2019 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Review - The Stalwart

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab 4x4

4.0-liter V6, dual overhead cam (261 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 281 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm)
Five-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
15 city / 21 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.8 city / 11.5 highway / 13.9 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
16.8 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $35,185 US / $39,490 CAD
As Tested: $37,930 / $40,555 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $1,913 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

Remember 2005? An old, ugly English prince marries for the second time. A hurricane devastates the U.S. Gulf Coast. Newlywed Chris signs a mortgage on a house and begins to prepare said house for the arrival of a newborn. And Nissan reveals the D40-chassis Frontier.

Fast forward. Charles wonders when his mom will give it up. New Orleans is still recovering. The house, the marriage, and the kid remain. And the 2019 Nissan Frontier continues on, relatively unchanged.

Stability is a good thing in life. Being able to rely upon trusted institutions is reassuring. Few passenger vehicles can be considered institutions – but the Frontier certainly qualifies.

Yes, the Frontier is old, and it shows. The interior, obviously save the touchscreen audio system and the appearance of USB ports, looks straight out of the Bush administration. The plastics are hard and unyielding. The orange backlighting and white-faced gauges remind of the bitchin’ tuner car I lusted over in my college days.

I don’t care. That hard plastic wears forever. It’s easy to clean when it gets dirty. It simply works. The rear seats aren’t a place I’d want a full-grown adult to spend a 12-hour day, but the kids were comfortable enough in this crew cab.

The leather seats aren’t the plushest I’ve encountered, but I’d trade suppleness for durability in a truck. Really, I’d spec cloth were I to buy a Frontier, but I takes what they gives. A welcome surprise, considering the “classic” nature of this Frontier, was the heated front seats. Yes, I’m getting tired of this interminable winter.

The Frontier didn’t exactly explore new frontiers in styling back in 2005, so this is a very familiar look. I could do without the graphics shouting the PRO-4X trim package – especially the tire treads on the hood. The Arctic Blue Metallic is a lovely hue, however. Again, I applaud anything that steps beyond the safe white, silver, and black choices.

Another throwback choice on this Frontier PRO-4X? 16-inch alloy wheels. The tall sidewalls help mitigate the stiffer springing that comes with the off-road focused package, as well as protect against the ever-present potholes. The ride on this Frontier is as good as I’ve experienced in the midsize truck class.

The only real disappointment comes from the old-school drivetrain – fuel economy could be better. Most competitors have moved to six, eight, or even ten-speed automatic transmissions. This Frontier makes do with a five-speed auto mated to the 4.0-liter VQ-series V6, and I couldn’t quite manage to meet the EPA combined rating of 17 mpg in my testing.

But one doesn’t buy a pickup truck for hypermiling. A truck should be a tool, not a fashion accessory, and the tried-and-true Frontier makes a trusty tool. I know that I’d be happy with a Frontier in my driveway for a decade or more, simply because I know it will always perform when asked.

I did flinch at the sticker on this well-loaded PRO-4X Crew Cab. Nearly $38k is a tough pill to swallow. But take a glance at the other trims offered. I’m convinced that a lightly-optioned Frontier is a bargain.

For example, the Frontier is still available with a four-cylinder and five-speed manual in extended King Cab trim, with two-wheel drive. So equipped, a cheapskate can drive away for $18,990. That’s only $1,200 more than a stripped Sentra compact – and the base Frontier can still haul.

I’d probably steer away from such a stripper – my Frontier of choice would be a 4×2 SV trim Crew Cab, again in this Arctic Blue Metallic, with an automatic and the V6. At $27,795, I’d have a truck that my family and I would never outgrow.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Mar 22, 2019

    Was looking very seriously at a Frontier or Pathfinder until I read up on the trans cooler issue. Ended up with a Maxima, but missed the pistion-ring issue on those and got an oil-burner, never another Nissan.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Kwik_Shift_Pro4X on Feb 10, 2023

    I currently have this model in gray. Its been great approaching 58,000 miles. Biggest complaint is the driver seat make you not sit up right. Constantly adjusting my self, or the seat position. Something gets sore, have to readjust over an over for long drives. You don't notice it on the test drive, it is after a month of ownership do you realize the seats are terrible.


    Otherwise, I deem it as a collectable in this format and almost iconic in looks.


  • 3SpeedAutomatic Once e-mail was adopted by my former employer, we were coached about malice software as early as the 90's. We called it "worms" back then.They were separating the computers that ran the power plants from the rest of the system in the early 00's. One plant supervisor loaded vacation pictures from a thumb drive on his work PC. His PC was immediately isolated and the supervisor in question was made an example of via a disciplinary notice. Word spread quickly!!Last I heard, they still had their own data center!! Cloud Computing, what's that?!?! 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
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