Can Nissan’s All-New Frontier Topple the Tacoma as the Go-to Overlanding Pickup?

After what felt like an eternity, Nissan has finally updated its venerable Frontier. Although it hasn’t been an actual eternity, it has been 16 years since the Frontier was fully redesigned. And in that intervening decade and a half, Nissan’s engineers have had time to craft the perfect mid-size truck. Have they done it?

For the 2022 model year, the mid-size truck is virtually all new, with new styling, a new engine, and a host of segment-leading and exclusive features. One sort-of-new feature is Nissan’s 3.8-liter V6 engine, which Nissan wedged under the hood of the 2020 Frontier for a one-year-only mishmash of new and old.

This new V6 produces a prodigious 310 horsepower (a segment-leading figure) and 281 foot-pounds of torque. That lump of gasoline-derived power is routed by way of an electronically controlled part-time transfer case (2WD, 4HI, and 4LOW) and out to all four wheels (on 4×4 models) through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The hydraulically controlled steering is also a carryover from the old truck. Nissan says this is to ensure a better on-center feel. But the steering ratio has been upped by 16% for quicker turns.

Nissan says this 2022 Frontier features four-wheel limited slip, which sounds great. But it didn’t say how that system works — or when.

Although there are several trim levels and cab and bed combinations, I’ll focus on the PRO-4X quad cab, which gets the full suite of Nissan’s off-road technology.

The PRO-4X receives — keep up with me now — Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, rear electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers, and underbody skid plates.

If buyers option their Frontier with Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode, a birds’ eye view is projected on the in-dash nine-inch touchscreen that stitches together views from four cameras mounted on the outside of the vehicle.

READ MORE: IS OVERLANDING DANGEROUS?

That means you can watch what’s happening at every corner of your rig while on treacherous trails. Keeping driver and passengers comfortable on long overland trips are Nissan’s signature zero-gravity seats, which are some of the most comfortable seats in the industry.

Speaking of that interior, Nissan designers listened to customers. And they said they wanted more interior storage. The 2022 Frontier includes six liters of center console storage, 6.5 liters of front door pocket storage, and 5.5 liters of available storage space in the rear door pockets. They backed up all that storage room with power outlets, too. The PRO-4X’s interior includes two USB ports, two 12-volt outlets, and two 110-volt outlets.

The bed of the truck can be optioned for extra storage solutions as well. In addition to a spray-on bed liner (a Nissan-pioneered feature), the bed can be fitted with three special “C” shaped cross section rails for securing loads in addition to the four fixed tie down hooks. All told, the Nissan Frontier can tow 6,720 pounds.

From where I sit, the 2022 Nissan Frontier just became a bit of a king killer. Yes, I am referring to the Tacoma. Nissan has already demonstrated that it’ll support its off-road models with NISMO factory off-road equipment — even on discontinued models. Stands to reason this new Frontier will get the same treatment.

This rig is handsome, capable, and powerful. It’s right-sized for a lot of overlanders and will hopefully be priced competitively.

We won’t know that, though, until it goes on sale, which will happen summer 2021.


Photos: Nissan

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