No matching results

Recent Articles

Popular Makes

Body Types

2017 Nissan Frontier Road Test and Review

Scott Oldham
by Scott Oldham
March 5, 2017
5 min. Reading Time
2017 Nissan Frontier hero ・  Photo by Nissan

2017 Nissan Frontier hero ・ Photo by Nissan

Americans once again love little pickups. In the last few years, the compact pickup truck market has gone from ice cold to full broil. Sales are up, and the automakers are reinvesting in the segment, designing, engineering and building the most capable compact pickups ever. Recently several new products have entered the segment, and there are more on the way.

Nissan has been there since the beginning. In fact, Nissan was the beginning, launching America’s very first compact pickup truck in 1960, the Datsun 1000, and the company’s commitment to the American small truck buyer has been as consistent and dependable as Earth’s rotation ever since. Nissan has worked to improve the breed for last 57 years, and that experience and know-how has made the new Nissan Frontier one of the best-selling small trucks ever.

Built exclusively in Canton, Mississippi, the 2017 Nissan Frontier packs the power, comfort, and capability today’s compact truck buyers demand. Now in its second generation, these trucks can be found all over America working hard and playing even harder.

Let's take a closer look at the 2017 Nissan Frontier.

Models and Pricing

Nissan offers the Frontier in a wide range of configurations. Two body styles are offered: King Cab; and the more versatile Crew Cab, which has four forward-opening doors and a friend-and-family-friendly backseat.

They’re available two- or four-wheel drive and in five trim levels: S; the popular SV; the 4x4 only PRO-4X; the two-wheel drive Desert Runner; and the top-of-the-line SL, which is available only as a Crew Cab with a 261-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine.

Prices start at $18,390 for a two-wheel-drive King Cab S with a 152 hp four-cylinder engine and a 5-speed manual transmission, which is the standard powertrain on all two-wheel-drive King Cabs. It’s an adequate combination. Buyers can add a new S Work Truck Package with a spray-in bed liner, bed rail caps, splash guards and rubber floor mats for $750.

All other combinations get the more desirable V6 with a 5-speed automatic, although there’s an available 6-speed manual transmission on 4x4 models.

Prices max out at $36,410 for an SL Crew Cab with the available long bed that is more than 13 inches longer than the Crew Cab's standard bed.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Desert Runner and Pro4X

If you’re looking to get a little mud on your tires and want that rugged off-road look, Nissan offers the Frontier in two special off-road tuned trims, the two-wheel drive Desert Runner and the four-wheel drive Pro4X. Both are available on both the King Cab and the Crew Cab body styles, however, they cannot be combined with the longer bed.

The Pro4X is our favorite. Prices start at $32,580 for the King Cab. Special equipment includes unique and cool-looking six-spoke wheels, more aggressive P265/75R16 tires, an electronic-locking rear differential, skid plates for the oil pan, gas tank and transfer case, and Bilstein off-road performance shocks.

Think of the Desert Runner as a Pro4X light. It gets everything from the Pro4X except the skid plates, the locking rear differential and the four-wheel drive. This keeps the cost down. A King Cab Desert Runner starts at $25,200, which is a heck of a value.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Lackluster Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is not the Frontier’s forte. Even models with the four-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual transmission have a surprising thirst for fuel. That combination is rated 19 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. These numbers trail most of the truck’s competitors.

As expected, the numbers slide further with the big V6. Two-wheel drive V6 models are rated 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, and the four-wheel drives are rated 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. To put these numbers in perspective, Nissan’s full-size Titan pickup, which is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 with 390 hp, is also rated 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

These numbers are certainly sabotaged by the Frontier’s primeval 5-speed automatic transmission. Most other vehicles now feature transmissions with seven or eight speeds, and Ford just introduced a 10-speed automatic in its F-150. The good news is that both engines run on 87-octane regular grade fuel.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Exterior Design and Features

Simple and stylish, the exterior design of the 2017 Nissan Frontier hasn’t changed much over the years. It still looks modern enough, and we like its proportions and pronounced wheel well flares that add attitude. Unfortunately, the shapes have become very familiar, and newer designs from Chevy, GMC and Toyota are making the Frontier appear a little dated.  

The bedside graphics on the Desert Runner and the Pro4X models add a welcome touch of flash, and we can’t help but like the larger 18-inch wheels, chrome bumpers and other added brightwork on the SL model.

Plus, Nissan is the only manufacturer in the segment to offer an optional Bed Tent. It’s a dome shaped camping tent that erects inside the truck’s bed creating a home away from home. And it costs just $260. Pretty cool.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Interior Pros and Cons

Much like the Frontier’s exterior, its interior isn’t the most modern or the freshest design. It is well assembled, properly ergonomic and perfectly functional, but it’s also a bit behind the times with too many hard plastics.

The gauges are clear and simple, if a bit ordinary. The dash’s knobs are large, as are the cupholders, and the center console bin is big enough. There’s also a nicely presented center-mounted screen on the dashboard -- too bad it’s so small, measuring just 5-inches. Many cell phones are larger. Seat comfort, however, is extremely high. The driving position is perfect and visibility is outstanding.  

King Cab and Crew Cab models come with bucket seats in front, and the rear seats in both cab styles can be folded up for additional cargo. If you’re going with the S trim level we recommend stepping up for the $1,300 S Preferred Package, which adds such niceties as standard Bluetooth, the 5-inch screen, air conditioning and cruise control.  

Spring for the SV trim level and you get a much longer list of luxuries including power windows and power door locks. Upper trims bring leather seating, navigation, and dual-zone climate control.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

How it Drives

Our test truck was a Frontier King Cab in the base S trim. Few frills. No power windows. Cloth seats. No flash. Simple white with a gray interior. Nothing more than good basic transportation. A work truck. We loved it.  It’s kinda fun to drive.

It’s 152-hp four-cylinder engine was more than adequate around town, although, with a full load, you better plan way ahead when merging onto the highway. We also appreciated the 5-speed manual transmission, which was geared well and easy to shift and the light clutch effort kept it from being a chore in stop and go traffic.

This is also a very comfortable truck. The seats are large and well-shaped and its suspension doesn’t beat you up or feel too truck-like, even when the bed is empty.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

Cargo and Towing

Two size beds are available. The King Cab comes with 5-foot bed, as do most Crew Cabs, but Nissan offers a 6.1-foot bed on Crew Cab SV and SL models. Payload capacity maxes out at 1,500 pounds, depending on how the truck is equipped.

Nissan also offers its innovative cargo tie town system called Utili-track, as well as a spray-in bed liner. The Utili-track system uses "C" rails throughout the bed and removable utility cleats that slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attaching points for securing cargo.

All Frontiers are rated to tow well over 6,200 lbs., while the maximum towing capacity is 6,710 pounds for some two-wheel drive models. And towing equipment makes up a large portion of the Frontier’s list of available accessories including a 7-pin tow harness, hitch balls and a weight distributing Class IV hitch ball mount.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan

The Competition

Nissan’s Frontier competes head-to-head with the Chevrolet Colorado, the GMC Canyon and the Toyota Tacoma, which is the best-selling truck in the class. Also in the segment is the new more carlike Honda Ridgeline, and Ford will reenter the segment next year with an all-new Ford Ranger.

The Frontier stands strong in this growing class with unique features, aggressive pricing and a long-standing reputation for durability and reliability. But the age of its powertrains is starting to show.

With 261 hp, the Nissan’s V6 is more than adequate, but its output is way behind the other trucks, especially the Chevy and the GMC which offer 306 hp. And the Nissan’s 5-speed automatic transmission is simply antiquated. There’s also no diesel option which is offered in the Chevy and the GMC.


Final Thoughts

With so many body styles and trim levels to choose from, there’s bound to be a Frontier that fits your wants, as well as your needs. There’s a Frontier for everyone, from an affordable bare-bones work truck with roll=up windows like our test vehicle to an off-road ready ride with skid plates and a locking rear differential.

Although we found its design to be a little dated compared to its competition, and its powertrains aren’t the most fuel efficient, the Frontier is a very likable, extremely comfortable and highly capable truck.

If you’re the market for a compact pickup, the 2017 Nissan Frontier is a solid overall choice.

 Photo by Nissan

Photo by Nissan


Interested in Getting a New Car?

Used Cars Near You

No Data Available

Powered by Usedcars.com
©2024 AutoWeb, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Some content provided by and under copyright by Autodata, Inc. dba Chrome Data. © 1986-2024.