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#1

in 2010 Compact Pickup Trucks

Avg. Price Paid: $12,218 - $21,629
Original MSRP: $17,540 - $29,820
MPG: 19 City / 23 Hwy
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2010 Nissan Frontier Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Test drivers are impressed with the Nissan's performance, and say the truck manages to combine terrific off-road capability with composed on-road ride and handling -- something that's rare in this class.

  • "Handles and rides better than some sedans." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On a curvy mountain road, it is composed, communicative, and even a little bit fun. Like the Titan, it drives better than expected for a truck." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The Nissan Frontier is available with two engines. The King Cab's base engine is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. The SE, Pro-4X and LE trims for both King and Crew cab have a 4.0-liter V6 engine with 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. The Frontier is available with either two- or four-wheel drive. The base model has a five-speed manual transmission, but Frontiers also offer a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.

Most reviewers disregard the XE's four-cylinder engine. The majority tested the 4.0-liter V6 engine, and liked its performance. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the four-cylinder Frontier at 19/23 mpg city/highway. The EPA rates the V6 Nissan Frontier with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission at 14/19 mpg city/highway. These fuel economy numbers are typical for the class.

  • "The Frontier's four-cylinder models make it a fair choice as an inexpensive light-duty work truck, especially considering higher fuel prices. However, for those who need anything above "just getting around," the V6 is really the only choice." -- Edmunds
  • "The engine provides neck-snapping acceleration on demand, with gobs of usable torque across the powerband and in every gear." -- Four Wheeler
  • "V6 models are strong from a stop and around town, especially the lighter King Cabs. The automatic transmission kicks down quickly for good midrange passing punch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, this 4.0-liter variant of the acclaimed engine found in the company's 350Z, Maxima and Infiniti G37 might be the smoothest, strongest V6 engine ever put in a pickup." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Reviewers tend to be big fans of the Frontier's handling. Whether buyers choose a smoother experience with the basic suspension set up or go for more off-roading ability in the Pro-4X trim, most reviewers say the Frontier feels solid.

  • "The truck performed flawlessly, offering a compliant and controlled ride throughout by soaking up bumps and easily managing steep hill climbs comprised of loose and pebbled dirt." -- PickupTrucks.com
  • "Nicely balanced for a pickup truck. The steering feels weighty and direct, but is slow to react in tight U-turns and parking spots. Body lean is evident in corners but well-controlled, and Frontier never feels tippy." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On a curvy mountain road, it is composed, communicative, and even a little bit fun. Like the Titan, it drives better than expected for a truck." -- Car and Driver
  • "Handles and rides better than some sedans." -- Kelley Blue Book

Off-Roading

Reviewers are pleased with the Pro-4X off-roading trim, and report that the Frontier is a fun and capable off-road rig.

  • "And while the name has changed, it's thankfully still the same terrific grab-bag of Nismo goodies we've tested and loved in the past: Bilstein high-pressure shocks, pushbutton rear locking diff, full underbody skidplating, and 75-series BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires on newly designed 16-inch alloy rims . . . the Pro-4x package includes Hill Descent and Hill Hold/Assist controls, both of which are a boon on steep inclines. We tested both systems recently on an '09 model, and they're both quite effective, though the solenoid-happy Descent Control is a little "poppy" and loud-it works just fine once you get used to it, though." -- Four Wheeler
  • "The Frontier has great approach and departure angles, and the underbody mechanicals and precious parts are tucked up into the frame rails for a minimum of 8.9 inches (in the four-wheel-drive Frontier) or 8.6 inches (rear-wheel drive) of running ground clearance on PRO-4X models." -- PickupTrucks.com
  • "Our long test drive concluded with some serious rock-crawling on a Texas ranch, which, thanks in large part to its stiff frame and powerful engine, the Frontier negotiated effortlessly." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Frontier 4x4 models are capable off-roaders, thanks to a maximum ground clearance of 10.1 inches and an abundance of suspension travel. For those seeking an even more accomplished off-road ride, the PRO-4X model is definitely the pick of the litter." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2010 Nissan Frontier

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