While we applaud Nissan for cranking out near endless choices for this year’s pickup truck configurations, models, and packages, enough is enough. There is such a thing as spreading oneself too thin and it seems Nissan’s drive to overtake the domestic brand pickup powerhouses is proof of that. Although the 2017 Nissan Frontier is set to expand the brand’s boundaries, and push past the progress of its predecessors, it seems the lackluster legacy is ingrained in the Frontier’s DNA.
Motor Trend tried to highlight the merits of this year’s Frontier – including its maneuverability, low-end torque on its available V6 engine, and configurations a-plenty, but ultimately, we have to ask – what good is the quantity of choices if the quality of each one lags behind the competition?
The 2017 Nissan Frontier – Foiled by a Lackluster Legacy
According to Motor Trend, Nissan’s Frontier has long elicited reviews that basically resonate as: meh. Consider MT’s take on the 2012 Nissan Frontier 4×4 PRO-4X model:
“Though the aging interior and trusty V-6 engine seemed to be a common complaint when the Motor Trend staff borrowed the truck, the Frontier is enduring and fun to drive with carlike steering, an easy-to-shift six-speed gearbox, the PRO-4X suspension package that rides well on- and off-road, and the ‘just-my-size’ feel for the weekend projecteer or the on-the-fly adventure seeker.”
The 2015 model year didn’t return much better results, especially not after the Frontier’s PRO-4X was put to the test against Toyota’s Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevy’s Colorado Z71 off-roading beast. When asked, the MT team wrapped up their collective thoughts by sayig: “[Kim] Reynolds speculates Frontier buyers are more interested in the cool lifestyle activities the truck encourages (bike riding, canoeing) than the truck itself. He’s probably right.”
What’s Plaguing the 2017 Nissan Frontier?
First of all, the available 3.6-liter V6 engine, generating 261 horsepower and 281 lb.-ft. of torque sounds like it’s suffering from smoker’s cough, no matter which transmission you pair it with (6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic). Opting for the standard 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine nets you an underwhelming 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.
The ride quality is uncomfortable and might have you believing you’re actually behind the wheel or sitting shotgun in a bumper car. No matter where you’re sitting, you’ll notice that the interior is about as plain and bare bones as they come.
Whether you’re riding solo or sharing the space with passengers (available configurations include the King Cab, with 73.3-inch bed or Crew Cab with either a 59.5-inch or 73.3-inch bed), the safety of the Frontier is arguably sub-par, at least as compared to its competitors. (of which there are plenty)
The IIHS rated the Frontier as “Good” in moderate front overlap and side tests, but found it only “Acceptable” when it came to head restraints and seats, with “Poor” headlight quality. Yeah, who needs illumination? Seeing your way clearly on the road is so overrated.
Final verdict: the domestic brands are still the prizes when it comes to the current pickup truck scene.