By KBB.com Editors
The days of the compact pickup are fast closing. Witness the 2009 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 mid-size 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 excellent acceleration. Although bargain shoppers may lament the absence of a standard-cab model, the four-cylinder King Cab is still an affordable truck, priced under $20,000.
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 2009 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.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier receives a revised front end and new grille, as well as new 16- and 18-inch wheels. Also new for 2009 is a PRO-4X model on both the King and LE Crew Cab models. The PRO-4X package adds a long list of goodies including Bilstein shocks, additional skid plates, electronic rear differential locker and off-road tires.
Driving Impressions That we expected more acceleration from the Frontier's 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 G37 might be the smoothest, strongest V6 engine ever put in a pickup. In addition, the 2009 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 2009 Nissan 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. Nissan also offers a spray-in bed liner as well as a number of off-road upgrades, skid plates and wheel options.
In base XE trim, the 2009 Nissan 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. Five and six-foot bed lengths are available on the Crew Cab, while the King Cab offers only a six-foot bed.
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, Dealer installed portable navigation unit, Vehicle Dynamic Control stability control system and front and rear side-curtain airbags. The PRO-4X 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. LE trims can be outfitted with power driver's and passengers seats, leather seating surfaces and a power glass moonroof.
The economical four-cylinder engine is offered only on the two-wheel-drive XE King Cab, which might become an issue if gasoline prices continue to remain volatile. 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)
By hillbilly nation on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "solid, great power"
Cons: "1996 4x4 was a bit gutless, but 2009 is great."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Owned a new 1996 Nissan 4x4 truck and currently have a new 2009 Frontier Crew Cab. 150,000 combines miles with no tow trucks."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Elsie on Monday, December 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good gas mileage"
Cons: "poor turning radius and wind noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"only negatives on this truck are poor turn radius and lots of wind noise,especially if windy outside. Handles great and very good gas mileage."
17 people out of 41 found this review helpful
By EngineChauffer on Saturday, December 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Value"
Cons: "Needs more safety features"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I needed a mid size pick up truck with a 6 foot bed. The Frontier gives you a large bed on a mid size frame. Fuel economy is not as good as it should be. I get 10 mpg city, 18 highway. The turning ratio on the long bed could be better. I was told most Nissan's turning ratio are not the best. It would be nice if Nissan included the Blind spot monitoring option"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Ali on Monday, December 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Cons: "NO heat in park!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I've had this truck for 6 months and 10,000 miles. I do not love it. It is pretty zippy on dry pavement, but pretty gutless if there is even a suggestion of snow/ice, unless it is in 4x4. I recently had to retire my Toyota Tacoma, and I have regretted not getting another Toyota for the last 6 months. I live in Alaska, it gets cold here. This truck has ZERO heat in park! I can't tell you how aggravating it is to put my children in a truck that is 30 below even after running for 15 minutes! I took the truck to the dealer and they said the antifreeze has to be mixed to exactly 42-48 below. Well, guess what? It didn't fix the problem! And now I am wondering how my truck will fare when it gets to 55 below this winter. Once you get on the road it is OK, but you still have to get in the freezing truck and drive for about 3-5 minutes before it starts to warm up. The windshield defrost is less than 1/3 of the width of the windshield and takes a while to completely defrost. I plan on getting rid of my Nissan as soon as I possibly can."
10 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Troy on Thursday, December 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good work truck"
Cons: "Poor mpg and comfort"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Over the vehicle is good no real complaints that I did not already know about. However, for a midsize truck I would expect the fuel mileage to much better, only averaging 19 mpg. Abit uncomfortable for passengers - front and rear."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By RacrFanNY on Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,275overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Powerful V-6, Towing, smooth 4wd"
Cons: "Tranny shift points. Low sitting back seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I’ve always owned full size Chevy or Dodge p/ups. Now that kids are moved on it was time to downsize. I needed to still have the pulling power to haul a trailer and car, as well as 4wd (not AWD) capabilities. Looked at the Honda (no 4wd) and Toyota (less towing, HP and MPG) and settled for the Nissan. I'm very happy with my choice. Recently towed a Boxter hour and half and couldn't have been happier. The truck towed without hesitation. The power was more than adequate and the ride was great. I hear complaints of fuel mileage but coming from a full size I'm used to it. Currently averaging 17 around town but reached 24 on my last highway trip to Charlotte. My biggest complaint is the transmission is tuned (for mpg) to shift too quickly at around 40 mph. The tranny in that speed and rpm range shifts up and down constantly. I’ve kind of learned how to control throttle and RPM's to limit this but can be annoying when driving over hills in that speed range. This was not a problem while towing as I locked out the overdrive. If my wife drove manual I would have opted for the 6 speed. Ride is stiff but yet compliant. 4wd works great. Very smooth in its engagement and driving feel. Overall I'm really happy with my 2014 Frontier."
25 people out of 47 found this review helpful