By KBB.com Editors
The days of the compact pickup are fast closing. Witness the 2010 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 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 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 2010 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.
All 2010 Nissan Frontier models now feature front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags, while V6 models pick up VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) stability control as part of their standard equipment roster. In addition, SE and LE 4WD models are outfitted with standard Hill Decent Control and Hill Start Assist.
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 370Z, Maxima and Infiniti G37 might be the smoothest, strongest V6 engine ever put in a pickup. In addition, the 2010 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.
Fitted atop the dash in its own protective pop-up enclosure, the Garmin Nuvi 750 navigation system cost less than $300 and is completely updatable via the Internet. Compared with much pricier built-in DVD-based systems, the Garmin option is clearly the winning choice.
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 2010 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 2010 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), front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags, 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, Bluetooth and a dealer-installed portable pop-up Garmin navigation unit, The PRO-4X off-road model includes the Utili-track system, an on-demand electronic locking rear differential, skid plates 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 start to soar again. 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 cramax3 on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,600overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "roomy rear bench seat, good looks"
Cons: "tires are soft, wide steering radius"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Overall this is a nice truck. I gave the interior design a 9 only because the dash feels to far away from the drivers seat and I find myself reaching to use the control knobs. I rated the driving dynamics at 9, the turning radius seem a bit wide and I find the truck hard to keep steady on the road, it seems to wander on the road. I believe it to be soft sidewalls on the BF Goodrich Long trails that are factory installed. If I could change anything on the truck it would definitely be the tires."
By katoola (NC) on Monday, April 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 209,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "power train - ride - stereo - attractive vehicle"
Cons: "turn radius - Gas mileage -"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Over 200,000 miles. Never had to ever have an alignment in over 200,000 miles Repairs both rear axles leaked - needed replaced one front bearing - needed replaced Gas gauge sensor - failed - replaced (known defect by Nissan)"
By Jane (FL) on Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This truck has been nothing but problems from the first week. Had the towing pack, the dealership installed it wrong and the lights did not work. The gas gauge stopped working by the 6th month. The paint is peeling (garage kept), timing chain went out, fuel pump died, all this within the first several years. Now the truck won't good over 25 mph or 2000 rpms. Dealership wants $2500 to fix that. The relay also went out. I will never ever buy another Nissan! Toyota here I come! A few other things, it's just so much wrong can recall all of it."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Newt (AL) on Thursday, April 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "tows great, good pickup power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had this truck for a little over a year now and in my opinion, it would be hard to beat with another mid size and even some full size trucks. I have towed a travel trailer (roughly 5000 lbs using a weight distribution hitch) many miles and have had no issues at all. It has never overheated when I hit the hard hills and kicks in great for that extra pickup. I have trailer brakes and keep my speed around 60 to 65 mph. The truck itself will want to go over that which speaks well of the horsepower. I’m not in that big of a hurry and the time difference is minimal. The only complaint I have, which is also minimal, is the middle department between the front seats could have extended out further to make a better arm rest. Another than that and the cab room limitations, (all midsize trucks) this is a great truck and I would highly recommend it to others."
By Rob (SC) on Saturday, March 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This truck has been great. Never had any problems from it. Handles like a sports car and is solid as a truck. Can fit two car seats in the back seat along with a skinny 15 yr old (6')."
By Jane (FL) on Monday, March 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This being the 5th new Nissan truck that we have bought over the years, this year/model has been very disappointing. The tow Package that came with it the lights kept going out. The fuel pump went out. The transmission went out. The fuel gauge never worked, they claim to have fixed it on several occasions while being serviced, but it still doesn't work. The drivers seat belt never recoils, they also claimed to have fixed that. And on the second year the paint is peeling off."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful