in 2013 Compact Pickup Trucks

Avg. Price Paid: $14,731 - $27,951
Original MSRP: $17,990 - $33,790
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2013 Nissan Frontier Performance

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

The 2013 Frontier receives largely positive reviews for its performance. Critics are pleased with its ride comfort, maneuverability, towing and hauling capabilities and powerful V6 engine option.

  • "Frontier stands out among a diminishing group of compact pickups for its controlled handling, powerful V6, and off-road-oriented PRO-4X model." -- Consumer Guide
  • "If you want a tough but well-equipped truck that's smaller and more fuel-efficient than most full-size pickups, the Nissan Frontier is a solid choice. The 2013 Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds and tackle rugged paths while still offering good looks and a decent highway ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Being a midsize pickup, the 2013 Nissan Frontier is considerably smaller than traditional full-size pickup trucks. Even so, you'll find it's still quite capable of tackling all sorts of workhorse duties thanks to its powerful V6 engine, relatively nimble handling and rugged body-on-frame construction." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Powering the Frontier is a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard with this engine. A 4.0-liter V6 engine with 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission, is optional on King Cab models, though it is standard on Crew Cab models. A five-speed automatic is available with either engine. A two-wheel drive Frontier with the four-cylinder engine achieves an EPA fuel economy rating of 19/23 mpg city/highway, which is slightly less than the Toyota Tacoma’s rating. Upgrading to either the V6 and/or four-wheel drive slightly lowers the Frontier’s fuel economy ratings.

Few reviewers have tested the Frontier with the four-cylinder engine. Reviewers like the optional V6 for its ample power and torque. One reviewer says that the automatic may be the best choice for most drivers, calling it "well-tuned." Another test driver is pleased with the automatic transmission’s responsiveness, as well as its ability to keep the engine in its power band.

  • "On the road, the 2013 Nissan Frontier's performance depends on what's under the hood. While the 2.5-liter four-cylinder will go a couple of miles farther on a gallon of gas, the significantly more muscular 4.0-liter V6 delivers much more satisfying acceleration and towing capacity. Though we applaud the availability of the five- and six-speed manual transmissions, we think most folks will be better served by the well-tuned five-speed automatic." -- Edmunds
  • "Nissan has made no 4-cylinder or long-bed Crew Cab Frontiers available for testing. V6 models have plenty of low-end torque to get moving from a stop, especially in the lighter King Cabs. The automatic transmission downshifts responsively to tap into the engine's willing midrange and highway passing power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Paired with the refined 4.0-liter V6 engine that is standard on Crew Cab models and all but the two lowest trims of the King Cab, the Nissan Frontier has plenty of power for passing vehicles and pulling loads." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The Frontier is available with either two- or four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is only available with the V6 engine. The Pro-4X model optimizes various suspension components for off-roading. Reviewers are generally pleased with the Frontier’s handling. One reviewer says that overall ride comfort is better than expected. Multiple reviewers note that Pro-4X models have a rougher ride than other Frontier trims. One critic praises the Frontier’s steering for making the truck feel agile.

  • "The ride is firm but absorbent as all tires sizes have plenty of sidewall to help absorb impacts. Sharp bumps do register, but are not jarring. The ride is basically the same with the various tire sizes. The body-on-frame design and light rear end create typical truck-like bounding over crests and and jiggle over bumps, but both are quickly quelled. The PRO-4X has an off-road suspension that causes more bouncing." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In everyday driving, the Frontier performs as well any mid-size SUV we've tested, though the truck's ride becomes noticeably harsher over rough pavement." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Complementing this powertrain are steering and suspension hardware that make for a fairly agile driving experience as trucks go. Ride quality is better than you'd expect on most Frontier models, the notable exception being the trail-ready Pro-4X." -- Edmunds


A two-wheel drive King Cab Frontier with the V6 engine can tow up to 6,500 pounds. This matches the towing capacity of the Frontier’s closest competitor, the Toyota Tacoma.

Next Steps: 2013 Nissan Frontier

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