Nissan, as a truck manufacturer in the North American market, is one of the smaller players. So, while its market share is small, its truck history is anything but. Nissan can trace the roots of the new Frontier back to its entry into the US market in 1959. And, as truck industry watchers know, new truck models are benchmarks in evolution — not revolution. This is true for 2022; just look at how we got here.
Marketed in North America as Datsun till 1984, these compact pickups acquired a reputation for solid, economical performance. That success, particularly through the ‘70s led to the first Nissan “Hardbody” pickup in 1985. A decade of sales success led to the first generation of the “Frontier” branded truck in 1997.
Along the way, gaining sales, Frontier can claim several “firsts” in the compact market. In 1999, it became the first compact pickup to offer four full-size forward hinged doors. In 2001, it was the first to install a supercharger in a compact. In 2002 it offered a six-foot bed with a Crew Cab. In 2005 it offered the first factory-applied spray-on bedliner. Finally, in 2020 it introduced a new engine that makes 310hp — the most in the current compact (mid-size) segment.
So, that’s the history. And while the truck has a solid reputation, it had gotten very old, with the last generation being introduced back in 2005. With such a long time since the last update, watchers and fans alike expect a lot from this 2022 model. So, let’s see if Nissan has delivered.
The new key features are as follows:
- Powertrain: 3.8L direct injection V6 making 310hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 9-speed automatic. With the 4WD package comes a High/Low transfer case.
- Suspension – Front: Independent double-wishbone with twin-tube shock absorbers and a hollow stabilizer bar. Rear: Solid rear axle with over-slung multi-leaf springs.
- Wheelbase: Either 126 or 139.8 inches.
- Body: Available as King Cab (short wb) or Crew Cab (long wb).
- Bed dimensions: Either 5 or 6-foot (varies by model). Bed depth is 19.4 inches.
- Payload: 1,400 lb Max.
- Towing: 6,490 lb Max.
A lot of effort has gone into the design of this new Frontier. The first impression is one of a powerful front end featuring a massive grille and chiseled hood. It’s framed by new interlocking headlights with a sweep back design. The truck shows off a wide, elevated stance with vertical fenders that evoke durability and strength. The high shoulder bodysides – where natural light and shadows meet- also lifts the truck visually.
In the rear, the new lighting has a machined, structural look, with the lamps looking like they are clamped to the body sides. The muscular rear fenders flow into a substantial, blocky rear bumper to complete the athletic look of the truck.
Two areas where the current Frontier had fallen way behind its competitors are safety systems and infotainment. Those have now been brought up to date. First with Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 which includes:
- Class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking
- Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection
- Blind Spot Warning
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Lane Departure Warning
- High Beam Assist
- Intelligent Driver Alertness
- Intelligent Cruise Control
Secondly, inside, Nissan now offers the largest-in-class 9-inch colour touchscreen along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This feature is standard on all models. Housed in the new centre stack – the rest of the controls are simplified and intuitive, allowing for a user-friendly experience, says Nissan.
In the dash you’ll find a second standard, largest-in-class 7-inch Advanced Driver Assist Display. Apart from the size this driver info station is fully configurable by the driver. The dash, wheel, console and centre stack feature new trims, finishers and accents inspired by adventure gear, says Nissan.
Standard on all models are two front USB ports (one Type-A, one Type-C), two front 12V outlets and Siri Eyes Free. Two 110V outlets with 400-watt capability — one in the rear, one in the bed — are available on SV and standard on PRO-4X models. Fender Premium Audio with nine speakers is available on PRO-4X Crew Cab.
As for drive modes, only one 2WD version will be offered in Canada. The King Cab “S” Trim will be available by special order to accommodate fleet customers. Otherwise, 4WD will be the standard drivetrain in Canada. This will include Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control standard.
As for unique Canadian models, there is one: The Frontier King Cab PRO-4X with 6-foot bed. This sold- only-in-Canada model will feature shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes. Frontier also has a 4-wheel limited-slip system. The PRO-4X model adds an electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and underbody skid plates.
Cargo bed utility includes available factory-applied spray-on bedliner and the Utili-track Channel System with its three “C” cross-section rails mounted in the bed. In addition, four fixed bed tie-down hooks help secure gear. Everything is illuminated by new (available) LED bed lights. Also new is a dampened tailgate assist — standard on all models.
The 2022 Frontier King Cab is offered with 4WD for all grades: S, SV and PRO-4X. The Crew Cab versions come exclusively with 4WD in grades – SV and PRO-4X.
A 5-foot bed is standard on the PRO-4X Crew Cab, while a 6-foot bed is standard on Crew Cab SV Long Wheelbase models. A 6-foot bed is also standard on all King Cab models.
Pricing for the new Frontier will be released sometime this summer. Units will probably arrive at dealers this fall.
Photos courtesy of Nissan