Is There an Affordable Pickup? Yes, the Nissan Frontier

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The burgeoning mid-size pickup truck class is getting ready to move into a new phase: Ford is bringing back the Ranger; Mercedes-Benz is contemplating jumping into the work-truck class; and Volkswagen is close to making the global Amarok a competitive U.S. player. More recently, we've seen a new generation of the Honda Ridgeline and the smashing success of GM's big two-truck gamble in the form of the solid-selling Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. But that's not all.

In the middle of all this activity is the Nissan Frontier, the oldest of the mid-size pickups for sale in the U.S. But that will change when an all-new Frontier based on the global Nissan Navara comes out in a year or two, after it completes all the federally mandated safety and crash tests.

That's good news for buyers looking for the most economical mid-size pickup available, because the current-generation Nissan Frontier happens to be a pretty good deal. It's not without its faults, as reviewer Joe Bruzek found after spending some time in a "new" Frontier Pro-4X. While he found of plenty issues with the aging pickup, he also was appreciative of its "get what you pay for" personality. Click here to read the full review.

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The identical version we get has a huge following of loyalists (a bit like the HILUX fan) of being a no-nonsense work & daily driver truck.

The only (US-market) pickup I can think of that's available at a starting price under $20K

@Mark Williams
Mercedes already has a " Work Truck Class" in the US. It is called Freightliner.
As far the Mercedes Pickup, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu Pickup, Nissan Navarra and VW Amarok they are all Diesels with no suitable alternative Gas engine.
If Nissan goes ahead and builds the Frontier based on the Navara,in the US, then you could have a suitable Gas engine alternative

@Robert Ryan

I think Mr Williams is making reference to pickups. Hence the name

So am I . MB in the US is interested in major money spinners for it in the US Freightliner Heavy Trucks and it's Van division.
As it has on many occasions said the Mercedes Benz Pickup is not destined for the US.
Volkswagen has a similar mindset buying into Navistar improving it's systems and engines.
VW will be introducing EV distrubyion vehicles into Navistar lineup

A year or two? They've been saying that for a decade. Where's that Cummins?

As usual when pursued Robert makes a full circle.

Nissan builds the only truck that is not a technology burden. In 10 years off off-road pounding all those other trucks with smooth ride will have bad sensors, bad computers, and will be worthless. I can drive better than a computer off road. Stick roll up windows, manual lockouts. What's the first thing everyone does to Jeep's. Highest selling doesn't even have a/c. I do own a frontier.


You're so right. Off road pickups are an entirely different animal.

I own a 2008 SE V6 4x4 and have absolutely no problems with this truck due to the manufacturer. The critters that want to live in it are another problem. If you buy one pull off the cowl cover and put screen on the fresh air intake. Otherwise you have a squirrels nest on the cabin air filter.
The truck is a solid hauler and will out haul most full size half tons.

You have to explain the connections, not nany people in tbe US can understand them or are aware of them

I purchased a 2017 Frontier. While it might be behind the times a bit it is still a great truck. Pulls my 5500lbs camper with no problem.

I have personally seen the Navara. It comes with a sweet 4 cylinder diesel. It’s also a bit of a crossover truck, like the ridgeline. I like that. It’s more practical seeing that most people don’t do hardcore off-roading and we prefer a smoother drive with better gas mileage. But let’s face it. The reason the first generation ridgeline didn’t sell is because it isn’t sexy. People like having a truck they feel they can take literally anywhere. A crossover truck like the new pathfinder and ridgeline just isn’t that. Although it’ll take you anywhere you’re likely to go.
Bring it to the US. I just might buy one since all the current trucks are gas hogs (unless you go with a Chevy diesel but those are not cheap... defeats the purpose of being economical)

If Nissan were smart they would price the new Frontier slightly below the competition. The current generation of Frontier is a good deal despite it being long in the tooth. Nissan would eventually be forced to replace the current Frontier due to safety standards as Ford would have had to have done with the prior Ranger. For now if a buyer is looking for a midsize truck that is affordably priced now would be a good time to buy a Frontier.

@ Jeff S
Any replacement is goong to cost as much as a Colorado. El Ceapo Pickups disappeared a long time ago in Australia

@Robert Ryan--True, but Nissan should make their MSRP less. Much easier to have a cheaper price with a car or truck that has been produced for years with little or no change. This was true for the prior Ford Ranger and the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis. Design and tooling costs have been paid off. My point is if a truck buyer who wants and needs a midsize truck should take a serious look at the Frontier because the opportunity to buy an affordable one will not last much longer.

It suffers from the same issue as all pretend little trucks... for 3 or 4K more and 2 mpg less you can buy a full size half ton truck with ALOT more power, ALOT more room, ALOT more towing capacity, and ALOT more cargo capacity/bed space.

If youre not into getting more of "that stuff" then why are you buying a truck? If youre smart go get a nice car or crossover.

If not, and you MUST still look cool, that's fine they'll take your money for less truck.

Stephen Galaso: The Navara is a body on frame vehicle, not a crossover, which would be a car-based unibody design.

@Mark, you forgot the Jeep pickup truck!

Frontier is not a bad truck for the money. Turning radius is pretty huge for a mid-size, though.

In reference to the "truck trends" article from the other day, I think we are going to see less ability to modify trucks in the future. For example, mfrs will be making wheel wells smaller to enhance fuel efficiency, and that will make it harder to add larger aftermarket wheels/tires.

I think there are many who would be happy to see the current Frontier soldier on as an "old-school" truck choice, especially if an updated version costs substantially more for the same capability.

B- I agree, although the off road market and years of abuse are not common at all, which is why these trucks are majority daily drivers and come with all the components and gadgets, because that is what people want. For the older generation change is hard, but most people want the gadgets now a days. I am 41, and love the gadgets. Innovation is what I crave, then again its also my daily job in what i do as well.


Forget the truck, i'll take that 240Z on the trailer shown in the top picture.

One of my crew has had two of these over the last 15 yrs. His first one was a totally stripped down regular cab model.
He leased the second, model, because he needed more room inside and found out AC is a necessity in Texas. It was cramped for my 6' frame, but he is shorter and fit him nicely.

Advise I can relay is; Just because it has a hole in the bumper for a ball hitch, doesn't mean it's a good idea to use it for much more than light trailering. He bent the hell out of that bumper.

Never attach a trailer to a bumper. Get a proper hitch that fastens to the frame.

They teased us with a c*mmins diesel.
Now where the h*ll is it?

My buddy who owns a Nissan/Datsun dealership says the Frontier is a cash cow for them. Just Like the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler are for Jeep. Every 10 or so years a refresh....

Jeff S,
The "new" Navara is more expensive than the old. The only way to have a cheaper one is to import them.

I don't envisage the US recieving the Amarok or X Class. The Chicken Tax makes it unviable for import.

Why have a tax if no money is collected on the tax? Is it a tax?

The only way to have the Amarok and X Class in the US is to have them manufactured in Mexico for the Latin American market as well. VW already have an Amarok plant in Argentina.

But with NAFTA under the spot light and the current Russian supported America Alone President, things are bound to go awry.

Love my Frontier. Does everything I ask, fits in my garage and I can still afford to eat out. It’s a 2011 S 4X4 that tows and hauls just fine for my needs. It’s great for hunting and fishing. It’s lightweight and I don’t have to worry about it getting scratched by branches on those tight fire roads. If I were pulling a cattle trailer or hot shot loads on a weekly basis, I’d get a bigger truck. But for sensible people, the Frontier is the midsize truck to go for.

"...America Alone President, things are bound to go awry."

Spoken like a true idiot.

In fact, the US economy has roared during the last 18 mos. So much so that it even dragged the moribund EU economy along, something no sensible person would have believed 2 years ago.

Agree about the Chicken Tax being a penalty with no useful purpose, however.

@Jeff S
No the Navara or your Frontier is not going to be cheaper. Cheap and cheerful Frontier will disappear with the Navara derived Frontier
Latest here is Nissan is now looking at using the 3 Litre V6 Mercedes Benz Diesel with in house Nismo doing the chassis for an upmarket Navara

The economy as it is now is 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 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.

My current global Ranger Wildtrak w/3.2 TD can run rings around this old & new platforms from Nissan & more good news; it seems it will be introduced to the US market soon & Ranger will definitely mop the floor with all current diesel midsizers too....|30

@Robert Ryan and Big Al--Again I think you missed my point. I said anyone who wanted a cheap affordable pickup should get a Frontier before they disappear. I also said that if Nissan put the price of the new Frontier/Navara slightly below the price of the other midsize trucks it would be good marketing. Cheap inexpensive vehicles are going the way of the 10 cent cigar and nickle cola. Robert what product is cheap in today's market except maybe a calculator at Walmart. i do believe eventually there will be a glut of midsize trucks which will result in some serious discounting. I probably will keep what I currently have till I no longer need them since I drive less and keep my vehicles in excellent condition. Will likely give my S-10 to one of my nephews who will likely customize it and put a V-8 in it but even then I will have had it for over 20 years. My Isuzu has very low miles and will likely be my last truck. If I were in the market for a new pickup I would most likely buy one of these Frontiers. I saw a leftover 2017 for less than 20k new with power windows and everything--sure it was an extended cab 2 wheel drive with a 4 cylinder and an automatic but that is still a decent deal for a new truck.

I bought a 2017 8 months ago brand new 4 cyl 2 door with the half back doors factory 31 inch tires this piece of crap gets worse fuel economy than a v8 4x4 ford i drives very good but the fuel economy sucks will never buy from nissan again going back to toyota

The US economy continues to lead all western nations by a considerable margin. Pay no attention to anyone who says otherwise.

Lead the Western economies?

Not Australia's yet.

Maybe the EU, but Western or better still OECD economies are more than just the UK or Greece.

Have a read and weep papajim. The US is being out competed by quite a few "Western" nations. Stick to what you understand, obviously not economics.

Have you gotten that Suburban you deserve, or have you made poor financial judgement?

You sound silly.

The US economy continues to lead all western nations by a considerable margin. Pay no attention to anyone who says otherwise.

Posted by: papajim | Feb 22, 2018 5:39:10 PM

The higher you go the harder the fall.

That's my concern with the current situation with the US economy. It's lived on borrowed money and cheap interest rates for so long and now they want to continue that trend.

I read a very good article on how the US was going into recession by 2019, or thereabouts, but the borrowing of the currently US regime will push it out for a couple of years with a much harder landing, expotentially as well.

It might of been wiser to have a shorter recession sooner, than a large wallop a couple of years later.

"The US economy continues to lead all western nations by a considerable margin. Pay no attention to anyone who says otherwise."

If you throw in the qualifier "all western nations" then yes.

USA GDP growth rate was 137th in the world in 2017.

All depends on what you chose to measure!

Twilight Zone,
Um, even among us "Western" nations the US was still not leading, even in 2018.

The US economy has improved from the base it fell to after the GFC, but it still needs to move up 25 to 33% to be at it's average. That is a significant rise.

The D40 was never my favourite pickup, whether it's called a Navara or Frontier.

The newer Navara is better all round than the D40 and it comes with two basic variations, coils and leaf sprung rear end.

The US tends to change these vehicles to reduce costs, most of the changes are structural, this is normally evident by checking the vehicles weight.

I did read several years ago the US was going to get the narrow body version of the global Navara. This might work as there are a few who consider the new midsizers to big.

Al is measuring the economy based on its growth rate. Fine.

So, if Timbuku's GDP goes from one bushel of sh*t to two bushels of sh*t annually they have a 100 percent growth rate. I guess that means Al would rate them ahead of the US.


TFL Truck covered this in detail last year. I don't think anything has changed....

@Big Al--The most important thing about buying any vehicle is buy a vehicle that you like and will drive for a number of years. Vehicle depreciation is greater in the first 5 years and just because a vehicle is cheaper initially doesn't make it a good choice if you do not intend on keeping it very long. For me a 2wd Frontier would easily meet my needs and I would most likely keep it at least 10 years unless it was a complete lemon or if it were totaled. I agree there are newer more capable trucks that are large and midsize in the market but for the price the Frontier is hard to bet, but only if it is the right truck for you. This also might be a good used truck since many of them are not kept long especially if you find a low mileage newer model. I view buying a vehicle different than many on this site in that I am less brand conscious and more on what meets my needs at a good price. That is how I bought my Isuzu which was 10k off for a crew cab 4x4 with towing package, heated leather seats, fog lights and many other options (I paid 21k cash for it new). If I planned on keeping it for 5 years or less then this might have not been a good buy because discontinued brands tend to depreciation much faster but since I have had it for 10 years then I can justify my purchase. Buy what you like and want otherwise you will be dissatisfied and will not keep it losing a lot of money on depreciation.

Jeff S,
I think in the US limited choice is elevating the Frontier to a position that is not quite realistic. In the US with the few midsizers you have the Frontier is deemed, as I would rather word it "the best possible option for value".

As for good and price competive midsizers you have, Izuzu Dmax, loosely based on the Colorado, Mazda BT50, based on the Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Foton Tunland, Cummins powered, Renault Alaskan pickup. I'm talking previous Frontier/Navara like you guys have in the US.

East Germany's best value car was the Trabant, but they had limited options as well.

@Big Al--That might be true but if you are in the USA you have to buy what is available. Hard to import anything else with the Government regulations even a used vehicle which is susceptible to regulations and tariffs. In a totally free market this would not be a problem but for now this is what it is. At least there is more midsize trucks available than a few years ago and with the new Ranger there will be additional choice. I could easily live with any of the current midsize trucks available in the US market but I have my own preferences that would favor certain midsize trucks. The Frontier would be one of my choices if I were in the market for a new or late model used truck. The Frontier is a good truck for the money despite its aging platform. Not everyone needs or wants the latest and greatest and the more electronics and gizmos the more that can go wrong especially if you keep a vehicle for a long time which I do. Replacing electronics and computers can be more expensive than many of the pure mechanical parts. Much harder today to find a new vehicle that is truly basic without all the complicated electronics especially in the form of a work truck.

The current, although dated, Frontier has excellent brakes, a very good drivetrain and comfortable interior as standard equipment. It offers buyers a choice between a widely available manual transmission and a dependable automatic.

The vehicle was far ahead of the competition when it was first released, about 10 years ago. Today it's lagging in comparison to the GM twins, and offers no diesel.

The Ford is still a year away, and the Toyota Tacoma is another outdated truck that was given a splash of makeup and lipstick a couple of years ago.

Any complaints about the Frontier say less about that truck, and more about the current competition in the North American market, which until recently limped along with a sluggish consumer economy in both Canada and the US.

Hard to fault the automakers for carefully addressing a weak marketplace, chicken tax or not. Now the market is hot and product is taking some time to reach the market.

Too bad Nissan did not deem it appropriate to drop a 4 cylinder diesel into the current Frontier as a stopgap measure until the new model arrives. It would have made them a player.

@papajim--Agree with your above comment. The Frontier is still a competent but dated truck but as you said the competition which until recently was not much. The Colorado/Canyon and the soon to come Ranger have upped the ante for midsize trucks which has been a neglected segment of the market. As you stated the Toyota Tacoma has the same issue as the Frontier in that it is a dated platform. More competition will give both Nissan and Toyota more incentive to introduce a new truck. I understand where Big Al is coming from but we must deal with what midsize trucks are and will be available in the US market and not with the Chicken Tax and current regulations which are a given and not what should or should not happen. Eventually the Chicken Tax will probably go away but one can only hypothesis when and my view on that is not anytime soon.

A good 4 cylinder diesel in the Frontier would be a good stop gap measure.

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