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 Frontiersman on Tuesday, November 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice styling, good initial quality"
Cons: "Poor reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I bought this vehicle used with under 25K miles and expected to have something approaching the reliability I've experienced with my Hondas. However, I had problems with numerous mechanical parts. The brakes are undersized for this vehicle, so replacing pads is a frequent maintenance issue, and I have had to replace rotors as well. The vehicle had two recalls---one for the fuel gauge sending unit, and one for the transmission and radiator. If I hadn't bought the extended warranty, that latter one would have cost me over $3,000 because I didn't notice the transmission problem until I was over 90k miles. The warranty also covered the failures of two wheel bearings, both lower control arms, the secondary timing chain, the horn switch, a tire pressure sensor (which failed again shortly afterward), and a leak in the emission control evap system."
8 people out of 12 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."
9 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By polarbear1634 on Sunday, September 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the way this truck handles ! With new tires it drive so good and responsive ! One of the best trucks I have ever owned !!!"
4 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Jimmydafin on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Started off as nice truck"
Cons: "Went downhill fast"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"After 80k the transmission went, coolant leaks into tran fluid and kills tran on spot. Gas gauge sensor in tank went bad needs to be replaced, heaer/AC control went bad need to replace. All three of these issues Nissan is aware of and would do nothing for me. After many complaints from others they decided to extend covarage to 80k miles on issues they know happen on '"high mileage trucks" typically over 80k. So no help. This truck has been nothing but a money pit since it hit 80k miles. Google search frontier transmission problems, gas gauge and heat control. It's all there to read. I have owned other Nissan with no issues, not again. Last thing now two of the cat converters are shot and it won't pass NYState inspection so I can't register it. GOOD LUCK IF YOU BUY THIS TRUCK"
10 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Got Truck on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking truck."
Cons: "Gas mileage, brakes and turning radius are awful."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"My 2013 Nissan Frontier 4x4 was making a loud noise in the blower motor so I took it in to be checked. Apparently leaves and debris collected in the intake and was lodged in the fan motor. Was told Nissan does NOT put a cabin filter in the Frontier during build. It is a 4x4 that is meant to be taken off road, why wouldn't you build it with a cabin filter. For the price these trucks command, not good Nissan. Please fix the spongy brake problem, it is going to get someone hurt trying to stop with a load. Finally, the cubby hole in the dash under the radio is partially blocked by the shifter. Difficult to access at times."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By BTBoater on Thursday, September 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid, Roomy, 3/4 ton payload, Big Boat Hauler"
Cons: "No Refrigerator"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has got to be the perfect truck, and although all us truck owners can gripe about fuel economy, it comes with the territory and you do not buy a truck for fuel efficiency, so that subject is irrelevant to truck buyers, yeah, really. My Frontier Crew Cab SV is mostly driven by my wife, and this is her dream car! We pull a 4,500lb boat like nothing (and could tow 2,000lbs more), and the rear seats keep the kid from complaining on many of our 1/2 day rides to camping and fishing spots. It hauls almost TON of payload in the bed, and is a very sure footed traveller on our very snowy roads. Only complaint is Nissan does not include a 3.5mm jack in this specific model, but we forgive them, because this truck is so well made. We know plenty of Frontier owners, and nobody has ever had a problem. With regular oil changes at 4,000 miles and tire rotations, we plan on owning this truck another 25 years. Our truck is Black, and looks great when it's dirty or clean. We feel very confidant driving it. Even of we found a better deal on a 1/2 ton regular pickup, we'd pass because this is the perfect sized truck, and a Nissan, built to last a lifetime."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful