By on December 5, 2018

The old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to household plumbing, your kid’s Lego creations, and the squeaking ventilation fan in my Dodge Charger. It also applies to the Nissan Frontier pickup, apparently.

Seriously. Even though this thing is almost old enough to vote, Nissan is selling them by the boatload.

Compared to this time last year, sales are up 5.4 percent through the end of November. And this isn’t a case of miniscule numbers skewing the percentages, either. Nissan found 72,154 buyers for the Frontier in the first eleven months of this year. That’s more than their own Versa; more than the Pathfinder, too. It’s within a shout of the Murano, fer chrissakes.

For 2019, the Frontier actually gains equipment while keeping its price at a rock-bottom $18,990. As we learned last week with the Ford Fiesta, one of the cadre of sedans Ford is soon taking to the woodshed, long-in-the-tooth models sometimes benefit in the kit department thanks to a company eager to get just that much more life out of the thing. Or they’ve an abundance of said item in the parts bin.

Whatever the reason, it’s the customers who come up all aces. This year, Nissan’s small pickup earns the 7.0-inch color audio display touchscreen, a unit once reserved for snazzy machines in the company’s showroom. They’ve also expanded the availability of the Cayenne Red shade shown here, so one can drive a base Frontier without looking like they work for Herb’s Drywall.

It is a rear-wheel drive truck at this price, of course, powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four making 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Stirring the pot is a five-speed manual, whose baseball bat of a shifter sticks up out of the floor just like it did in the venerable Hardbody. In fact, Nissan is one of the few manufacturers to endow their pickups with a manual transmission pretty much across the entire range, with both King and Crew Cabs in trims ranging from S to Pro-4X allowing drivers to row their own gears.

Air conditioning is standard on the base truck, if you’re wondering, as is Bluetooth gear and cruise control. I’d check the latter with my own two eyes at the dealer, just to be sure, as manual transmission models are sometime exempt from controlling the cruise. No asterisks appear next to this feature on Nissan’s website, so I’ll assume it is present on all models, including this base truck.

Whenever a manufacturer introduces a new or refreshed pickup, there is guaranteed to be carping from the peanut gallery about how trucks are so big these days and why doesn’t anyone make trucks like they used to?

Newsflash: someone does. You’re looking at it in today’s Ace of Base.

[Image: Nissan]

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

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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38 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Nissan Frontier King Cab S 4×2...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I think people have been saying for years that there is a market for a small basic pick-up truck, Nissan has proven that to be true

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    A base Frontier is the only truck I would buy these days – because it’s the only truck that I like and the only truck that I need. All for under 20 grand delivered.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I had a RWD crew cab V6 rental in Vegas this summer and I loved it. The old school VQ40 and 5spd auto are not as efficient as the Tacoma’s effete 3.5L or Chevy’s 3.6L, but damn does the Nissan mill feel potent throughout the rev range, and the transmission isn’t constantly shifting around. Rear seat space isn’t great and the seat angle precludes anyone from really traveling back there in comfort. All I wanted to do was find a gravel road to bash the thing on and swing the tail out. It felt satisfying even just muscling around busy downtown Vegas streets. Steering is strangely heavy at parking lot speeds, and turning radius is fairly abysmal, I was constantly overshooting my intended parking spot.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Glad this is still around in the form it is. If I wasn’t needing a vehicle that can carry a kennel while still having A/C, I’d be all over the Frontier. I suspect that for a vast majority of what people NEED a truck for (not what they WANT or want to project), this is about it. Perfect for yard work, hauling away trash and running back and forth to work. I dearly want a small truck, but am not independently wealthy, so I’ll be looking for a hatchback when I return home next spring. But big kudos to Nissan for keeping it, and even more so for the 70K+ people that bought one!

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I really like to see this base model offered with 4WD. Why does only Toyota give me this 4cyl 4×4 MT trim? GM pulls this crap with their Colorado too.

    ~$21k with 4WD MT smallish pickup, there is a niche that is unmet. The Toyota is what, like $25k?

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      I don’t think you can get a Toyota Tacoma in a 4cyl/5 speed combo anymore. All the 4 cylinder pickups are now automatic. The cheapest manual is now a V6 extended cab 4 x 4, at $30K plus. I suspect a lot of the Toyota guys who used to buy a cheap, 4 cylinder, manual have moved on to the Frontier.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I often wish (RAMBLING AHEAD) automakers would re-pop the classics, brand new and with a steep discount over “current” up-to-date replacements, and minus the needless complication/tech, planned obsolescence, 10-speeds, heavy in weight and whatnot.

    The first thing I’d get is the ’87 “notch” 5.0 LX Mustang with radio delete. Or the ’82 GT. Last week I spotted a Fox Mustang parked in a driveway next to a current Mustang. The size difference was mind blowing.

    But I should have my head examined, I’m seriously thinking about performing a full (body on) restoration of my ’05 F-150 STX supercab 4X4, dumping some serious cash (up to 15K) into it, instead of spending $35K on a new replacement.

    Endless aftermarket, used parts everywhere, lot’s of possibilities, including a set of cat-back turbos (where the mufflers should be), full headers, tuned to just 7 PSI (on a used 4.6 engine, 4-speed auto) or rebuilt with forged parts, for 15 PSI or more. Or Terminator 4.6 swap? Tremec trans??

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      A full rebuild of an ’05 F150 sounds like a fantastic waste of time and money when you can get something like a lightly used ’15-’16 Supercab 4WD 2.7 Ecoboost (Sport or XLT) in the $23k range right now if you look.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I didn’t say it would make sense, my financial planner
        endorse. Same with restoring a Fox Mustang when there’s plenty of low mileage, near-mint examples everywhere, but I’m talking about building on to an already great truck, that truly meets my needs and wants, and taking it to a much higher level, custom made for me along the way, better than anything new in many ways, for tens of thousands less!

        Many are spending up to, or more than 30K on ’06, ’07 power stroke F-250s, with cosmetic/mechanical/upgrades/updates/tunes/deletes with oops, a “bluebook” at only half that, making them better than new for half the price of new replacements, even when they have the cash for any new truck but feel displaced by the new pickup market and what’s offered, or even offended.

        • 0 avatar
          DweezilSFV

          Mike, you don’t have to defend anything. Or explain.

          Some of the mob will never get it.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Absolutely Mike…My buddy pumped $15 K $CAN into his 2000 Silverado, reg cab, step side, 4×4… Bought as a used vehicle, with 3000 KLMs on the clock, from the GM staff garage.

            18 Southern Ontario winters had taken their toll. He drives it everyday , it looks great, and gets compliments everywhere it goes.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I guess I fail to see the particular value or “specialness” of a generic rusty F150 of that generation, the nadir of Ford truck quality (IMO). Plug issues, cam phaser issues, exhaust manifold stud issues, rust issues, hub actuator issues, water leak issues, etc. or if nothing else going down south to at least find a rust-free example to build this interesting sounding twin turbo build off of.

          If you had something cool like a ’92-’96 gen truck with the 7.3L and a stick like one of my brother’s customers, that would be something else.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            He says it is the 4.6 which wasn’t yet the 3v engine, so no cam phasers, no plug issues, no exhaust manifold issues.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Of course I’m starting with a solid F-150, almost no rust (worth mentioning), and I already have a ’92 F-250 (351C, 5-speed) and 91 F-350 (460, 4-speed auto) as toys, both 4X4s, but they’re not for cross county hi-jinks. The 15 mpg of my F-150 is bad enough!

            I really like the simplicity and style of the early generation of that F-150, and STX mono-chrome. It’s never let me down, probably not smart enough.

            The F-250 is an ex-forestry crew cab, “Ace of Base”, repainted white, and the F-350 is a customized Lariat dually limo-stretch, one of a kind “show truck”. Plus I’m hoarding extra “parts trucks” for the F-150 and heavy dutys. These trucks are plentiful and found everywhere, so they’re a cheap hobby.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Boy does this resonate with me. When my daughter was born in ’89, the ’85GT I bought new made way for a Maxima and I miss the thing. In my fantasy world, I’d make it look bone-stock, but replace the original 5.0 with a stroker and a more stout transmission and rear end with, say, about 350-400hp. Since the ’85 weighed about 3000 pounds, it should be a real performer. I don’t even mind the axle-hop, it’s part of the charm.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Aftermarket rear control-arms do the trick, cheap and easy to install, and make a world of difference. Just putting 3.73 gears in an otherwise stock Fox makes them a requirement.

            My niece said she was looking for a Fox Mustang and I remembered I have a fair condition ’84 GT 5-speed squirreled away for 20 years in a barn. We’re fixing it up, and it’s easy to forget how small they are. I almost want the car for myself!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Maybe not a waste of money when you consider that DM will probably keep the truck for another 13 or more years. I didn’t spend that much but about a year ago I spend 2,500 on a 99 S-10 that I have had since new fixing rust on the driver’s side lower extended cab panel, blasting the frame and putting rust proof coating, replacing the grill, and a few other odds and ends. Many thought I should just go out and buy an old S-10 but unless you know the history of the vehicle you could easily spend thousands on someone else’s problems. I plan on driving the S-10 another 3 years and then giving it to my nephew who is retired Coast Guard Officer. I completely understand where Denver Mike is coming from.

    • 0 avatar
      StudeDude

      The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t….

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      I just spend about 900 on rebuilding the front suspension on my 96 S10 with 475,000 miles. New snows, weight in the back. Good to go for another 2 years. all the while you schmucks have spent hundred of thousands of dollars over the last 2 decades. Would love to get a frontier like this and drive it for 20 years too

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If I were in the market for a new midsize truck I would definitely consider the base Frontier with a 5 speed manual and 4 cylinder. All the bugs have been worked out and it is a bargain for what you get. I would also consider a Base Colorado/Canyon.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    This was my first Frontier and it was a lot of fun to drive. One thing that ruined it was my fault: putting P265/75R-16 tires and 16″ wheels on it (the same that you would get on a V6 model) absolutely sucked out any grunt that little 2.5 could give. It looked a lot better, but it could barely get out of its own way.

    Still, if it had power locks and windows I might have kept it.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Lack of power locks and windows are an odd reason to get rid of it.

      Defeats the entire Ace Of Base premise, especially of a basic work truck.

      • 0 avatar
        Goatshadow

        Try driving with a dog in the passenger seat and saying that. You want to be able to roll that window down/up and unlock that door as easily as possible.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Well at least in the narrow cab of a Frontier you can reach the passenger side door sitting in the driver’s seat. The lack of power door locks is my biggest complaint with my F250 because even at 6’2″ I have to unbuckle and fold up the armrest/console to unlock the front passenger door.

          • 0 avatar
            Goatshadow

            Winding down the passenger window from the driver’s seat was much, much harder than locking or unlocking it. Especially with the long gearshift stick in the way. And impossible while driving.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s still a silly reason, when you can pull the power windows, door locks, keyless entry from a donor, junkyard Frontier, and it’s all plug-n-play. It’s not like it’s a revolutionary new vehicle, just released.

          Find a wrecked Pro 4X Frontier and pull all the good (upgrade) parts off of it, or buy the whole truck if you can.

          I’m the ultimate cheapskate, so I’ll buy the base truck and upgraded (some of it) to a Lariat, SLE, etc, at a later time (power windows/locks first) one piece at a time.

          Bigger tires may mean you have to change its gearing to compensate, or an upgrade too. If you like the truck, put a little money into it, and enjoy. Tell the new truck makers to shove it. Besides, they’re “trucks” for frick’s sake, not some Rouge, CUV, stupid sedan or something.

          They’re meant to be modded/upgraded to your tastes/needs/etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Goatshadow

            How about no. Frontiers are not like that. Even the aftermarket for mods/upgrades is pretty poor. OEM parts are overpriced and they suck to work on, with as many modules, sensors, wiring harnesses, one-use plastic fasteners, etc. as their contemporary cars and SUVs.

  • avatar
    brookbrook

    Bought a new 2016 frontier desert runner model (v6, 267hp/280ftlb torque) . Talked the dealer into 22k, zero down, 18k miles a year lease. Previous vehicle was a 2008 f-150 stx. The frontier is ridiculously easy to drive. It has a quite decent amount of power both on regular traffic and on the highway. On the highway it doesn’t take much to get it into triple digit speeds by accident. Cruising at 70mph to 80mph is effortless. The f150 (v8), felt like a heavy brick at those speeds. The few negatives are gas mileage is terrible for a v6 around town (16 to 18mpg) and the tank does not hold the said 21 gallons. At an indicated 10 miles left in tank and light on, can’t fill… ever… more than 14 gallons. Max range is like 250 miles give or take a few. But despite that, 40,000 miles in, the truck drives like new, no squeaks or rattles, traction control is best I’ve seen in a rear wheel drive vehicle (you can gun the engine from a stop on wet pavement and it’s like it has all wheel drive. I was and am still stunned). The ride height is just high enough to see over most cars making highway travel quite easy.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Nissan may sell a lot of Frontiers, but I can guarantee they don’t sell a lot of Ace of Base Frontiers. Why? Dealers won’t stock them.

    A quick search on cars.com lists a grand total of 105 available nationwide.

    I’m pretty sure Nissan doesn’t really want to sell these at all.

    • 0 avatar
      riggodeezil

      True, this. The version (technically) exists so that Nissan can claim it offers the “most affordable” pick-em-up truck and so that articles like this can be written about it. Around here they have very few “S” trim Frontiers and they are all white or black with auto trans. I guess they are mainly for the commercial-use types that don’t want a Taco. The Frontier might be considered “long in the tooth” by car mooks but even this “Ace of Base” spec. is probably a billion times better than the last truck I owned (‘88 Ranger) and I considered it to be pretty good. Really, like others have said, it’s pretty much all the truck anyone “needs”. But selling people vehicles that they “need” doesn’t really feed the bulldog anymore so we get lots of Sherman tank-sized trucks loaded with enough electronic hoo-hahs and fluffery to make your grandpappy do somersaults in his grave.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    My brother has a 2014 Frontier. The steering feels like stirring a pot of molasses with a pencil. I can’t even remember ’60s cars being bad like this, but a ’94 Silverado V6 is about as poor.

    It’s not clear to me why the steering is so bad, but my brother is mystified at my reaction. His S.O. drives a mint 2006 BMW 3 Series, and he doesn’t think there’s much difference except for power. Not a keen driver, nor an observant one. No wonder people are happy trundling around in crossovers and not bothering if they cross the double yellow on twisty two-laners. Too much effort to pay real attention or take pride in one’s driving skills – “oops, there’s the phone! Howya doin, Charlie?”

  • avatar
    Broo

    I’m interested in a small, basic truck with extended (not double) cab. Both the Tacoma and Frontier in 4×2 trim fit the bill. I want a manual one too, since this is about to disappear. Or has it ?

    Technically, the 4×2 Colorado qualifies, but GM made it too big once again. The new Ford Ranger won’t have a manual transmission and the announced price doesn’t make sense. Judging from the pictures I have seen, the bed is too high, just like the Colorado.

    In Canada, you can’t get a 4×2 Tacoma or Frontier with a manual transmission anymore. Used trucks retain their values so much that you might as well buy new. Value seem to only drop once the truck is beat up.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Looking at the specs I don’t see where the Colorado is any larger or higher than the current Tacoma. Especially when every Taco has the lifted “PreRunner” stance now.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “For 2019, the Frontier actually gains equipment while keeping its price at a rock-bottom $18,990.”
    .
    Think about it, my 1993 Toyota Deluxe extra cab PU, 4WD V6 5SP stickered for $18,800. Options included AC, cruise control, auto-hubs. That was about it. I paid $16,600 for it, not sure if you could knock that much off the Nissan.

    Of course in MN 2WD PU = worthless for towing in the winter!

  • avatar
    JMII

    Bonus point for Nissan showing this truck towing a race prepped old school Datsun Z on their website. Size wise I wonder how this compares to my Dakota. Its HP and TQ are not that far off my current 4.7l V8. Sadly MPG are about the same too with a last decade 5 speed auto.

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    Big fail because of the awful gas mileage . Stats say 19 mpg average for this roll up window blast into the past , with mid size truck mileage 20 mpg for my 2006 extra cab 2wd Toyota SR5 with all options . I average about 21-23 and 26-27 on long highway runs . Probably going to trade it in next year for a Corolla hatch . If I need a truck I’m looking at what my neighbor bought this year to replace his aging Explorer – used first generation Honda Ridgeline . It won’t sell anyone on gas mileage , but is all wheel drive and over built to get 300K miles easily .

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