By KBB.com Editors
The days of the compact pickup are fast closing. Witness the 2008 Nissan Frontier, a once-compact contender that has grown in size, power and weight. Along the way, it has also grown in capability and passenger comfort, placing it in the same general category as the midsize Dodge Dakota and Toyota Tacoma. The Frontier has much in common with its larger sibling, the Titan, offering a fully-boxed frame, Nissan's adjustable Utili-track Bed Channel System and a spray-in bed liner. With one of the most powerful V6 engines in its class, the Frontier offers superior towing with almost sports car-like acceleration. Although bargain shoppers may lament the absence of a standard-cab model, the four-cylinder King Cab is still an affordable truck, priced well below $18,000.
If you need a truck that hauls, tows and loves to get dirty, but don't want to deal with the mass of a full-size pickup, the 2008 Nissan Frontier will impress you with its capability, utility and refined ride.
Even though the Frontier's V6 is impressively smooth and powerful, if your workload -- or playload -- absolutely demands a big V8, then you'll have to look elsewhere. Also, the Frontier does not offer a standard-cab model.
A power driver's seat is added to LE trims, while a host of upgraded packages debut across the line. A Technology Package adds upgraded audio with an auxiliary audio input jack, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, XM Satellite Radio and a security and alarm system.
Driving Impressions That we expected more acceleration from the Frontier's new V6 says more about our imprudent expectations than it does about the engine. With 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque,...this 4.0-liter variant of the acclaimed engine found in the company's 350Z, Maxima and Infiniti G35 might be the smoothest, strongest V6 engine ever put in a pickup. In addition, the 2008 Nissan Frontier handles and rides better than some sedans. Big mirrors contribute to a fair amount of wind noise, but overall the cabin is quiet and comfortable, especially for a pickup with such noteworthy capabilities. Our long test drive concluded with some serious rock-crawling on a Texas ranch, which, thanks in large part to its stiff frame and powerful engine, the Frontier negotiated effortlessly.
Utili-track Bed Channel System
Movable and removable cleats make it easy to transport even cumbersome cargo loads safely.
The Frontier's stiff frame provides the foundation for the pickup's sedan-like ride and handling and its sturdy off-road capability.
The Frontier's purposeful interior is defined by its flexibility. King Cab models feature smaller rear-hinged rear doors that provide access to flip-up rear seats, while Crew Cab models feature traditional rear doors and a more conventional back seat. Both models offer removable storage boxes beneath the rear seats, plus an available fold-flat front passenger seat for increased interior cargo flexibility. The Frontier's cabin features dual stacked glove boxes, multiple 12-volt power points and one-liter cup holders integrated into the front doors. Leather seating is among the Frontier's more indulgent options.Exterior
With its "angled strut" grille and sharp, pronounced fender flares, the Frontier is unmistakable as a direct descendent of the company's daunting full-size Titan pickup, although more athletic looking than its larger sibling. The Frontier offers a number of pickup-truck firsts, such as the Utili-track tie-down system that features moveable cargo hooks located in a five-rail in-bed system.
In base XE trim, the Frontier is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, a five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and 15-inch steel wheels.
Features not included at base sticker price include the 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine, five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive, Utili-track Bed Channel System, factory-applied spray-on bedliner, single-CD sound system, six-disc in-dash sound system with MP3 playback, air conditioning, power door locks/windows/mirrors, keyless entry, front side-impact airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control stability control system and front and rear side-curtain airbags. The NISMO off-road model includes skid plates, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist features, Utili-track system, an on-demand electronic locking rear differential and Bilstein performance shocks.
The economical four-cylinder engine is offered only on the two-wheel-drive XE King Cab, which might become an issue if gasoline prices surge past four dollars per gallon. The V6 is plenty powerful and does offer the choice between a manual and automatic transmission, but all that power and performance comes at the expense of fuel economy.
2.5-liter in-line 4
152 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
171 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 (2WD, manual), 17/22 (2WD, automatic)
261 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
281 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/20 (2WD, manual), 15/20 (2WD, automatic), 15/19 (4WD, manual), 14/19 (4WD, automatic)
By REV on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent price and reliability. Very fun to drive"
Cons: "Long wheel base a lot to handle on the trails"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This truck replaced my 2006 Frontier Nismo King Cab, so that I could hall the family around more comfortably. It performs amazingly on and off the road. I love this truck. The biggest gripe that I have is that it's a boat off road with the 6' bed. The benefits of the larger bed for household use outweigh the inconvenience of maneuverability on the trails."
By jklccm on Monday, March 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Two owners & I am maticulous"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Front bumper has a ding, rear bumper twisted slighted, 2 dings on the roof, set under pine trees for 2+ yrs. not driven. Immaculate interior. Bought from a widow. New Michelin tires, all fluids changed, new battery, new belts, detailed, chrome added to door handles, side moulding, rear tailgate hard plastic and handle, door mirrors. All maintenance done per recommendations."
By Smc1018 on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nismo- Pretty quick and fun to drive"
Cons: "Reliability, quality of materials, value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Granted, I bought this car used with 100K miles on it; however, it has had so many little things go wrong on it that just shouldn't. This truck was ~30K new, and its got a single disc cd player (that doesnt work anymore), cloth seats, no convenience options other than pl, pw. I know its a truck, but still, I think it could have been a little nicer considering. But, I've had problems with the fuel level sensor, charcoal canistor, shocks, air keeps getting into the braking system, rear axel seals bad, leaf springs snapped, transmission shifts really hard, tire pressure sensors going bad, blower motor fan died, ac system leaks, etc... Just don't think cars should have this many problems."
By Chris512 on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 128,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, fun to drive,"
Cons: "Not 4 wheel drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Took over this from my brother.. Since day one it has been good to me! I've done a lot as far as upgrades (remote start/alarm, aftermarket radio w/ built in navigation, tint, premium all terrain tires, step rail). Love this truck, although at times you would feel small next to a bigger trucks like tundras or sierras. Over all thus truck is a beast! Highly recommended truck."
By Carprof on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good for hauling things out"
Cons: "Bumpy and hard to remove top."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I have ridden in this truck with my father and grandparents to carry major things such as tools tree limbs mulch and soil. It feels very high off the ground when you sit in the front seats but it is still good. There is more room in the bed for carrying things especially if you bring the tailgate down and use the cage at the end. The only downsides are that the ride can get rough and bumpy at times and taking the top off the bed is a hassle. However the tires on pickups are supposed to be strong but during my experience with this vehicle one tire got a screw puncture more easily than expected."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By Old Coastie on Monday, January 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 104,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks and dependability"
Cons: "Rides like a truck"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I saw this truck in the showroom and had to have it. It comes with the luggage rack (that we use to carry our kayak) and running boards. Real classy style. We have driven to both coasts and Canada averaging 20 - 23 MPG on the highway with speed limits of 55 to 85. Seats are comfortable but we have to remember it is a truck so it does not ride like a nice sedan. Best thing about my Frontier is its looks and dependability. Original tires lasted 82,000 miles and I have just changed the oil and done routine maintenance"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful