A white 2019 Ford Ranger, which wins when comapring the 2019 Ford Ranger vs 2019 Nissan Frontier, is shown in the mud.

Road Warriors: Ford Ranger vs Nissan Frontier


Once more the field of battle stands ready, a hush descends as the world holds its breath and two gladiators of vehicular carnage step forward to clash and fray. Today we’re talking pickups – mid-size pickups to be precise, so don’t expect any heavy-duty destruction in this battle. And yet, mid-size trucks are becoming increasingly powerful and demonstrating they can do a lot more work than we expected of them before. Let battle be joined: it’s the 2019 Ford Ranger vs 2019 Nissan Frontier melee!

To make sure this is a clean fight, let’s set a few ground rules. First and foremost, the areas of combat will include the engines they offer – particularly their horsepower and torque. Then, of course, these warriors will clash with demonstrations of towing and payload capacity to see what kind of muscle they have packed into their armored frames. We’ll look at safety features and interior options as well, to see what kinds of tricks they have up their sleeves and determine which one comes out on top.

To battle!

The Engines Clash – Horsepower and Torque

Sizing each other up, our warriors circle and prepare for the opening assault – let their power be weighed and judged as they clash. Which is to say, let’s take a look at their engines.

The 2019 Ford Ranger has a single engine available, so let’s hope it’s a good one. The standard engine is a 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo-Charged engine that provides up to 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which is exceptional for a mid-size truck, especially for a non-diesel engine. And yet, all that power comes with a very reasonable estimated fuel economy of 21 mpg/26 mpg in the city and highway – not to mention a 10-speed automatic transmission.

On the other hand, the 2019 Nissan Frontier has two engines available. The first is a very unimpressive 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that offers up to 152 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. Fortunately, there’s a superior engine available: a 4.0L V6 that provides up to 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. That’s definitely better, but it still falls short of the power the Ranger can boast about, and the best fuel economy the more powerful Frontier engine offers is 16 mpg/23 mpg. While the Frontier has manual and automatic transmissions available, they are either 5-speed or 6-speed.

The opening fray goes to the 2019 Ford Ranger: more power, better gas mileage, and a superior transmission.

A white 2019 Ford Ranger is pulling a stump with a tow strap attached to the front tow hook.

Battle of Brawn – Towing and Payload

As the Nissan Frontier staggers, battered by that opening assault, let’s see how that power translates into functionality. Perhaps the Nissan will rally…

The 2019 Ford Ranger has a maximum towing capacity of up to 7,500 lbs when properly configured. It can also have a maximum payload of up to 1,860 lbs with the right setup. By comparison, the 2019 Nissan Frontier has a maximum towing capacity of up to 6,720 lbs and a maximum payload of up to 1,460 lbs. So the Ranger can offer nearly 800 lbs of additional towing and up to 400 lbs more payload capacity.

So far, the Frontier has been sorely battered as the 2019 Ford Ranger comes out swinging. A more powerful engine translates into greater muscle for both towing and payload. This could be a short battle if the Nissan Frontier doesn’t have something to answer with, and soon.

Maneuvers and Melee – Interior and Tech Options

As the battle was met, the Ford Ranger charged forward to deliver two swift and powerful blows, striking true with its monstrous engine and tremendous performance. Now, with the taste of oil in its mouth, the Nissan Frontier looks to answer, sending forward its champion to meet the greatest warrior the Ranger has to offer. In other words: let’s look at the interior options on these two mid-size pickups, particularly those found in their highest trim levels.

The highest trim of the 2019 Nissan Frontier is the SL, which has some pretty decent interior options and features. The SL has a 6-inch touchscreen Infotainment display, with Bluetooth support, and a Rockford Fosgate audio system. It has dual-zone automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Frontier SL also features an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, 4-way power adjustable front passenger seat, and leather-appointed heated front seats. That’s some pretty impressive tricks from this weary warrior – let’s see how the Ranger will answer…

The 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat, its highest trim level, features an 8-inch LCD touchscreen Infotainment display, with Bluetooth support and compatibility with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with an available Bang & Olufsen sound system. It has dual-zone automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Ranger Lariat also has 8-way power adjustable heated driver and front-passenger seats, which are leather trimmed.

Looking at them side by side, it seems pretty close in this round. The Nissan Frontier SL has a better sound system standard, while it is an option with the Ford Ranger Lariat, but the Lariat has a larger Infotainment screen and better front-passenger seat. They both have very comparable features overall, but the Lariat also has a pair of 4-inch displays in the driver instrument cluster and starts at a slightly lower price than the SL. So perhaps the Ranger wins this round too.

The tan interior of the 2019 Ford Ranger is shown.

Phalanxes Tested – Safety Features

I’ll just say it: so far, it’s not looking good for the 2019 Nissan Frontier. The 2019 Ford Ranger has scored a clear victory in two of the first three rounds of battle and took a slight advantage in the third. While safety is important, and a strong defense can certainly win a conflict, it will take a stroke of tactical genius for the Frontier to come out on top…

In terms of safety, let’s once again focus on the highest trim levels to keep things simple. The 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat has an extensive safety package including pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, a blind spot information system, and cross-traffic alert. It also includes a lane-keeping system with lane-keeping alert, lane-keep assist, and driver alert. The blind spot system even includes functionality while towing to extend the field of coverage to include the trailer behind it.

By comparison, the 2019 Nissan Frontier SL includes an airbag system and vehicle dynamic control. It has an active braking system and a rearview camera with a rear sonar system. That’s about it, however, which honestly falls well short of what the Ford Ranger has to offer in terms of safety. I looked over the specs and info on the Frontier several times because I honestly couldn’t believe the safety features were that limited, but here we are.

So as the Frontier reels from numerous strikes and blows, it’s no surprise that it lacks any real defense to speak of. The safety features are what you would expect from a vehicle from 10 years ago, not a modern, high-end mid-size pickup. In the end, the Frontier’s shield slips from its fingers, buried in the mud alongside its broken frame.

Who Stands Victorious?

This is one of the clearest victories I have ever seen when comparing vehicles in the carnage of combat. The 2019 Ford Ranger comes out with the one-two combination of a more powerful engine and greater towing and payload capacities. It follows it up with a tactical strike thanks to more impressive interior features and tech options, and the 2019 Nissan Frontier fails to put up any kind of defense in the assault. There is no real debate here: the 2019 Ford Ranger is the superior warrior and stands victorious upon the ruin of its opponent.