By KBB.com Editors
Where full-size pickup trucks tend to be employed as workhorses, their mid-sized counterparts usually enjoy a more recreational life. Take the 2011 Nissan Frontier, for example, which offers a number of configurations ideal for camping, towing, or hauling bikes and outdoor gear; it can even be outfitted to venture far off the beaten path. With its fully boxed frame, available Utili-track Bed Channel System and a spray-in bed liner, the Frontier is primarily designed with a good time in mind. But, the Frontier can still do the work expected of a pickup when asked. The Frontier's powerful V6 engine is one of the strongest in the segment, providing superior power for towing and passing. About the only drawback to the Frontier line is the absence of a regular cab model. However, with the entry-level King Cab starting around $18,000, we don't think many buyers will mind moving up to a bigger cab.}
If you're looking for a reasonably priced midsize pickup that is as comfortable off-road as it is on a long stretch of highway, check out the 2011 Nissan Frontier. With its powerful V6 and fully boxed frame, the Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
If you require the power of a V8 engine or the comfy confines of a standard regular cab, the 2011 Nissan Frontier offers neither.
Changes to the 2011 Nissan Frontier include new designations and some revised option packages. The Frontier XE, SE and LE are replaced by the Frontier S, SV and SL, while the S and PRO 4X are now offered in Crew Cab form. A Vehicle Immobilizer and bed rail caps are now standard on Frontier SV, PRO-4X and SL models.
Driving Impressions Knowing that the V6 engine beneath the 2011 Nissan Frontier's hood is a variant of the acclaimed engine found in the 370Z had us hoping for blistering performance: we didn't...get it. But, with 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, the Frontier's 4.0-liter dynamo still performed admirably. More importantly is how smooth and quiet the engine operates, as well as its fairly respectable fuel economy in highway driving. Other than the wind noise generated by the oversized side mirrors, the Frontier's cabin is quiet and comfortable, especially for a pickup with such noteworthy capabilities. In day-to-day driving, the Frontier handles and rides as well as any sedan, although the vehicle becomes decidedly more truck-like when equipped with the PRO-4X's larger BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires. Part of our test drive included some serious rock-crawling, 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 2011 Nissan Frontier's cabin is both flexible and accommodating, with features such as 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, as is a power glass moonroof. Crew Cab models feature traditional rear doors and a conventional back seat, while the standard King Cab model is fitted with smaller rear-hinged rear doors that provide access to flip-up rear seats. Both models offer removable storage boxes beneath the rear seats, plus an available fold-flat front passenger seat for increased interior cargo flexibility.Exterior
Although the 2011 Nissan Frontier's bulging fender flares and "angled strut" grille bear more than a passing resemblance to the full-size Nissan Titan, the Frontier's smaller dimensions translate into a much sportier appearance. Available in King or Crew Cab, and with a short or long bed, there is a Frontier to fit almost every need. Features such as a factory spray-in bed liner help keep scuffs and dents to minimum, while available skid plates protect the Frontier's undercarriage. Cargo of all shapes and sizes can be securely anchored, thanks to the Frontier's available Utili-track tie-down system that offers a five-rail in-bed system with movable cargo hooks.
In base S trim, the 2011 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 bed liner, 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. The PRO-4X Luxury Package adds power driver and passengers seats, heated leather front seating surfaces, a roof rack with crossbars and a power glass moonroof.
The economical four-cylinder engine is offered only on the two-wheel-drive S and SV 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), 15/20 (4WD, manual), 14/19 (4WD, automatic)
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."
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."
9 people out of 19 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 46 found this review helpful