2018 Nissan Frontier Preview

  • Standard rearview camera
  • Standard air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, hands-free phone, 5.0-in. touch screen, and Siri Eyes Free
  • Standard tailgate spoiler
  • New Midnight Edition black-out package on Crew Cab SV

The Nissan Frontier pickup, originally introduced as a small truck in 1998, was later transformed into a body-on-frame midsize pickup in 2005. The Frontier slots below the Titan large pickup and ranks as third-best seller in the Midsize Pickup segment behind the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado. It’s likely that the Frontier, built at Nissan’s Canton, MS, plant, will be redone or refreshed for 2019. Although long-of-tooth, the Frontier still sells well, but may have stiff competition with the Ford Ranger returning to market for 2019.

Exterior Features
The 2018 Frontier midsize pickup truck is built on a sturdy platform for hauling and off-road gambits. Styling features an angled strut grille, large bumpers, short frame, and rear overhangs with stamped-steel geometric fender flares. The Frontier features a tinted front window, rear privacy glass, and hitch ball provision on the rear bumper.

Two body styles—King Cab and 4-door Crew Cab—with two bed lengths (5 ft. and 6.1 ft.) are available in five trims: S (4-cylinder and V-6), SV (4-cylinder and V-6), PRO-4X (4x4 V-6 only), Desert Runner (4x2 V-6 only) for off-roading, and SL (Crew Cab V-6 only).

Interior Features
The 2018 Nissan Frontier King Cab has rear-hinged doors that open outward for easy access. Storage features include flip-up rear-seat cushions with under-seat removable tray stowing. Auxiliary power outlets can charge a smartphone. On the Crew Cab, which seats 5, a 60/40 split rear bench seat flattens to provide more cargo room.

Optional Features
Nissan’s Midnight Edition “blackout” appearance package is available on the Crew Cab SV trim (4x2 and 4x4) with automatic transmission. Included are a gloss-black grille, 18-in. gloss black aluminum alloy wheels, semi-gloss black step rails, body-color front and rear bumpers, and black side mirrors, door handles, and badging.

Four more option packages include an S Work Truck package with bedliner, mats and splash guards, plus SV Value Truck package that adds rear sonar, dual climate control, extra speakers, dimming mirror with compass, heated cloth seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. A Crew Cab PRO-4X Premium package features power-adjustable leather seats, moonroof, roof rack, and other elements.

For 4x4 trucks, Nissan offers an optional 4-wheel limited-slip system for grip on low-traction surfaces. Hill-descent control and hill-start assist also are available on all Frontiers equipped with a V-6 engine.

Under the Hood
The 2018 Frontier comes equipped with a choice of two engines. Nissan’s 4.0-liter DOHC V-6 engine generates 261 horsepower and 281 lb.-ft. of torque. Also, a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine for the King Cab can be matched with a 5-speed manual, while the V-6 partners with a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.

While it may not be fancy or the newest model on the block, the Frontier is a great hauler. The rear-wheel-drive (RWD) S with V-6 can carry a payload of 1,460 lbs. with 5-speed automatic transmission. Pickups with a 4-cylinder engine can tow up to 3,500 lbs. and outfitted V-6 trucks can tow up to 6,500 lbs.

Fuel Economy
The 4-cylinder-powered 2-wheel-drive (4x2) pickup with manual transmission is EPA rated at 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway. With automatic, it averages 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway. With V-6 power, the 2018 Frontier (4x2) gets 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and the 4WD gets 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy. When the V-6 is matched with an automatic transmission, it averages 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway (4x2) while the manual gets 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway (4x4).

Being an older design, the Nissan Frontier offers none of the latest driver-assistance or collision-avoidance technologies. It does feature a full suite of air bags, but then so does every other pickup truck on the market.

It doesn’t get particularly good safety ratings, either. Witness, the 2018 Nissan Frontier RWD Crew and King Cab styles receive 3 stars (out of 5) in frontal crash protection and 3 and 4 stars in rollover tests, respectively, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). All-wheel-drive variants receive 4 stars for rollover safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the Frontier earns a “Marginal” driver-side front crashworthiness rating and “Good” ratings for overlap front, side safety, and roof strength. Head restraints and seats earn an “Acceptable” rating, while the truck’s headlights earn the lowest-possible “Poor” rating. Clearly, if superior crash-test ratings and the latest safety tech are important to you, look elsewhere.

The 2018 Nissan Frontier doesn’t offer much of the latest technology, but it does come with a standard NissanConnect 5.0-in. touch-screen interface with Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging, and smartphone integration. NissanConnect with Voice Recognition navigation and audio plus Mobile Apps with 5.8-in. display comes standard on SL and PRO-4X trims.
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