Nissan Frontier Review
The 2012 Nissan Frontier ranks 1 out of 4 Compact Pickup Trucks. This ranking is based on our analysis of 55 published reviews and test drives of the Nissan Frontier, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
Test drivers say the 2012 Nissan Frontier is a top pick in the dwindling class of compact pickup trucks.
This year, the compact pickup class got smaller after both the Ford Ranger and Ram Dakota were discontinued. Now, shoppers must choose from the Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado corporate siblings, the Nissan Frontier/Suzuki Equator twins and the Honda Ridgeline sport utility truck. Overall, reviewers say that the General Motors cousins are so outdated that they should be out of the running. So, if you’re in the market for a true compact pickup, you’re left to choose among three trucks, one of which is the Nissan Frontier.
The Nissan Frontier gets points for its sporty performance, but loses some for its cheap-feeling interior. Test drivers say that it has a smoother ride and better driving dynamics than most of its competitors, and they appreciate its optional V6 engine and off-roading abilities. Plus, its base four-cylinder engine gets pretty good fuel economy for the class. Reviewers say these aspects may help make up for its cramped back seats, lack of features on all trims and cheap-feeling interior materials.
No truck in this class is outfitted in luxury the way full-size trucks like the GMC Sierra Denali or Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn are. Although the Nissan Frontier’s interior isn’t snazzy, reviewers say that the Nissan Frontier’s performance should earn it a spot at the top of most compact truck buyers’ shopping lists.
Other Trucks to Consider
If you want a truck that’s more comfortable for daily driving, you should test drive the Honda Ridgeline. It costs far more than most compact pickup trucks, but it also drives more like a refined SUV, with less body roll and bed hop over bumps. Not only does the Ridgeline come standard with many more features, but it offers more options as well. The top-of-the-line Ridgeline offers navigation, while the Frontier doesn’t offer navigation at all.
Shoppers who prioritize utility over comfortable passenger space should consider the Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma has a nicer interior than the Frontier, though it doesn’t have more standard features, and offers a similar off-road-oriented trim. Test drivers say that the Tacoma and the Frontier rank at the top of the class because their interiors and handling are much better than the GM twins’.
Another truck to consider is the Suzuki Equator. Keep in mind that the Equator is basically a rebadged Nissan Frontier with a longer warranty. If you like the Frontier, check out the Suzuki, since it costs a bit less.
Details: Nissan Frontier
The 2012 Nissan Frontier is available in S, SV, Pro-4X and SL trims. Two cab styles, two bed lengths and two- or four-wheel drive are all offered. For 2012, most trim levels get a few exterior appearance upgrades.
See the full list of 2012 Nissan Frontier specifications.
- "A favorite in the mid-size-pickup market, the Frontier blends truck usefulness with sportiness.” -- Car and Driver
- "The 2012 Nissan Frontier is a top pick in the compact-pickup segment thanks to its brawny nature, relatively nimble handling and innovative features.” -- Edmunds
- "Frontier carves out a nice niche for itself in the compact-pickup market with a powerful V6 engine, middle-of-the-pack size, and options that appeal to off-road enthusiasts. Ride and handling are decent for the class, but interiors disappoint with too much tacky plastic and subpar rear-seat room, even on the crew cab. Still, the Frontier merits consideration for those who don't need or want the bulk of a large pickup.” -- Consumer Guide
Next Steps: Nissan Frontier
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