2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Review – Back in the Mix

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Fast Facts

Powertrain
3.8-liter V6 (310 horsepower @ 6,400 RPM, 281 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM)
Transmission/Drive Wheels
Nine-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, U.S.
17 city / 22 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
Fuel Economy, Canada
13.7 city / 10.6 highway / 12.3 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$37,240 (U.S) / $48,498 (Canada)
As-Tested Price
$44,315 (U.S.) / $54,147 (Canada)
Prices include $1,150 destination charge in the United States and $2,050 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Nissan finally updated the Frontier mid-size pickup for 2022, thus finally bringing an aging truck current.

But staying up to date isn’t always enough. Did the Frontier suddenly become a much stronger competitor?


Working its favor is that most of the rest of the segment is also a bit long in the tooth, though some fresh blood is coming for 2023. But the old Frontier was, well, old that Nissan would have to take some strong leaps forward to really be in the mix.

Speaking of a mix – that’s how the verdict is. Mixed.

Before we get too deep into this, let’s pause to remember that the frame isn’t exactly new – a lot of the bits and pieces we can’t see carryover. That includes the 310 horsepower, 3.8-liter V6. That said, the truck wears new duds, inside and out, and that’s a good thing.

It’s a more handsome truck than before – though the old design wasn’t so much ugly as it was dated. It looked like a relic from the Aughts. This Frontier’s reskin is handsome in a macho way – befitting of a truck.

The cabin is also much, much nicer, with a clean design that integrates the infotainment screen. Buttons and knobs aren’t sacrificed here, thankfully. There are flaws – Nissan’s infotainment system feels a tad dated, and despite the addition of sorely-needed soft-touch surfaces, some materials feel a little downmarket – but it’s a much more modern place to do business than before. You feel like you’re in the correct year, at least.

I will note that my test unit was a pre-production model, so that needs to be taken into account when talking about fit and finish.

On road, the V6 is smooth and torquey but the Frontier feels a tad heavy in terms of acceleration. The steering is also heavy, too – unusually so. But the ride quality leaned toward smooth, even in the PRO-4X off-road trim. It drives like a truck, yes, but that will be a good thing for many buyers. If you’re in search of a more car-like experience, Honda’s Ridgeline beckons. For a better balance between the two worlds, try Ford’s Ranger. But if you’re interested in brawny, truck-like manners without a major ride-quality sacrifice, the Frontier delivers.

A four-wheel-drive PRO-4X carries the highest base price of any Frontier trim, and my tester based at $37,240. The PRO-4X is meant to go off-road, so it gets skid plates, Bilstein off-road shocks, an electronically-locking rear differential, and all-terrain tires on 17-inch wheels. Other key standard or available features tied to the PRO-4X trim include fender flares, LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, red-painted tow hooks, a unique grille, PRO-4X interior and exterior badging, unique stitching and interior trim, full-size spare, and LED interior lighting.

A Tech Package added lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear sonar, rear automatic braking, high-beam assist, traffic-sign recognition, and smart cruise control for $990.

For $1,990, a PRO Convenience package added a spray-in bedliner, tie-down cleats, 120-volt power outlets in the center console and truck bed, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated side-view mirrors, bed lighting, trailer hitch with wiring harness, remote start, wireless charger for phones, and a 360-degree camera.

A PRO Premium Package adds Fender audio, leather seats, black alloy wheels, a power sunroof, and more for $2,790.

Add $155 for floor mats and the $1,150 destination fee and you have a $44,315 truck that’s vastly improved over the previous generation. But is it good enough?

At the very least, it’s good enough to compete. It’s better, especially in the cabin, than the ancient Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, though newer versions of both are on the way. The cabin is on par with, if not better than, the Toyota Tacoma’s. The overall drive experience, however, leaves something to be desired when compared with the Ford Ranger or Honda Ridgeline. The Frontier PRO-4X does mix ruggedness with gentility better than the utilitarian Jeep Gladiator, but then, so do the other trucks.

The good news for Nissan is that the Frontier is back in the mix. The bad news is that it misses an opportunity to take the lead.

What’s New for 2022

While it carries over a fair bit of under-the-metal mechanical bits, the 2022 Nissan Frontier has a redesigned exterior and interior.

Who Should Buy It

Nissan fans, truck buyers who are looking for something a bit different yet still competitive.

[Images: Nissan]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Sep 06, 2022

    For those of us who don't want turbo 4s especially with the 2023 Colorado/Canyon offering only a turbo 4 this would be our top choice. The efficiency of a non turbo V6 compared to a turbo 4 is not much different but the longevity of the V6 versus a turbo 4 is much greater. If I were in the market for a midsize pickup the Frontier would definitely be a the top of my list.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Kwik_Shift_Pro4X on Feb 19, 2023

    As soon as I was aware that there would be no 2wd, robust 4 cyl, king cab with manual transmission with low to the ground stance, I lost interest.

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.
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