in 2011 Compact Pickup Trucks

Avg. Price Paid: $13,622 - $22,809
Original MSRP: $18,200 - $32,080
MPG: 19 City / 23 Hwy
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2011 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 performance with composed on-road ride and handling -- something that's rare in this class. However, reviewers say that unless you’re really concerned with fuel economy, take a pass on the base 2.5-liter engine.

  • "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 base engine is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder with 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. Optional is 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 can come with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, depending on configuration.

The majority of reviewers tested the 4.0-liter V6 engine and liked it, but aren’t as kind about the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the four-cylinder Frontier at 19 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and two-wheel drive. Add a V6 engine, four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, and the EPA rates the Frontier 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

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 opt for more off-roading ability in the Pro-4X trim, most reviews 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


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

  • "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
  • "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: 2011 Nissan Frontier

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