The Nissan Frontier is a small pickup that continues to win the hearts of shoppers looking for an affordable and reliable pickup. Just before checking out the million mile Frontier at the Chicago Auto Show I was able to spend a week in the 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X to see what the hype is about.
There’s no doubt that the Frontier is due for a few upgrades, but there are several important reasons that this small pickup still plays an important role in a segment with more and more competition.
Starting at under $20,000, the Frontier is priced right. I spent the week in a 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab with the V6 engine and automatic transmission. It starts at $34,190 and with the $2,100 Premium package that adds power heated leather front seats, dual power heated outdoor mirrors, a power sliding glass moonroof, roof rack, and rear fold-down center armrest. Once you add on floor mats and the destination the total cost of my loaner is $37,440.
Driving the 2019 Frontier
The optional V6 offers plenty of power under the hood and in the Pro-4X you’re ready to handle off-road work and adventures. The transmission is smooth and shifting in the automatic is timed well. There is a five-speed manual, which is what the million mile Frontier is equipped with, and that is not available in 2020.
It’s easy to drive and quite maneuverable thanks to the size of the pickup. The V6 is responsive when you need power and while it isn’t blisteringly fast it’s quick for a small pickup. While the steering is looser than in newer pickups in this segment, the Frontier still feels lively in traffic. The suspension soaks up the worst of the road, so you end up with a comfortable ride. If you’re planning to take your Frontier off-road the Pro-4X model is an excellent trim level to choose, you get off-road ready shocks and all-terrain tires.
The towing capacity is 6,100 to 6,500 depending on the Frontier you buy. That’s behind the Ranger and Gladiator, so you’ll need to do the math based on your current and future needs.
Fuel economy is rated for 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway with an average of 17 mpg. This is on the low end compared to the competition. If you’re on the fence, for this reason, you may want to look at the 2020 Frontier that uses a new engine and transmission that promises better fuel economy.
2019 Nissan Frontier Interior & Utility
The 2019 Frontier interior is well laid out, there are tons of physical buttons and you can reach them easily. Unlike the Tacoma, the seat position is more like a normal truck so your feet have more room. It’s easy to get in and out thanks to wide-open doors and easy to find handholds. With the Premium Package, the driver seat is an 8-way power seat and the passenger is a 4-way power adjustment this is a nice option if you want more adjustability.
Upfront there is plenty of room and the front seats are comfortable, while they aren’t Zero-G seats, they get the job done with comfort. There is a good amount of storage cubbies throughout the cabin.
The back seat is not as comfortable, and there isn’t as much room as in the front. It’s good for short trips and for cargo, but it’s not somewhere adults will want to spend a lot of time on road trips. There is under-seat storage in the back.
The overall cabin quality is good with a very sturdy feel and leather seats on the Pro-4X. It is an older interior, but the interior build quality feels very solid, so you won’t need to baby this truck if you’re going off-road or using it to get work done.
While some buyers may feel the impact of a shorter bed, this is the perfect size for my needs. There is enough room for hauling what I need and with tie-downs throughout the bed, it’s easy to secure cargo.
Nissan Frontier Tech and Safety
The Frontier is lacking on the technology side. It’s an older infotainment system that doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You do get Bluetooth and a USB connection to connect to the stereo. This is a tough sell in 2019, even with a touch screen and voice control options. Navigation is available on select trim levels and it comes with the Pro-4X.
The stereo system is quite good with 10 speakers that deliver good sound, even with the volume high. Our model came with Sirius XM, AM, FM, and an aux-in connection. There is no power port in the back seat, so you will need to plug in a charger to the from 12V power connection.
You won’t find a ton of advanced safety features on the 2019 Frontier. My loaner included parking sensors and a rearview camera. There is no option for blind-spot monitoring or forward collision warning.