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A gray 2023 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X is shown parked on a mountain after visiting a Nissan Frontier for sale.

Midsize Trucks With V6 Engines: Does the Nissan Frontier Reign Supreme?

In 2023, the number of midsize trucks with V6 engines available for sale is shrinking. The Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon recently traded in their six-cylinder power plants for turbo-fours, and the Ford Ranger has had a four-cylinder since its return to Canada in 2019. However, many drivers continue to prefer the reliability and power of a traditional V6 engine, and there are still a few V6 options available, including the ever-popular Toyota Tacoma and the rugged Jeep Gladiator. But the best pick might just be the dark horse of the lot: the 2023 Nissan Frontier.

After not seeing any major changes for an unbelievable 18 years, the Frontier received a full redesign in 2022 that some claim catapulted it to the head of the pack. But before heading out to find a Nissan Frontier for sale, you may be wondering if there’s any truth behind the hype. To determine if the 2023 Nissan Frontier is truly the best, we’re going to put it up against its competitors to analyze its unique strengths and weaknesses. We’ll examine the four midsize trucks still available with V6 engines in 2023––the Nissan Frontier, the Jeep Gladiator, the Honda Ridgeline, and the Toyota Tacoma––to see which is the overall favourite for the best V6 truck available.

2023 Nissan Frontier

Starting at $40,998, the 2023 Nissan Frontier is a powerful truck that comes standard with the most powerful V6 engine in the segment. This 3.8-litre produces 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, handily exceeding the competition. That power extends to all aspects of the vehicle. The Frontier can tow up to 2,944 kg, an impressive number that will allow you to take along whatever cargo you need, such as trailers, small boats, campers, and more.

When you decide to tow heavy payloads, you’ll also feel more in control with the Frontier than with other midsize V6 trucks. That’s because of Nissan’s exclusive towing technology features like the Intelligent Around View Monitor and motion-correcting Tailor Sway Control to keep your precious cargo in line. With a driver-selectable Tow-Haul Mode, the 2023 Frontier is fully prepared to be the towing machine of your dreams. The Frontier also has standard four-wheel drive, improving its off-road capabilities and making sure you can use that trademark power wherever you go.

The power of the Nissan Frontier is paired with a nine-speed transmission for smooth acceleration. This is one of the newer transmissions in the segment and provides improved power and efficiency over older designs like the six-speed automatic in the 2023 Toyota Tacoma. Furthermore, Nissan’s midsize machine has a robust and broad body built for dominating dirt paths, city streets, and highway lanes. The 2023 Nissan Frontier specializes in power and performance and is an ideal choice for drivers who want to maximize the capability of their trucks.

2023 Jeep Gladiator

As expected, Jeep has produced a dependable vehicle with all-terrain capabilities. The 2023 Jeep Gladiator is aptly named and a true road warrior compared to many other midsize V6 trucks. The Gladiator utilizes a powerful 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine that provides Jeep’s trademark robust performance and unparalleled versatility. With 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, this engine is less potent than the Frontier’s 3.8-litre V6 but still provides ample power for dominating off-road trails and hauling heavy loads.

While the main selling point of the Gladiator is its off-road performance and classic Jeep style, it is still a true pickup truck. The 2023 Gladiator offers exceptional towing and payload capabilities for a truck of its size. Able to tow up to 3,492 kg with its V6 engine, the Gladiator will be able to take your payload through thick and thin, no matter how large it is. But towing isn’t the limit of the Gladiator’s versatility.

Even the truck bed of the Gladiator is designed to be practical and versatile. It holds your cargo securely and keeps it protected on bumpy rides. Additionally, the truck bed can be customized with optional accessories and configured in multiple ways to work best for you. However, the Gladiator is only available with a 1.5 m short bed, while the Frontier can be equipped with a 1.9 m long bed. The Gladiator is an excellent choice for truckers who desire a unique midsize model that can take their cargo anywhere and everywhere. But its higher price, less powerful engine, and smaller bed mean it lags behind the Frontier in many traditional measures of pickup performance.

A gray 2023 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X is shown driving off-road.

2023 Honda Ridgeline

The 2023 Honda Ridgeline is another well-rounded midsize truck that utilizes its standard V6 engine to the fullest. The 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque are about average for this segment, but what draws us to the 2023 Ridgeline is the intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) all-wheel drive system. This torque-vectoring system provides incredible handling on the road and pairs well with the vehicle’s unique unibody construction that it shares with the Honda Pilot SUV. That driving experience doesn’t seem to falter, even in bad weather.

The Ridgeline’s intelligent engineering makes another appearance with the Intelligent Traction Management System. Honda’s smooth driving will persist with modes for Mud, Snow, and Sand. However, our favourite part of the driving experience is just how long it can go on. The 2023 Ridgeline is remarkably efficient, with a rated fuel economy of 11.5 L/100 km combined and multiple features to increase efficiency. If you’re looking for an efficient, smooth-sailing midsize truck, the 2023 Ridgeline is a safe bet. But those attributes may become a handicap in harsher terrain that requires body-on-frame construction and real four-wheel drive.

2023 Toyota Tacoma

The 2023 Tacoma is one of Toyota’s most reliable trucks, but its aging design doesn’t seem to justify its high starting price of $44,635. For instance, the 3.5-litre V6 engine produces just 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, making it the least powerful V6 option on the market. Still, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma can tow up to 2,948 kg, which is up to par with some of the other options in the V6 truck market. The Tacoma is also popular with truck enthusiasts for its optional six-speed manual transmission, although the standard six-speed automatic is the worst transmission in the segment.

The 2023 Tacoma also has a unique Crawl Control feature that is designed for driving in treacherous terrain, and its TRD variants are filled with additional adventure-ready components. Even with its less-than-exceptional powertrain, the Tacoma is no slouch off the road. There isn’t a single overwhelming highlight of the 2023 Tacoma that stands out; rather, it’s how well-rounded this midsize truck is that attracts many drivers.

A gray 2023 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X is shown off-roading.

More Power for Less Money

As you’ve probably surmised by now, there are still plenty of wonderful options for those of us looking for a V6 engine truck for sale. But after this close race, does the 2023 Nissan Frontier deserve our first-place vote? We think that it does for several reasons. First and foremost, the 2023 Frontier is the most affordable way to get a V6 engine in a brand-new midsize truck, with a starting price that undercuts the Gladiator, Ridgeline, and Tacoma.

Despite costing less than all of its rivals, the 2023 Frontier has one the most powerful naturally-aspirated V6 engines on the market, with more horsepower available than any other truck on this list. While it doesn’t have the highest available towing capacity, its 2,944 kg rating is still very competitive, and we found the towing features of the Frontier more than made up for the half-tonne difference between it and the Jeep Gladiator.

The 2023 Frontier is versatile and adaptable and performs strongly in all the key departments. Comparatively, we feel the other options may excel at one aspect but falter in others. For instance, the Ridgeline excels on paved roads but lacks the rugged build needed for off-roading, while the Gladiator prioritizes off-road style over pickup truck functionality. Due to its excellence in multiple areas and affordable starting price, the 2023 Nissan Frontier is our pick for the best V6 midsize truck in Canada.

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