Midsize trucks are coming back with a revival to the segment, and the 2022 Nissan Frontier is one of the trucks that is seeing an upgrade after a long, long wait for a generation reset. New features like a larger infotainment screen, a new steering system, and a redesigned interior are a few of the changes for the 2022 Frontier. Those who have driven the Frontiers of the past will likely notice a different feel to the ride quality, thanks to an upgraded suspension, though the engine and transmission are carried over from the past two model years. A refreshed off-road model tops out the trim levels for anyone who prefers a truck for trail riding, and lots of new driver-assist and tech features are added to what the 2022 Frontier has to offer.
While the new design changes are welcome to the Frontier after 16 years, are the new features enough to stay competitive in the surging midsize truck market? There are a lot of competitors offering exceptional options, some of which are very comfortable in backcountry terrain, like the Jeep Gladiator. Some of the competition, like the GM midsize trucks, has dialed in the ride quality and delivers a lot of tech and off-road features, too. Does the 2022 Nissan Frontier have enough to make itself a contender? Let’s take a look at what the 2022 Frontier has to offer.
Performance for Off-Roading
Nissan’s PRO-4X trim is dedicated to off-roading, not to be confused with the PRO-X trim, which only has a few extras to improve off-road performance. At the top of the price range for the 2022 lineup, the PRO-4X trim starts at $37,420 without any packages or extra features added. You only have one engine option for the entire lineup, so you don’t get to choose from a better-suited powertrain, but you do get standard four-wheel drive. With that 4×4 system, a transfer case allows for switching between hi and lo gears and also lets the driver revert to rear-wheel drive to save on fuel while you drive on the pavement.
Working with the 3.8-liter V6 powertrain, you have up to 310 horsepower to manage uphill climbs with decent confidence, though the 281 lb-ft of torque could be better for handling those slow crawls that are inevitable on rocky and uneven terrain. Hill descent control helps make descending inclines less stressful, and the underbody skid plates for the fuel tank, oil pan, and transfer case can at least provide peace of mind against damage from the trail. Nissan upgrades the shocks, adds a rear stabilizer bar, an electronic locking rear differential to improve off-road capability, and the ground clearance raises a portion of an inch to 9.8 inches total. In those times that off-roading also means getting stuck (an almost inevitable event), be aware that the PRO-4X only has tow hooks on the front end.
Angles for approach and departure improve slightly for the PRO-4X, coming in at 32.3 and 23 degrees, respectively, but oddly enough, the breakover angle is actually better in the entry-level S trim than with the off-road trim at 19.6 degrees. Nevertheless, the angles are fairly good for a truck, and Nissan spent time making sure the fenders don’t overhang too much in an effort to keep the frame tidy. One thing to consider, however, is the amount of space you have in the cabin. Front seats should serve fine for passengers, but even the larger Crew Cab, which is standard for the PRO-4X doesn’t have much rear legroom. You only get 33.2 inches back there—an improvement over the cramped 26.2 inches of the King Cab—and it won’t be comfortable for most adults if you off-road with friends.
Trailering and Hauling Duty
It’s not uncommon for buyers to purchase a midsize truck to handle occasional towing duty since towing capacity is often higher than most midsize SUVs and the lighter-duty trucks are often less expensive. Having a light trailer you take camping or to haul a boat for vacations is about the right fit for a midsize truck, and the 2022 Nissan Frontier has a fair towing capability to handle up to 6,720 pounds. All but the King Cab S trim come standard with tow/haul mode, and trailer sway control comes equipped for better stability. A Class IV tow hitch receiver is available for all but the base trim, but it doesn’t come standard on any model.
If you plan to tow with the uppermost PRO-4X trim, however, be prepared to scale back a little. The tow rating goes down to 6,270 pounds, as does the payload capacity, from the extra weight of the equipment for the 4×4 capability. Hauling light loads or hitting weekend garage sales will be fine with the 2022 Frontier, but this is not a truck built for serious labor. Payload capacity for the lesser trims is about 1,600 pounds, and for the PRO-4X trim, it drops to 1,230 pounds. That’s enough to load two or three refrigerators in the back, depending on how heavy they run.
One thing Nissan typically does right these days is technology. With its new Intelligent Mobility platform, Nissan makes tech a focal point for most of its vehicles. Tech-savvy folks will appreciate the inclusive features like standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three months of SiriusXM, and the large eight-inch infotainment screen. Nissan isn’t stingy with its charging ports, with four spots to plug in devices between the front and rear seats. Upper trims get upgrades like a nine-inch screen, Nissan’s door-to-door navigation, and five-year service for SiriusXM connected services that includes remote features and emergency response after a crash.
Most trucks don’t include any driver-assist safety features as standard, even when ranging into upper trims. Nissan chooses to give buyers a few features not typically found on trucks with Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Rear Automatic Braking. Of course, all the usual traction and stability control features are there as automated safety, and that’s not all. You also have a number of features like Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, and Blind Spot Warning standard.
Is the 2022 Nissan Frontier a Good Buy?
The new 2022 Frontier design has updated the interior significantly to bring this truck into modern times after being dated for too long, and that is a welcome change. Though the steering system has been “upgraded” to hydraulic for more precise steering, it’s not necessarily ground-breaking. After all, hydraulic systems are what most trucks of the past have left behind. It may be an upgrade from the previous, vague steering on the former generation, but it’s not modern. Buyers who plan to use their Frontier as a daily driver, especially for family errands, might find the back seat is only good for small kids or tweens who have yet to hit a growth spurt.
Fuel efficiency is mid-range and is competitive in the segment. The bottom line is that the upgraded new generation looks better, drives better, and has more tech, including safety features. It may still have more upgrading to compete with the likes of the Chevy Colorado or the Jeep Gladiator for off-roading, but the 2022 Frontier should make buyers happy enough with the improvements that bring it back to life. If you plan to tow small trailers or use it for moving light equipment, the Frontier will serve well. It’s certainly worth considering if you plan to buy a midsize truck this year.