By on August 30, 2018

Image: Nissan

John Kerry was in the news a lot when the current-generation Nissan Frontier debuted in the United States. The TV series 24 was a hot item, CNN’s rating were through the roof, social media wasn’t really a thing, and your author sported long, flowing locks.

Suffice it to say that the Frontier is old, and 2004 was better than today. Still, Nissan apparently feels no pressing need to revamp its little pickup, preferring to see it serve as the entry point of the entire midsize pickup segment. The benefit for buyers is that the mainly unchanged 2019 Frontier keeps its bargain basement floor price.

For the coming model year, the base Frontier S — a nostalgic ride sporting an extended cab (King Cab), rear-wheel drive, 2.5-liter inline-four, and five-speed manual transmission — stickers for $18,990, the same MSRP as last year. Add to that a destination fee of $995, and you’re off to the retro races. Good luck finding one on a dealer lot…

Image: Nissan

It’s not a complete carryover, keep in mind. Buyers of S- and SV-trim Frontiers gain a 7-inch color(!) infotainment touchscreen for 2019, though the four-banger soldiers on with its preexisting 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Nissan dumped a bucket of standard content on the truck for 2018, adding air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, and cruise control, in a bid to keep the ancient model current.

Moving up from base, prices escalate rapidly. Swapping the stick shift for a five-speed automatic inflates the sticker to $23,060 before destination, while moving up the trim ladder to a base SV (with manual tranny) adds another $800. An SV King Cab 4×2 with automatic retails for $24,910 before destination, while the cheapest V6-powered Frontier, a King Cab 4×2 with stick, carries a pre-destination price of $25,620.

That V6, a 4.0-liter unit, still makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft.

Buyers looking for added visual brawn can opt for a Desert Runner King Cab or its pricier Pro-4X sibling. These models, both available only with the automatic, go for $26,300 and $33,430, respectively. That’s pre-destination pricing.

Image: Nissan

The Frontier’s Crew Cab lineup, with its two available bed lengths and standard V6, offers buyers a manual transmission with an additional forward gear. A base, rear-drive S is the cheapest four-door, at $24,950 before destination, while SV, SL, Desert Runner, and Pro-4X trims inflate the sticker to a ceiling of $36,850 before destination. For that scratch, you’re in F-150 territory.

While changes remain minimal, Nissan boasts of the expanded availability of Cayenne Red Metallic paint, as well as the return of last year’s Midnight Edition package. Menace sells, I suppose.

Despite its age, the Frontier continues selling quite well. This basically explains why Nissan keeps the current generation alive, even as a new Navara tempts Nissan truck buyers overseas. Frontier sales in the U.S. sank 40.1 percent in July, likely helped by an inventory drawdown, but year-to-date sales ended July up 1.8 percent.

[Images: Nissan]

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42 Comments on “Time Capsule: Nissan’s Frontier Returns for Another Go-round, Base Price Unchanged...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “That V6, a 4.0-liter unit also found in the 4Runner, still makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft.”

    Ummmmm… Think we need some edits.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    The Frontier keeps selling because it’s all many want or need in a pickup. Personally, I couldn’t imagine buying a new Ranger or Colorado as long as the S and SV versions of the Frontier are around.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Steve
    Agreed. A base king cab is the bargain of year.

    The GGM twins are a little goofy looking in my eyes.
    Toyota? last one i was in – NO GO. My ankles were at near the height as my bumm. Uncomfortable for me.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      If you rename the “IT” from South Park as a Toyota Hilux, Toyota fans will line around block paying over MSRP for it and shout from rooftops how much better it is than driving any other brand.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    So this is the truck for everyone who says they do not want or need the newest useless tech…

    I am not a truck guy but I am glad there is still someone selling a new basic truck that fits most folks need.

  • avatar

    Also, I’d like to say Nissan made a mistake doing the PR photos with this paint color. It looks like a very basic work truck.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Didn’t these have a 6-speed manual at one time? Why the downgrade?

    I’d like to know the year ranges so I can shop used.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Pro-4X with stick shift has my attention. 15mpg city and $34K MSRP paired to a brutally cheap interior kind of loses it again. It’s a similar play as the 4Runner but even more extreme. Put enough cash on the hood, though…

    • 0 avatar
      mrwiizrd

      You’ll do a little better than 15mpg city. My 2016 PRO-4X stick gets about 18 city and 21 highway. You’ll also get some cash on the hood from the dealer without even having to ask, I paid right at $30k for mine before TTL in August of 2016.

      Can’t argue about the interior quality, it’s a sea of cheap-o plastic that scratches way too easily for a truck, but the upside it’s really easy to keep clean.

      One underrated aspect of these trucks is how well they handle snow, I live on a steep hill at about 7500 feet elevation in Colorado and the PRO-4X handles winter weather with ease.

      The 6 speed is a joy to drive and I love the simplicity of the truck. Heated seats, a backup camera and an excellent stereo are about all I really need as far as luxury goes and the PRO-4x has that covered.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    I do like these, although the “Pro-4X” trim sounds like some currency trading scheme or a condom maker. However, having driven may of these, I still cant warm up to the brakes, which always are mushy and ineffective, or so they feel. I know Internet land is full of tales regarding the brakes, which scares me a bit, but as you all say, is a decent deal in base 2wd trim, if you can get by with only the King Cab. Its kinda like a modern(!) Dakota from the ’90s.

  • avatar
    Frédéric-Alexandre Decelles

    At the end of the day. Money talks.

    Is it less expensive in the ‘normal configuration’ than a competing truck?

    You can get a canyon pretty cheap too!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The Frontier is likely the only Midsize truck that can actually be had for 75%-80% of the price of it’s Big Brother (Titian) in similar configuration.

      For the other brands often the out the door price isn’t a big enough gap between the midsize and full size.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My experience with a Frontier CC was mixed. It did what it was supposed to. The front seats are the most uncomfortable I have ever had. The reason I sold it actually. After 100 miles it was an awful place to be. After driving a rental spec Colorado, hands down that is where my money would go if I had to buy another small/mid size truck. No amount of dollar savings is worth the torture that front seat requires of the driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Goatshadow

      I had the same feeling in mine. Though I had an added feeling of being cramped for space, especially with the sunroof. And the rear half of the CC is utterly useless for all but 2 at most half sized humans. Might as well have the King cab, put your tools and groceries in the back of the cab, and enjoy the long bed. (Do they even make the CC+long bed version anymore? They were unicorns when they did.)

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Fuel economy is the big issue here.

    The 4cyl/stick Frontier has worse EPA ratings than base 6/auto pickups from GM, Ford, or RAM.

    And I know it’s a bit apples-to-oranges, but why does the 2.5 liter in the Altima get 27 more HP while getting 10 more MPG (combined) than the Frontier?

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    Not entirely on point, but a couple of years ago I had one of these (crew cab) as a rental. It wasn’t bad on the highway but when I stopped at a restaurant and positioned the truck to back into a parking spot it became immediately apparent that this thing has a turning radius closer to that of a frigate. Christ, it took me pulling ahead three times just to make the turn to back in when in any other vehicle I’ve driven the original starting position would have been fine.

    All that aside, I like that a basic truck still exists.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I got a free upgrade in Vegas from enterprise from a Sentra to a crewcab 2wd V6 frontier, I leaped at the opportunity. I think they are awesome honest trucks with the best power plant among the midsizers, fuel economy and numbers be damned. But my biggest issue was indeed the turning radius, I kept overshooting parking spots.

  • avatar
    micko4472

    An ultra reliable truck that has been upgraded just enough over the
    years. Most mechanical problems were solved long ago. A comfy,
    reliable, stout vehicle that will go where you point it without fuss.
    What’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      apparently the white color is offensive to some.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Sorry, but that whole “mechanical problems were solved long ago” doesn’t always mean everything is fine, especially with a Nissan product. There are still problems here and there that haven’t been addressed with power accessories and the brakes, plus the interior trim in this car is noticeably flimsier than its competition.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    I bought a SV with the value package for $1500 under MSRP after TT&L full in out the door… It has all the blootoobs, cameras, backup sensors, fancy bed coating, rails mount jiggers, seat heaters, dual zone AC and a bunch of other junk… I had to add some washers to the seat pan to make it comfortable, and the turning radius is pretty horrible to the point I end up backing into spots more often than not. I’m averaging right at 20mpg. I don’t like the mignight package thing. I do sometimes wish I had gone for the pro-4x but it probably wouldn’t have been as cheap.

  • avatar
    vadonkey

    Back in January, I bought a ’17 S crew cab 4×4 with 5K miles on it for 21K. Yes it has the crank windows, and the no power mirrors or locks option. As others have mentioned, it’s simple and honest….right up my alley

    I love the darn thing.

    I’m 6’3″ and find the seats are very comfy for me, and have been in cars that were torture racks that others said were perfect…so I guess that it all subjective. I do wish the front seat went back another inch or two. And the back seat is perfect for my dogs, they haven’t complained yet.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Had a crew cab 4×4 rental last year it was nice enough all around. I really liked the fact that it was not jacked up, it seemed much more like a 4×2.

  • avatar
    dontbestupidyoumoron

    I guess it’s still smart for Nissan to continue amortizing this non-competitive fossil as long as the clueless still buy it. From it’s start this gen looked ungainly and the interior is horrible. The previous gen Tacoma has a near Lexus like interior and bullet proof reliability. Frame rust issues notwithstanding. Who cares if the Nissan has more giddyup or better cornering? It’s a truck.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    Had a 4×2 crew as my rental in July last year in Palm Springs. Talk about a ghost town in the summer, but that is another story.
    Beat the crap out of this one on the trails in the mountains to the east and it seemed to hold up fine. I would consider buying a clean 2 year old one, but then I am a simple man.

  • avatar
    packardhell1

    As basic as these are, I think they should be commended for offering similar towing ratings for either transmission (3,790 with a manual and 3,780 with an automatic). I remember the late 90s/early 00s Ford trucks having a wayyyyyy lower towing rating with manual transmissions (maybe sourced from Mazda?).

  • avatar
    brn

    If you want the V6 and 4×4, the list price is in Ford Ranger territory. Add a slushbox, and the Ranger is less expensive.

    We’ve yet to see a real review of the Ranger, but I’d be stunned if it wasn’t a vastly superior vehicle.

    The only thing that might make the Frontier a reasonable deal is heavy discounts.

  • avatar
    jdowmiller

    I’ve been looking at trucks again lately. I’ve owned a ’94 Ranger single cab and an ’04 extended cab 4×4. The beds on both of those trucks, particularly the single cab, were quite useful. When did the beds of pickups become totally pointless? The one I looked at today had a 5′ bed. I had to do a double take at the Monroney to make sure I was reading correctly. I moved down the aisle to the full size trucks and the bed was 5’6″. I’m genuinely asking: what is the point of this? What do you do when you need to haul drywall and plywood? I don’t think my bike would even fit. Is a minivan a better proposition?

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