16 Years in the Making
Flashback to 2005, yours truly was a senior in high school, dreaming about graduation, college, and the future. Nissan was busy rolling out the second-generation of their Frontier mid-size truck in America. Flash forward to the present and yours truly is married with a nearly 3-year-old son with 2 paid-off vehicles in the garage and a recently-reduced mortgage. Nissan is now busy rolling out their third-generation of the Frontier mid-size truck, badged as a 2022 model. Nissan's tiny truck is poised to compete in a segment that has seen competitors drop out and reemerge in the same amount of time it took to upgrade from the previous generation. The world and the truck market has changed a lot over those 16 years. Think about that, someone could have had a child the year the last new Frontier was released, and buy the next new one for their first car.
All joking aside, this third-generation truck was long overdue, but not that out of the ordinary for the import brands here in the states. Prior to its third-generation Tacoma releasing in 2016 to combat the new rivals from General Motors, Toyota had ridden the second-generation from 2004. Even looking at the full size entry from Toyota, the Tundra has not seen a new generation since the second-gen appeared in 2007. Thankfully we are about to be treated to an updated version for perhaps the 2022 model year. Nissan themselves rode out the first generation Titan full-size truck from its inception in 2001 until it finally got an update in 2016.
While trucks are big money makers in the American market, the import players ride out their investments for many many years as they do not see the sales volume of the Big 3 from Detroit.
Given that amount of time, you would be pleased to know that this truck has been updated for the modern consumer. with an all-new powerful, rugged design, best-in-class 310 horsepower, proven shift-on-the-fly 4WD, largest-in-class 9-inch color touchscreen as standard with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto, available WiFi and wireless charging, the first-ever Nissan to feature Intelligent Around View® Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode, standard class-exclusive Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, class-exclusive Traffic Sign Recognition, and Nissan Safety Shield® 360 on every trim, Nissan is positioning this new truck as the “Right-sized” pickup for a workweek in the city or a weekend off-road.
The first thing I noticed and admired about this Frontier is the baby-Titan styling, which is a very good thing. In fact, I would say this is hands-down the best looking truck in the segment, from the factory anyway. The bold chiseled lines of the boxy face and hips running down the length of the bed show the world this truck means business. Harkening back to their 62 years of truck history in America, this truck has design elements inspired by the iconic Nissan Hardbody, a truck that burnished its rough and rugged reputation winning off-road races in the 1980s and 1990s.
The front is dominated by the grille and is framed by their new interlocking headlights with signature LED running lights and available LED headlights. A wide, elevated stance and massive vertical fenders are meant to evoke durability and strength, while added width to the front was achieved with the unfortunately fake side curtain vents. In the business end of this truck, the taillights were designed to evoke clamps on the sides of the stamped tailgate, giving a strong and structural look. The rear bumper was designed to integrate with the rear fenders to give a muscular and athletic stance.
Body colors such as Tactical Green Metallic offer a new, yet familiar, perspective – inspired by tech-savvy backcountry gear. Another example, Boulder Grey Pearl, helps accentuate the Frontier’s exterior form and pairs well with bold accent colors.
And for an even more aggressive look, the specially-equipped 4WD-only Frontier PRO-4X and new-for-2022 2WD-only Frontier PRO-X feature LED headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, LED fog lights and Lava Red grille accents.
We have used the phrase "all-new" a few times in reference to this Frontier, but when we begin discussing the chassis and frame, that term gets a little....muddy.
This is riding on a heavily modified version of the previous generation's chassis, a cost-saving measure for a company trying to turn itself around. This is not unheard of in the industry. In fact, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma is riding on a modified platform from its previous generation. The engineering team refined and tuned the powertrain, steering and suspension with a focus on the demands of U.S. truck owners.
The standard 310-horsepower 3.8-liter direct injection V6 engine, is a carryover from last year but was all-new for 2020 with 93 percent new or redesigned parts, and offers best-in-class horsepower. Torque checks in at 281 lb-ft. This engine is mated to an all new for Nissan 9-speed automatic transmission designed to maximize efficiency and provide strong acceleration. With an expanded lockup area, a new high-response electro-hydraulic system, long input shaft and a 99 percent wider gear range (versus the previous generation's 5-speed unit), the transmission offers quick, crisp and direct shift response throughout the entire gear range. The steering is not a modern electric unit, rather a retuned hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering gear designed to reduce driver fatigue on long trips. Steering gear ratio has been increased by 16 percent, leading to a faster response with less steering effort.
The suspension is designed to off the best-level ride and handling whether you are on the road or blazing a new frontier. New hydraulic cab mounts reduce road vibration by 80 percent, while new urethane jounce bumpers – a class-exclusive – provide improved damping for a smoother ride. Body roll has been mitigated by a larger front stabilizer bar. Stopping power comes from discs at all four corners with ABS.
Frontier 4WD models feature a shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes operated by an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. Frontier 4WD models are available with a 4-wheel limited-slip system, which helps transfer power to the drive wheels with more grip on low traction surfaces. Hill Start Assist is standard on all models, and Hill Descent Control is standard on all 4WD models – helping adventurers safely climb and descend steep grades.
The PRO-4X model adds an electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and underbody skid plates for the most fierce of off-road adventurers.
As Nissan is aiming to position the Frontier as the "right-sized" truck for most in a sea of ever growing competition, making the bed reach-over height a definite win. The bed also includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner and Utili-track™ Channel System. The Utili-Track™ system provides ultimate cargo hauling flexibility through the use of three special "C" cross-section rails mounted in the bed. In addition, four fixed bed tie-down hooks help secure adventure gear of all shapes and sizes. The tailgate, embossed with "Frontier" along the bottom, sports Nissans new logo prominently in the middle, and is easy to raise and lower now that it is dampened, a new feature for 2022. LED cargo lights help you sort out anything you might be carrying with you, both day and night.
Frontier’s towing capacity is rated at up to 6,720 pounds (maximum, when properly equipped). New for 2022 is standard Trailer Sway Control, which detects sway and automatically applies the brakes to eliminate it for a more confident towing experience.
Its What's Inside That Counts
Perhaps the area the outgoing model showed its age the most was the interior. In today's tech-laden interiors, a 16 year old dash is readily apparent. The first thing you will notice upon entering the cab is the available 9-inch color touchscreen, the largest in the class, which comes with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay® (standard on all models). The entire center stack has been simplified and gives a very user-friendly environment for pilot and co-pilot.
The driver is treated to a standard 7.0-inch Advanced Driver Assist Display, another best-in-class feature, which offers configurable information directly in front of the driver. The PRO-4X model shown in all the press material is trimmed out nicely with dark finishes highlighted by red accents all around, from door pulls and center stack mounted grab handles to the contrasting stitching on the seats and dash as well as that new Nissan logo on the wheel, you will know you are in the off-road model with all that red.
Road noise is tuned out thanks to added insulation, improved carpet and new laminated glass in the front doors. Pair that with standard Zero Gravity seats and any road trip should be a dream, but we will wait until we can test one ourselves to give you full interior reviews.
Addressing common customer needs, Frontier provides 4.0 liters of center console storage – almost double that of most mid-size pickups – as well as 5.7 liters of rear-door-pocket storage and 6.5 liters of front-door-pocket storage. Storage is also provided at the top of the instrument panel.
Lets Talk Tech
Now for the part that makes me giddy and Matt roll his eyes, a long list of advanced technology and safety features make each ride more confident, including five new class-exclusive features.
The interior features a well placed and sized wireless charging pad, and NissanConnect® with WiFi Hotspot, available on PRO-4X/PRO-X models, keep driver and passengers connected. Standard on all models are two front USB ports (one Type-A, one Type-C), two front 12V outlets and Siri® Eyes Free. Two 110V outlets with 400-watt capability – one in the rear, one in the bed – are available on SV and PRO-X/PRO-4X models, allowing users to easily power a wide variety of indoor and outdoor accessories. Fender® Premium Audio with nine speakers is available on SV and PRO-X/PRO-4X grades.
A new feature Nissan is boasting is their first application of Nissan Intelligent Around View® Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode. The new Off-Road Mode available on Frontier PRO-4X functions while the vehicle is moving forward at slow speeds and the 4WD system is in 4LO, ideal for negotiating tight trails without having an external spotter to avoid potential body scrapes or dents.
Available safety technology starts with Nissan Safety Shield® 360, featuring Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking.
Class-exclusive Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Easy Fill Tire Alert are standard. Additional available features include Intelligent Cruise Control, class-exclusive Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Driver Alertness. Rear Door Alert is standard on all models. The all-new Frontier features eight standard airbags.
The 2022 Frontier King Cab is offered in 2WD and 4WD S and SV grades. The 2022 Frontier Crew Cab is available in 2WD and 4WD S, SV SWB (standard bed) and SV LWB (long bed), along with the Crew Cab PRO-4X (4WD only) and new-for-2022 PRO-X (2WD only). The PRO-X grade provides the same rugged design touches as PRO-4X but does not include certain 4WD-related content (electronic locking differential, underbody skid plates). Seven option packages will be available.
A 5-foot bed is standard on all Crew Cab models, with a 6-foot bed optional on Crew Cab SV Long Wheelbase models. A 6-foot bed is also standard on all King Cab models.
Available exterior colors include Glacier White, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Red Alert, Cardinal Red Metallic TriCoat, Deep Blue Pearl, Baja Storm, Tactical Green Metallic and Boulder Grey Pearl – colors intended for fun and adventure. Interior color options include Charcoal, Sandstone and the PRO-4X/PRO-X’s Charcoal with Lava Red.
More than 85 Nissan and NISMO accessories are approved for the 2022 Frontier, including sports bar, off-road step rails with removable steps, NISMO suspension kit, off-road auxiliary lighting, ladder racks and tents. More accessories are in development, and additional details will be available closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date.
What are your thoughts on this All-New 2022 Nissan Frontier, was it worth the wait?