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2022 Nissan Frontier Modernizes the Mid-Size Pickup

The new Frontier will arrive summer 2021; standard V6 is most powerful in the class.

After 17 years, the current Nissan Frontier is finally retiring. The Japanese brand debuted the 2022 Frontier as part of digital event Thursday afternoon, which also featured the 2022 Pathfinder. The mid-size truck is the latest prong in Nissan’s transformation, and it brings some much-needed improvements to model, plus the most powerful standard engine in the class.

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Truth be told, the engine is the one part of the recipe we already knew. Nissan dropped the new 3.8-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission into the 2020 Frontier, ahead of the new-gen rig. It produces 310 horsepower—pipping the optional V6 in the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon by two ponies—with 281 lb-ft of twist. The nine-speed auto nearly doubles the gear range of the old five-speed unit. This ensures the new drivetrain still scores better fuel economy numbers than the old one, despite the additional power. There are no other engine choices, at least for now. In a pre-reveal chat with media, the company wouldn’t confirm the death of the diesel Frontier project, which first showed up back in 2014.

You won’t mistake the new Frontier for the old one, either. Nissan has given the rig a massive makeover, with a blockier design tying it closer to the Titan and Armada. The Japanese brand says the classic Hardbody influenced the design, and it’s most evident up front, with broad, flat surfaces lending the Frontier a sense of sturdiness. The interlocking look of the front headlights, grille, and bumper looks great, especially with the lower skid plate and red tow hooks of the PRO-4X model.

Around back, the taillights take on a similarly architectural look as the front units. The tailgate features an embossed “Frontier” stamping, and all trims feature a dampened tailgate assist. The new truck will come in a choice of nine colors, including Baja Storm and Boulder Grey Pearl.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier comes in both King and Crew Cab flavors. Depending on trim, the bed is either 5.0- or 6.0-feet. Crew Cabs are only available with 4WD, while rear-drive is standard on King Cabs. Canadian buyers will have a simplified selection: 4WD is standard on all trims north of the border, except the special-order King Cab S, intended for fleets. Towing capacity maxes out at up to 6,720 lb (3,048 kg) in the US; Canada’s standard 4WD puts its max slightly lower, at 6,490 lb (2,944 kg). Trailer Sway Control is standard either side of the border.

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Nissan says Frontier buyers rate the current truck’s Goldilocks size highly, which is why the new one is only marginally larger. It rides on the same 125.9-inch (3,198 mm) wheelbase, as well. Engineers have tightened up the (hydraulic!) steering, increasing the turning ratio by 16 percent. New hydraulic cab mounts drop road vibration by a massive 80 percent, and other changes within the suspension contribute to a smoother ride overall. Models with 4WD include Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. The PRO-4X model goes one step further, adding Bilstein shocks, an electronic locking diff, and more robust underbody protection.

The Frontier’s bed uses Nissan’s Utili-track Channel System, and includes four fixed tie-down hooks.

The substantial makeover doesn’t stop outside. The interlocking motif from the exterior transfers to the layered dashboard design inside the Frontier, too. A simplified layout makes every control easy to find, including the 2WD/4HI/4LO selector. Both types of USB ports are standard up front, with another set for the rear available. Nissan has carved out more storage space in the door pockets as well as the center console, and a small shelf above the instrument panel. A 7.0-inch infotainment screen is standard, with a larger 9.0-inch item optional—the largest in the class. A wireless charger and Wifi hotspot are standard on the PRO-4X. Nissan’s excellent Zero Gravity seats are also standard across the line.

Two 12V outlets are included on all 2022 Frontiers. Optional on the SV and standard on PRO-4X are two 100V outlets, with 400-watt capacity. The PRO-4X also features an upgraded, nine-speaker Fender audio system on its options list.

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Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assists is standard on most trims—and on all of them in Canada. It includes automated emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, auto high beams, tire pressure monitoring, intelligent cruise control, and the only rear automatic braking in the class. Nissan’s 360-degree camera is also available, with two choice upgrades: moving object detection and Off-Road Mode. Think of the latter as your own digital spotter for trail runs. It activates in 4LO.

For 2022, Nissan is expanding the PRO lineup with a rear-drive PRO-X model in the US, and the shorter King Cab PRO-4X in Canada.

Further details on the 2022 Nissan Frontier, including detailed trim breakdowns and pricing, will arrive before it shows up in dealerships this summer. We expect it to start under $30,000, with around $10,000 more on the sticker for a loaded PRO-4X.

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