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 toxguy on Monday, April 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good tow capacity. Rugged and reliable."
Cons: "Not exactly roomy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have no complaints at all. Good solid body on frame truck with a reliable proven engine. Gas mileage was dead on with EPA estimate. Really good value. Dealer is trying to trade me up to the Titan. Trade value is so good, I might just go for the big truck. V8 is only one MPG worse."
By TerBear on Monday, April 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,025overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "heavy duty, easy to drive and park"
Cons: "limited comfort for long trips and small bed."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is a very reliable and hard working vehicle, but it is not the most comfortable or economical truck to use. While use around town and for short trips is the usual venue for our truck we have had the need to use it for longer hauls. It was during these trips that the lack of leg room and seat adjustment became a critical issue. At 6 feet tall the driver must use the maximum rear travel for the best leg comfort this results in two problems. First the steering wheel does not telescope so the driver is stretched out like a diver in the pike position. Secondly the rear seat area has lost all leg room and can be very tight for all but a smaller sized person (children in boosters or child seat are not impacted). Additionally the drivers seat lacks thigh support. An 8-way power seat may eliminate this problem. The V-6 4.0 liter engine is very powerful and pulls well, but uses fuel faster than we like and can be a bit loud. Some of that may just be our driving type and style, but more fuel economy and sound absorbing materials would be nice. The bed tie-down system is great and the standard spray-on liner is handy, but the short bed limits the ability to haul some things. Overall, it is a very nicely equipped, safe, and utilitarian truck.."
By Tman on Monday, March 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Powerful, fun to drive, hauls anything"
Cons: "I brag on my truck all the time; a pleasure to own"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Perfect size; not too small, not too big. Can park easily & the gas mileage is not bad at all. Does just about anything a full sized truck can do. I have been renovating my house, hauling building materials with this truck. Love it!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By blackjack on Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,444overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice design, comfortable int.,powerful sm. truck"
Cons: "dents easily, poor fuel economy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"good truck ,very capable for a small truck .great in snow ,but set up an oil well in your yard. tough on fuel."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Fishing Jerry on Friday, March 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 667overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, towing, value"
Cons: "tailgate flips down cheap"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My Frontier was just purchased a month ago after Nissan President sale my experience was got the best deal ever and save plenty of bucks. I bought my small pickup has PRO-4X includes great gas mileage available navigation, Bluetooth, heated front seats, Nissan connect system, heated outside mirrors, rearview camera, Keyless. Bilstein shocks are great on helping Frontier 4WD best as going on rocky roads and passing through mud is the best on making me have a really enjoyment ride on the highways too. Love Frontier the seats are neat I have nice controls which are fantastic I am a taller person so at the height 6'5'' fit so comfortable in my Crew Cab love everything on my Frontier its was the best purchased ever made. I think the Frontier is probably cheaper than an Tacoma or F150 in a better value and seems to be much better than averaged in reliability along with other trucks as Toyota, GMC, Ford and Chevy but being a Nissan was very cheap to buy while needed something hauling my Bass Pro Boat that is most excellent thing what love on this truck doesn't reduces bad gas mileage or gives me lower performance as hauling a real large boat on a small crew cab truck it drives like a dream. I drove from North Carolina to Georgia on a small fishing trip the Frontier got best gas mileage and hauled a large boat so well on a 375 mile trip ever I wasn't tired either in enough firmed seat support gave me on a great smooth ride."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Brian M on Friday, March 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth ride, roomy backseat, good mileage."
Cons: "NO heater of value."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is a great truck and as reviewed elsewhere, but avoid if you are in a cold climate. I'm in Canada and for 7 months of the year the truck is virtually undriveable. The heater is absolutely terrible and the dealer says it is unfixable, that's how they are built. If you wear warm boots and don't need heat on your feet it is a good truck, otherwise look elsewhere. I'm trading mine in this weekend."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful