more competitive pickup from the Japanese automaker than the model it replaces. Unfortunately, the fuel efficiency was a bit disappointing. Nissan announced 13.7L/100km in the city and 10.6L/100km on the highway; we averaged over 15L/100km in the city and 13L on the highway.
The Nissan Frontier is back with a bang. This new generation will attract buyers with its refreshing look and good performance overall. Nissan is making a statement with this pickup truck: we're bringing back our truck into relevancy.
Nissan has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Nissan Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.