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#3

in Compact Pickup Trucks

MSRP: $17,990 - $34,410
Invoice: $17,252 - $32,233
MPG: 15 City / 21 Hwy
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Nissan Frontier Performance

The 2014 Nissan Frontier earns reviewer praise for its strong V6 engine option, responsive automatic transmission and nimble handling.

  • "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
  • "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 (2013)
  • "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 (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The Nissan Frontier comes standard with a 152-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. A 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine is optional, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is available with either engine. The base Frontier gets an EPA-estimated 19/23 mpg city/highway, which is slightly less than a similarly-equipped Toyota Tacoma’s fuel economy. When properly equipped, the Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds and haul a payload of 1,524 pounds.

Reviewers say that while the base Frontier gets better fuel economy than V6 models, the V6 makes the Frontier feel noticeably faster and stronger. They note that the responsive automatic transmission downshifts quickly when more power is needed.

  • "When equipped with the 4.0-liter V6 the Frontier feels strong and confident, offering up plenty of power for passing or pulling, even at high speeds. The V6's fuel economy, on the other hand, didn't impress us, especially in around-town driving where we averaged about 15 mpg." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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
  • "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 (2013)

Handling and Braking

The Frontier comes standard with rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive is optional. Test drivers say the Frontier has a comfortable ride, though some note that the ride is less compliant on models fitted with the optional PRO-4X off-road package. Reviewers also praise the Frontier's handling, saying it feels balanced and is fairly nimble for a truck. Some say that the Frontier’s steering feels direct and heavy, though it can feel a bit too slow in tighter spaces like parking lots.

  • "Handling is nicely balanced and well controlled for a pickup truck. Body lean is noticeable through turns, but it's not excessive. The steering has a weighty feel and is fairly direct, but it's slow to react in tight parking lot maneuvers." -- Consumer Guide
  • "As a daily driver, the 2014 Nissan Frontier holds its own against the Toyota Tacoma and drives as well as most truck-based SUVs." -- 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 (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

Next Steps: Nissan Frontier