The midsize truck segment has undergone plenty of change in recent years. General Motors kicked off the renaissance with its redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks, and new versions of the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline soon followed. Left in the dust is the Nissan Frontier, which has loped along largely unchanged since this current generation's debut more than a decade ago.
That could change next year when an all-new Frontier is expected to arrive. But for now, the 2018 Nissan Frontier is outdated in just about every area. The interior, though certainly durable, has a low-buck look and feel to it and lets in plenty of noise. The Frontier's engines burn fuel with the abandon of a failed missile test, and technology and advanced safety features are few and far between.
On the upside, the Frontier offers a surprisingly comfortable ride, a bed with all manner of useful cleats and tie-downs, and legitimate off-road fun and capability when equipped in the Pro-4X trim. It's also relatively affordable compared to its newer rivals. As such, the 2018 Frontier could be a good pick for truck shoppers seeking simple utility and fun. For a more modern take on a midsize pickup, though, you'll want to look elsewhere.
The 2018 Nissan Frontier is a midsize truck offered in two body styles (the King extended cab or four-door crew cab) and with 5-foot and 6.1-foot bed lengths. Two engines are available, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder (152 horsepower, 171 pound-feet of torque) or a 4.0-liter six-cylinder (261-hp, 281 lb-ft). Both can pair to either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission (the four-cylinder is also available with a five-speed manual). There are five trim levels: S is the base model; the SV, with an upgraded interior; the Desert Runner, which pairs off-road-oriented features with two-wheel drive; the four-wheel-drive-only Pro-4X; and the top-tier SL, which is the best optioned overall.
The base S trim starts with two-wheel drive, an extended cab, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. Standard features include 15-inch steel wheels, rear privacy glass, cloth front bucket seats, air-conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 5-inch central display, steering wheel audio controls, Siri Eyes Free voice command, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB input and an auxiliary audio jack.
An optional Work Truck package adds a spray-in bedliner, bed rail caps, splash guards and rubber floor mats.
The SV builds on the above features with 16-inch alloy wheels, power accessories (windows, door locks), sliding rear window, and satellite radio. Options include a sunroof on the crew cab and a Value Truck package that adds foglights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a sliding bed extender, a spray-in bedliner, adjustable cargo tie-downs, a Class IV trailer hitch, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and two extra speakers on extended cabs.
The SV crew cab is also available with the Midnight Edition package, which adds blacked-out 18-inch wheels, side steps, body-colored bumpers, and side mirror housings.
The Desert Runner is a rear-wheel-drive V6 only. Available in either cab configuration, it builds on the base SV equipment list with special styling details, foglights, high-performance shock absorbers and off-road tires. The SV Value package equipment isn't available with this trim.
For serious off-roaders, there is the four-wheel-drive-only Pro-4X. This trim features knobby off-road tires, specially tuned shocks, a locking rear differential, skid plates, automatic headlights, a 5.8-inch NissanConnect touchscreen with navigation, satellite radio and voice controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a first-aid kit. It includes everything in the SV Value Truck package except the trailer hitch and bed extender, which are optional. Crew cabs also get a 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system.
The Pro-4X Premium package, only available on automatic-equipped crew cabs, adds a sunroof, a roof rack with crossbars, heated mirrors, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats and a rear-seat center armrest.
The top-level SL is only available as a crew cab with the automatic transmission. It loses the Pro-4X's off-road-oriented equipment but retains most of the items in the Pro-4X Premium package, including a sunroof for long-bed SLs. (The sunroof is a stand-alone option for short-bed SLs.) Additional standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels and side steps that ease access to the cab. The trailer hitch and bed extender remain optional on the Frontier SL.