By on October 4, 2017

2018 Nissan Frontier

“Hang on a second,” you shout, hurling canned food and stale eclairs in my general direction. “Didn’t this series already cover the Frontier?” Yes, dear reader, it did… for the 2017 model year.

There used to be a Chinese buffet restaurant in the capital city of Newfoundland famous for offering meh options at midday, only to trot out much better versions of the same dishes in the evening. They charged a little bit more after sundown, naturally, but not that much more.

It appears the Nissan product team has been eating at the Golden Phoenix on Kenmount Road, then.

When I wrote about the 2017 Frontier, I deemed it a worthy base model truck but not an Ace of Base winner in the truest sense. I felt the $1,300 Preferred Equipment package – bringing A/C, cruise, and a radio – was a necessary addition. Now, for 2018, Nissan includes all of these features at a modest price increase.

I’d love to imagine Nissan HQ read my words and took them to heart, but it’s far more likely they simply surveyed the content of other base model midsize trucks (*ahem Colorado ahem*) and made their equipment changes accordingly. Now, those who sign the note on a base Frontier will find themselves in possession of all those features mentioned above, plus Bluetooth and a backup camera. Siri Eyes-Free and a 5.0-inch color display are along for the ride as well.

For all these new goodies, Nissan is charging an extra $600, bringing the Frontier King Cab S 4×2 to an MSRP of $18,990. That’s still the cheapest new truck in America, by the way, for those keeping track. The 2018 Chevy Colorado stickers for an even twenty grand, same as last year.

Four angry squirrels still live under the hood and behind the chrome grille, churning out 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Four valves per cylinder separate it from the agricultural power mills that were unceremoniously dumped in small base trucks for years. In the base model, the squirrels spin their exercise wheel for a five-speed manual transmission. Naturally, the cheapest Frontier is a rear-wheel-drive truck.

Towing is rated at 3,790 lbs, well within the range of a utility trailer or even a small camper. Strangely, the truck itself is listed as weighing almost exactly the same amount – 3,785 lbs.

The Frontier, to these jaundiced eyes, has a good and honest squared-off look to it, endowed with the right amount of fender flare and upright headlamps. It is not a truck I’d be afraid to get dirty, even on day two of ownership. More than a few other trucks, including a midsizers or two, are imbued with LED mascara and such. The Frontier still fits into its denim jacket from years ago, and it looks alright.

Several new and welcome features at a modest price increase that still undercuts the competition? Suddenly, it’s evening at the Golden Phoenix, and the owners are trotting out the good stuff.

[Image: Nissan]

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, is priced in Freedom Dollars, and is absent of fees and destination. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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26 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Nissan Frontier King Cab S 4×2...”


  • avatar
    Proud2BUnion

    When I was 18 years old, I purchased my first new vehicle- a 1983.5 Nissan 720 pickup. I paid $5400 for the most basic model- $13,542 in 2017 money.
    If only someone still made a low budget truck, I’d gladly purchase one-vinyl seat, rubber flooring, no AC , PS, or radio.

    • 0 avatar
      brakeless

      A recently used Ford Ranger is as close as you can get, and most of them are white with an automatic. I hate Ford for killing it. Just imagine what a new stripped down Ranger could be … with an Ecoboost 2.0 as the only option checked. Who needs a damn ipod mytouch screen and power cup holders?

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        The only vehicle that has excited me in many years was a white Ford Ranger: crank windows, 5 speed, rubber flooring, bench seat and most golden of all: no frigging console eating up space.

        I saw it on a used car lot. It had a bed cover and fancy wheels and was about three years old at the time. Probably 2009 or 2010 period.

        Pure function. Hit every last nerve on me and I am completely uninterested in trucks. But that one would have started a long term love affair.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Proud,
      Maybe some newish 4 cylinder Colorados a couple years old will be on the market soon?

      Or even a newish secondhand Frontier.

      I would suspect they are cheaper than a Taco.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The only option needed is the sliding rear window and you have the perfect take to college first car for the kid who goes out of state.

    decent mpg, theft proof, can carry all the stuff, safe (reasonably).

    • 0 avatar
      screwtape

      It would be perfect if you’re the type of person who would buy a brand new vehicle for an eighteen year old, a decade old shitbox Corolla would be a far better option. Maybe show them how to rent a Uhaul if you’re worried about moving their worthless crap around, or let them borrow your F150. But what do I know? I’m sure the Eric Trumps and Kim Jong Ils of the world never had to humble themselves to the level of driving something that isn’t shiny and new. Why would teaching a child the value of earning something for themselves be on anyone’s radar?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Is it really direct injected now??

    • 0 avatar
      Goatshadow

      Well the power numbers haven’t changed…

      I had the 2009 one of these. It was great fun to drive with a stick, a little less so when I put 16’s and 265-75-R16s on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Weird, for the ’17 model, Nissan’s configurator indicates that “Nissan Direct Injection System” is standard. But it also indicates the engine is the QR25DE, which the rest of the internet opines is port injected. I’m going with “rest of the internet” on this one.

      Give me port injection any day for a low-cost pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        I think its ‘Nissan Direct Ignition System’ which means it uses a spark plug.

        Also in what universe does a DI 2.5 four make only 152hp? In fact, its a strange world indeed when a PFI 2.5 four only makes 152hp!

        The QR25 is actually in numerous Nissans but they generally make more power, like 170 odd hp in the Rogue and the Altiimas etc.

        Also the 5 spd manual is just a bit mean? 6 spd ones have been available for a while in this HP rating for Nissans.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Not surprised at the lower peak power, the engine has obviously been retuned for low-end and mid range torque. Take a look at Ford’s 5.0L V8 in the Mustang and F150. Same motor, but quite a spread in power output.

        • 0 avatar
          syncro87

          In a vehicle like this, it would just mean you’d be shifting more often. Performance gain would be next to nil. Even if it’s only a $100 price difference for Nissan, why bother. 5 speed is more than adequate in this application.

    • 0 avatar
      Matthew Guy

      Hey everyone. You’re all correct in saying that the base Frontier does *not* have direct injection. Here’s a screencap of the specs from Nissan. Thanks for reading the series! Cheers,

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Screen-Shot-2017-10-04-at-9.57.00-PM.png

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I have fond memories of my mom’s 1984 Nissan truck, which would probably feel like a death trap now. And my own 1994 Nissan hardbody, which was the first vehicle I purchased once I was out of college.

    Both were rugged and fairly trouble free. Neither were high performing vehicles, though my teenage mind thought the ’84 was the fastest thing on the road ;)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How much more for V6 and 4×4?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I would of preferred this in 4×4.

    Nissan currently is doing well with this old vehicle.

    Nissan will find itself in a different situation when the new Frontier finally arrives on US shores, years late.

    Nissan Australia found itself in an unusual position when it finally discarded this D40 model. Nissan along with Mitsubishi sold the cheapest “mainstream” pickups, when the new Navara came along a couple of years ago Nissan found it was without the cheap and cheerful D40 and sales have dropped.

    I wonder if Nissan in the US when the next Frontier arrives will encounter a similar situation?

    But, in the meantime enjoy this vehicle, especially a 4×4 it will make for a cheap and reliable off roader, maybe not the best, but it will get you places cheap for camping, fishing, surfing, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      For Nissan in the great land of Australia, they ran the D40 but with the ancient D22 and now with the NP300/D23 – I know, its a mess.

      However the reality is that the market seems to have gravitated to dual cab utes/trucks.

      The market for extended cab or king cabs is low maybe because the company says so.

      The market for regular cabs is reasonable given that the companies need the for service vehicles.

      But yes, I reckon the crew cab w/ small jump seats and a basic sort of trim would be nice but since the dual cabs exchange for $35k I doubt they want to make less money on a sub $30k truck.

  • avatar
    Broo

    In Canada, both the Frontier and the Tacoma’s base versions no longer offer manual transmissions.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    My daughter has a Frontier PRO 4X and loves it.
    In 4 low with the locking diff it will go just about anywhere which is a good thing since she does part time sheep herding and needs to haul hay to crazy steep places

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    You can find a Base Colorado with a 6 speed manual for less than 19k if you look on cars.com, but I agree for the price this Nissan is a good buy. Actually it is hard to get a manual in a truck unless you get a base model midsize pickup excluding the Ram 2500 which is available with a manual. My preference would be the Base Colorado, but this Nissan would be my next choice.

    • 0 avatar
      DownUnder2014

      It seems these days, the only way to get a Manual in the truck is either to buy the basest 2WD or the top-spec 4WD. The Tacoma and Frontier are both like this.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    This truck is a really good deal in base form at this price. It’s really too bad that you can’t get the 4 door version for a grand or two more. A base, manual, 4 cylinder small truck would work for me if I could reasonably sit someone in the back seat on occasion. The base crew cab is something like $5,300 more money. I’m probably in the brown diesel manual wagon club, but I’d think there is a market for this exact truck but in a crew cab…make it $20,990 list vs. $19,990.

    The risk to Nissan would be next to nil to offer something like this. The parts are already there.

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    I would happily buy an S 4×2 Dual-Cab or the PRO-4X 4×4 in Manual…

    Still, $24,300 seems a bit expensive for an upgrade from the S King Cab…I mean, you do get an extra three seats, two extra doors, an extra cog (in the Manual) and two more cylinders…but does that all cost an extra $5,310?


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