Nissan Frontier: 5 Things That Need Fixin'

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The mid-size Nissan Frontier is the only pickup truck sold in the U.S. that can be had for less than $20,000, and for that reason it deserves attention. At a time when some pickup truck prices are climbing into the stratosphere, it's nice that there's a pickup for buyers who simply want a no-nonsense, functional cargo hauler that doesn't swallow a bank account whole. We even did a video about all things we like about it. However, we would be remiss if we didn't also point out the trade-offs of purchasing a truck like the Nissan Frontier.

We recently spent time with a 2018 Nissan Frontier S King Cab with a 6-foot bed and a 4x2 drivetrain. Aside from the $150 floormats, the price of this base-trim Frontier was $19,965 including destination. This truck was powered by a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine (making 171 pounds-feet of torque) and a five-speed manual transmission. It came with manual sideview mirrors, manual door locks and manual window cranks.

The biggest weakness of this economical pickup? It's suspension. Not only does the Nissan Frontier provide a limited payload capacity — a paltry 827 pounds, meaning around 635 pounds if I'm driving — but it also has some of the most punishing front and rear suspension jitters we've felt in a long time. On the plus side, the Frontier is probably the single best example of how far today's pickup trucks have come. That's because the Frontier is essentially unchanged since 2004 and is in desperate need of an upgrade. Thankfully, we know the all-new 2019 Nissan Frontier (based off the impressive global Nissan Navara) will be showing up next year.

Below are the top five things we hope will be fixed in the 2018 Nissan Frontier.

 

Suspension

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The front coil and rear leaf springs are fine, but we found ourselves making sure we never let the gas tank get too low because the extra weight dramatically improved the ride quality. We're guessing loading a few hundred more pounds in the bed would have done even more. Nowadays all trucks should deliver a good ride when empty and loaded — and do it with a much higher payload rating. With two smaller adults in the Nissan Frontier, we'd barely be able to legally carry 500 pounds of payload, which is roughly the same capacity as a compact crossover.

 

Rear Hinges

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We know many people still like the extended-cab option (called King Cab for Nissan) whether full-size or mid-size, but not if the rear doors open to only 90 degrees. Such an opening makes it almost impossible to access the rear in-cab storage or seating area in a tight parking lot. Larger double-jointed hinges provide more convenience and minimize the unsightly gaps that result from Nissan's old-school strategy.

 

Steering

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Whether the problem is in the joints, the rods or the full steering mechanism, the shudder and vibration transmitted through the steering column and wheel is, at times, a bit unnerving — especially with so many improvements by the Nissan Frontier's competitors. And it's hard to find another 4x2 mid-size pickup with the same amount of steering wander and numbness as the Frontier's. Whatever the issue, the Nissan Frontier's steering needs an upgrade.

 

Better Bed Tech

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Today's pickups do double duty, often serving as family hauler and work truck. No single area of the vehicle better defines how well it will tackle those tasks than the bed. With just four standard tie-down points, the Nissan Frontier's bed makes it difficult to safely strap down large or small cargo boxes. Likewise, the bed's tailgate is heavy and lacks any kind of lift or drop assist. To make the bed more useful, more tie-down hooks and tailgate assist should be available for all trim levels, not just some trim levels.

 

Interior Upgrades

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The interior of the current Nissan Frontier is seriously dated, and this is where it's easiest for Nissan to make improvements and close the gap with competitors. Better material choices and improved multimedia technology will help but providing more standard features will help a great deal as well. Get rid of the manual mirrors, locks and window cranks, and let customers know you want to give them as much as possible for a reasonable price. They'll appreciate it.

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams

 

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Comments

I have a 2008 4x4 SE V6 with the value package. The load capacity is very much under rated. This small truck can handle a heavier load than my previous Dodge 1500. Handling on the 4x4 is tight but the turning circle is wide. The rear seats are useless in the king cab. Nissan needs to offer a delete option for the seats.
One thing that needs a cheap fix is the cabin air intake in the cowl. It needs to be screened off so small critters don't nest in the ventilation system. It has taken 4 years of frequent filter changes and ventilation cleaner sprays to remove the smell of one small squirrel.

If Ford, FCA and GM each made a value priced competitor to the current-generation Frontier they'd sell the hell out of it.

First thing that would happen is the price of Frontiers would come down, across the lineup, but especially at the entry price level. Presently Nissan has no competition at that price point.

I realize of course that GM and Ford have no interest in competing at that price, but if they did it would sell.

Toyota is not mentioned because they were unable to compete when they sold the stripped Tacoma in the past. They were smart to quit trying.

@PUTC
If Nissan changed all this, would it still be under $20k? Why not get the domestic makes to build one like this so THEY can be under $20k!

I don't get it. You're complaining about a bare bones base model not having what higher trim has?

Cab Options

Make a true regular cab in ALL trim levels.

Make a true regular cab in ALL trim levels.
Posted by: Soakee | Aug 7, 2018

@Soakee

You got that right. A comfortable regular cab option would sell.

Toyota is not mentioned because they were unable to compete when they sold the stripped Tacoma in the past. They were smart to quit trying.

@papadim
Should I respond to your crap. Really, you make yourself foolish, are you a school kid?

Are you tolling? Or are you a guerilla marketer?

Why does it have to be cheaper than a F-150?

Cars are sold at different prices and are different sizes.

Even pickups are sold at different prices, even though they are similar.

If a 3.2 4x4 dual cab high end Ranger could be sold for $40k, I think their would be a market.

I do understand the full sizers having a market. But if an outdated and expensive Tacoma can sell the numbers they do then a very modern diesel mid sizer would have a good chance.

I think we'll find out when the Colorado comes out, especially if there is a diesel variant. But I would think the 3.2 would be a better engine.

Midsize will have a market in the US. Especially with fleet buyers.

A SUV buyer would consider them also, like I did.

Does everyone have to have a GM or Ford because you do.

What is your point. What are you scared of? Do you work for Fiat?

If it has no chance why the trade barriers?

As the great guitar player Joe Walsh said: You can't argue with a sick mind.

Better than the new upcoming Ranger any day of the week and probably far more reliable.

Papadim,
You said the other day you wanted to keep people like me bout of the country.

Ishould move over. I spend enough time there.

I haven't stated what you stated either, sorry. You like the others have taken parts of my argument then try and base my arguments of that, ie taken out of context/distorted.

Pickups aside, the Big 3 have languished. They nearly went broke if it wasn't for the tax payer. This wasn't totally the manufacturer's fault. There are a raft of reasons for this occurance ie, regulations/protection, UAW, corporate culture etc.

The US auto industry is slowly restructing and heading in the direction of the UNECE umbrella. I can't see CAFE being of much use to your industry, it will gradually grind it down. This is no different than the VHS vs Beta battle, except bigger.

There is more and more compliance between US vehicles and what is on offer not only in Europe, but Asia, Africa and Oceania and this will continue throughout the restructuring period.

This is necessary for your industry to survive, including your commercial vehicles. Because of the protectionist environment of your motor vehicle manufacturing industry you now have to import technology. How many times have I stated I find this annoying, becasue the US should be able to contribute more.

I do believe what Lou has stated about the size of future 1/2 ton trucks being dimensionally similar as an HD. But what affect will this have on sales? You guys currently go on about the cost of a mid sizer, but what will it cost to own and operate a 1/2 ton of that size. Remember this is in the not to distant future.

I have stated a year ago about the cost of future technologies will make the cost of 1/2 ton pickups more expensive and small diesels will become competitive, now this is occurring. I got almost jeered of this site, by the some of the people who are in this current debate.

The fact a certain group don't like what I write doesn't change what is occuring. I feel I've pretty much be on song with my prediction of what is occurring now in your pickup market.

My argument has been to have a closer alignment to what the rest of us do and the consumer will benefit the most. This isn't anti American as much as my view McDonalds is crap.

I'm a proponent of all pickups and I have never stated otherwise, but the new generation of mid sizers would prove to be competitive against a 1/2 ton pickup. I have never stated all mid sizes and I have definitely stated your mid sizers are no match for your 1/2 ton trucks.

Very few of you have encountered a global Ranger you have no mid sizer that it can be compared against.

What I have just wrote I have been writing for over a year now I haven't changed my tune or will I until I see something different.

It's just like your comment you only use the parts to make your arguement correct. I'm sorry you are totally wrong.

When did Nissan announce the 2019 frontier???

I’d buy a Frontier before I’d even consider a Colorado or Canyon.

Fake TNTGMC

Get a f'kn life @$$ half...

I'm sorry you are totally wrong...Posted by: Ozman | Aug 7, 2018

@ozman

You needed a lot of words to say something so simple. Brevity is a virtue for you to consider (emphatically perhaps). I'm sorry you haven't appreciated my experience, my wit and desire to communicate.

So, in the future please ignore my comments and go in peace.

During the last few minutes a story popped up online regarding the Ranger. US pricing has been accidentally revealed with base model XL Supercabs starting at just over $24k

The base model includes 16 inch steel wheels and start/stop technology in addition to the standard 2.3 Ecoboost and 10 speed auto trans.

More to come.

papajim,
One last time in response to the economy.

The economy as it is now is still NOT the efforts of the current regime. It has taken years, actually since the GFC to put the US where it is now. Plus the US economy is not roaring, what dribble. The US economy has yet to reach its historical average.

The currernt GOP's input will take a few more years before they can lay claim to any performance measures, right now its still the efforts of the Dems having the greatest influence.

Stick to topics you have little knowledge, I then wonder why you comment on PUTC.

@ozman

Peace.

Go away Ozman the aggravating and the dumb. We are trying to talk trucks. Nobody cares what an Aussie thinks.

@ozman

one more thing.

Christine L could not hold any longer. She wants you to call her back. You do have her number, right?

Better than the new upcoming Ranger any day of the week and probably far more reliable.

Posted by: BA | Aug 7, 2018 4:15:27 PM

Agreed! I'd drive a fken Yugo before I would drive a new Ranger!!

@TNTGMC

I’d buy a Frontier before I’d even consider a Colorado or Canyon.


Posted by: TNTGMC | Aug 7, 2018 4:38:51 PM
——————————

Earlier saying you’d by the Titan over F150. And now this buying a Frontier over the GM midsizers.

I’m his cements the fact you’re an idiot

* this cements *

@papajim
Do you support the removal of the barriers and taxes that I think are distorting the pickup truck market.

Yes or No.

This is a 'yes' or 'no' response, not some response to deflect my question.

Simple.

Should CAFE, design regs, Chicken Tax be removed?

@ BA

You are truly clueless and insecure. That was the imposter. But I would drive a frontier before any ranger.... If it ever arrives in showrooms.

And yes, I'd take a titan with a diesel or gas engine over any oil burning, timing chain munching ecobust

U take my advice yet and seek help for your insecurity? U should

@TNTGMC

“ But I would drive a frontier before any ranger.... If it ever arrives in showrooms.

And yes, I'd take a titan with a diesel or gas engine over any oil burning, timing chain munching ecobust “

This speaks volumes on your stupidity.

buh-bye.

Not interested. It's been fun.

Let's just be friends. I've changed my number. Please don't take it hard. Your meds do seem to be working (again) I hope it doesn't hurt your feelings.

@ BA

FYI, I’m a gay liberal. Hence why I’d support a foreign company over Ford - the only N/A auto company that didn’t go bankrupt

@everyone
As I told papa jim.

If WE want this site to become better why don't all of us start to debate on merit, not brand or subjective views we hold towards each other.

This will mean to stop posting that almost spam like carp.

For instance, we do realise you have an affinity for GMs, but they aren't the end all be all in life.

All brands do have advantages and disadvantages.

But, make sure what you comment is accurate and not your over the top exaggerated views.

Ram on the other gand have increased in sales, which is good for the people who make them. But, they still have good and bad, the same as Ford, Mahindra and Mazda.

They all are pickups and one truck isn't the best at everything.

So every time you type some tolling comment for a bit you are removing credibility from yourself and PUTC.

So, why don't WE, including myself try and make an effort into the quality of the content we present and try to put forward objective information.

@Robert
I am American.

Useless article, with a bunch of cement heads commenting.

Get a new life.

Don't forget to call Christine, ahem, Ms LaGarde. She wants to know when you'll have her Benz back from the car wash.

@ BA

Your posts speak volumes of you and your character flaws....

@TNTGMC

Be proud of you gayness. Hang your head in shame for be being a leftist.

@ Frank:

How bout you get a life pal? S T F U and tr@ll somewhere else for a change like the DA Anonymous forum.

@TNT

Are you ok dude? Why are you talking to yourself?

910 LBS is for the 4 popper only. My V6 can haul 1,420 Lbs. Also the 4 cylinder tows 3,790 lbs while the 6 can get you up to 6,690 lbs when properly equipped. I’ll agree that some of the complaints listed make sense. I own a 2011 crew cab V6 4x4, so I don’t know anything about the rear hinged doors. But the ride is very truck like and the steering isn’t exactly Cadillac-ish. But, despite all that, I love my truck. It gets me where I need to go and does every job I’ve ever asked of it. That said, The best ride I’ve ever had in that truck was when I had a 13 foot trailer loaded with 3,500 lbs of paving stones on it. That was the smoothest ride it’s ever given me.

@Mark Willisms
The latest Navara version is vastly better than the vey ancient Frontier. Problem is it has hard time competing with the Hilux, Ranger it's now Stablemate the Triton. Nissan has to maje it a lot more competitive

Quite a few Nissan Frontiers were sold in the US since the date back in 2011 that Ford pulled out of the midsize/compact pickup market in North America. Look it up--it might surprise you.

Clearly not everyone agrees with the idea that small trucks need to be some kind of love boat. I would not hesitate to consider a Frontier if I get tired of my current truck, or if it gets tired of me.

@the fake papajim--I wouldn't either, but just considering doesn't buy. Is that some kind of fake support that is suppose to pay the bills? You either buy it you don't. Sales are down 40% in July. Clearly you haven't looked at the sales numbers in awhile. Nissan truck division is a total train wreck and you know it.

A half million Frontiers have been sold since the old Ranger was dropped.

Nothing to sneeze at. Ford paid a high price just to assure that F150 sales would not be impacted by selling cheaper compact trucks.

@papajim--Look at the price Nissan paid for ruining their truck division. They are selling less than half of what they considered to be success. I am not a Ford fan, but any means but even without Ranger, Ford is at an all time high for trucks and vans as you know. I know you worked for Volvo and have a soft spot for Nissan but you need to grasp reality. Reality.

papadim
Like I told you, if you keep the $hit up I'll be a thorn in your sides.

Hopefully the new Ram Mid-size will be smaller then the mid-sizers out there right now. My ZR2 is bigger then I need. I would like to go back to the size of the 1998-2000's with newtech engines, should be getting plus 30mpg 20 years later

Praises low price, balks at rudimentary amenities

did you call Christine yet?

This is an old design its true. Before the arrival of the new Colorado (back in 2013) it was superior to the Tacoma having much more V6 HP, a full boxed frame, and rear disc brakes but we never as liked as the Taco. The interior, exterior, suspension and steering are grossly dated and in need of upgrades. As far as "bedtech" the optional Nissan bed tie down system was very nice. The standard tie downs are barely adequate its true. Gimmicks like bed lights and dividers are rarely useful to many. The idea that a small truck tailgate needs an assist to be lifted is a sad sad sad thing for whoever felt that way and said/wrote it. I think what they meant to say was "gotta get back to the gym".

@papajim

Fixed that for you...

You got that right. A comfortable regular cab option would sell at a 1.5% take rate.

No one buys regular cabs but a select few. They tried that years ago and look what happened, everyone wants some extra room. Horrible financial decision to offer one these days.

@common sense

I remember seeing crew cab trucks back in the mid 1960s and they did not sell except to work crews perhaps. I think Dodge had one and International Harvester.

Then they were gone for decades. Now they are popular.

Regular cabs might make a return. Fashions come and go. We'll have to wait and see.

Mark! The Navara is not.coming here. Please stop saying that. It's going to be years before we see a new.truck. No one has seen it on the road either.

@doug

Nissan has no need for a new midsize. The one they have sells well enough and occupies the bargain worktruck space exclusively. Ford and GM really don't want to compete at that price point, apparently. Nissan can compete effectively with the Frontier for a few more years.

Nissan dealers are making their money with compact cars and cross-over SUVs. Mark's comments explain the changes that would help the Frontier as long as the Nissan dealers are happy the Frontier will stay the same.



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