First Drive: 2022 Nissan Frontier
It isn’t all new, but a new power train, a re-tuned chassis, and an entirely new look make it a much more refined midsized pickup
MONTEBELLO, Quebec – When it comes to the styling of the 2022 Nissan Frontier, the rounded edges of the first- and second-generation Frontier are out, in favour of the squared-off corners of a pickup from an earlier era. Nissan looked back into the last century for styling cues for the 2022 Frontier, apparently seeking styling inspiration from its boxy “Hardbody” pickup built between 1985 and 1997.
While the Frontier trailed behind its competitors in both technology and appearance when it was last available in Canada, it has now caught up on both fronts, and this despite riding on a mostly carried-over, 17-year-old undercarriage. In a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ the Frontier uses the same fully boxed frame as the outgoing model, but with several changes. Hydraulic mounts are used between the body and frame instead of rubber, which reduces road vibration by 80 per cent — that was a long-awaited change.
The chassis also has a larger-diameter front stabilizer bar, and a rear stabilizer bar has been added. The rack-and-pinion steering gear ratio has been revised for improved response. Also helping quiet the cabin is acoustic glass in the front doors, added insulation throughout, and about 40 other components have been either added or modified to reduce noise.
Nissan really got the styling right. The Frontier’s chiselled silhouette and high shoulder line give it a muscular, modern appearance, and while absurdly tall grilles are in vogue, Nissan avoided this trend and nailed it with the proportions of the front end, giving the Frontier a striking fascia. Front and rear LED exterior lighting is standard.
A combination of body configurations is available, with either a King Cab or Crew Cab, five-foot or six-foot bed. The King Cab (extended cabin) comes exclusively with the long bed; the crew cab is available with either bed depending on the trim.
Canada finally gets the new power train in the redesigned Frontier. The new V6 is built at Nissan’s Tennessee engine plant, where the Titan’s 5.8-litre V8 used to be manufactured, and it produces 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. It claims 13.7L/10.6L/12.3L city/hwy/combined, which compare to 15.8/11.5/13.9 respectively for the 4.0-litre — and the new engine makes 49 horsepower more.
Added to the bed on all trims for 2022 is a damped tailgate, so you can let it go once it’s unlatched and not worry about it slamming down hard. Bed height has increased by 2.6 cm, which effectively increases its volume. The Frontier can tow up to 6,490 lbs if adequately equipped, and trailer-sway control is standard, which automatically applies the brakes if the trailer begins to sway. Cargo capacity is up to 1,430 lbs.
The interior is all new, and is a big improvement over the last model. It’s modern, it’s comfortable and spacious up front, and it’s more driver centric. The rear on the Crew Cab isn’t as roomy, and taller passengers will find legroom a bit cramped. King Cab models have folding rear jumper seats designed for nano-humans.
An eight-inch centre touchscreen is standard; a nine-inch is available, and is the biggest in the segment. A new centre console places the shift lever closer to the driver, and within the console is a four-litre storage compartment. Another 6.5 litres of storage can be found in the front doors, 5.7 litres in the rear doors, and there’s even more storage space under the rear seats.