Ace of Base: 2017 Nissan Frontier S

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2017 nissan frontier s

There’s something innately endearing about a small pickup truck. Like an overeager puppy who yaps and seems to bounce instead of walk, fun-sized pick-‘em-ups just appear to be excited all the time. Come on! Come on! Let’s work! Let’s play! Are you ready? Can we play? Huh? Huh? Are you ready? How about now? To me, that’s the soundtrack of a small truck.

Nissan has been a large player in the small truck market ever since Methuselah was a boy, with the Hardbody (what a great name for a truck, by the way) finding itself on the nation’s gravel roads in a whole bunch of trims. In the Great White North, they even used the fantastic Hustler name. Hardbody Hustler. Tremendous.

For 2017, the Frontier remains largely unchanged, thanks to Nissan’s glacier-like redesign cycle and by dint of having spent all its development dollars on the new Titan. No matter. The Frontier is an honest looking truck, foregoing needless design flourishes like the LED mascara that appears on some of its competitors. Fancy headlights don’t help you haul dirt in a base-model truck.

A five-speed manual is hooked to 2.5-liter inline-four making 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Four valves per cylinder and direct injection separate it from the agricultural power mills that were unceremoniously dumped in small base trucks for years. Airbags are nestled in the dash, roof, and seats, while anti-lock discs on all four corners help get the driver and trailer whoa’d up.

Even in base, four-cylinder, row-you-own trim, the Frontier can tow a noteworthy 3760 pounds and haul nearly 1000 pounds of payload in its bed. There is technically room for four people in a King Cab Frontier, but the two in back will either have to be small children, hobbits, or people you don’t like. At least the seats are forward-facing now, unlike the vomit inducing centre-facing seats found for years in small trucks. El cheapo 15-inch tires on steelies means you won’t break the bank at replacement time. Go for the $0 Cayenne Red paint, a luxury when buyers of most other base trucks are forced to choose between fifty shades of grey.

If I’m docking it any points, it’s for Nissan’s failing to include a radio (!!!) with the base Frontier, although I guarantee you economies of scale dictate all wiring is in place, hiding behind the blank plate waiting for a quick do-it-yourself installation. Air conditioning and cruise control are also absent. Over at the Chevy store, a base Colorado runs exactly $20,000 and includes all these features. The Nissan starts at $18,390.

So a true Ace of Base, then? Not quite, as I would definitely pop for the $1,300 Preferred Package to get tunes, cruise, and A/C. Even after adding that princely sum, the Nissan still undercuts the Chevy by $310. Now all Nissan needs to do is call it the Hardbody.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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2 of 38 comments
  • Higheriq Higheriq on Apr 06, 2017

    I came close to pulling the trigger on a Frontier since it has the smallest interior of ANY pickup. If it had been a true regular cab, that would have sealed the deal. I ended up with a regular-cab full-size because I absolutely did NOT want more than two doors.

  • JGMotorsport64 JGMotorsport64 on Apr 07, 2017

    I own a 2010 SE Crew Cab with the V6. I love it. I plan on running it into the ground. I've contemplated getting a new one before it's changed, mainly because Nissan has an acute sense of how to make a car uglier. The restrained styling on this is a last of it's kind for Nissan.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)