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 REV on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent price and reliability. Very fun to drive"
Cons: "Long wheel base a lot to handle on the trails"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This truck replaced my 2006 Frontier Nismo King Cab, so that I could hall the family around more comfortably. It performs amazingly on and off the road. I love this truck. The biggest gripe that I have is that it's a boat off road with the 6' bed. The benefits of the larger bed for household use outweigh the inconvenience of maneuverability on the trails."
By jklccm on Monday, March 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,700overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Two owners & I am maticulous"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Front bumper has a ding, rear bumper twisted slighted, 2 dings on the roof, set under pine trees for 2+ yrs. not driven. Immaculate interior. Bought from a widow. New Michelin tires, all fluids changed, new battery, new belts, detailed, chrome added to door handles, side moulding, rear tailgate hard plastic and handle, door mirrors. All maintenance done per recommendations."
By Smc1018 on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nismo- Pretty quick and fun to drive"
Cons: "Reliability, quality of materials, value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Granted, I bought this car used with 100K miles on it; however, it has had so many little things go wrong on it that just shouldn't. This truck was ~30K new, and its got a single disc cd player (that doesnt work anymore), cloth seats, no convenience options other than pl, pw. I know its a truck, but still, I think it could have been a little nicer considering. But, I've had problems with the fuel level sensor, charcoal canistor, shocks, air keeps getting into the braking system, rear axel seals bad, leaf springs snapped, transmission shifts really hard, tire pressure sensors going bad, blower motor fan died, ac system leaks, etc... Just don't think cars should have this many problems."
By Chris512 on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 128,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, fun to drive,"
Cons: "Not 4 wheel drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Took over this from my brother.. Since day one it has been good to me! I've done a lot as far as upgrades (remote start/alarm, aftermarket radio w/ built in navigation, tint, premium all terrain tires, step rail). Love this truck, although at times you would feel small next to a bigger trucks like tundras or sierras. Over all thus truck is a beast! Highly recommended truck."
By Carprof on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good for hauling things out"
Cons: "Bumpy and hard to remove top."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I have ridden in this truck with my father and grandparents to carry major things such as tools tree limbs mulch and soil. It feels very high off the ground when you sit in the front seats but it is still good. There is more room in the bed for carrying things especially if you bring the tailgate down and use the cage at the end. The only downsides are that the ride can get rough and bumpy at times and taking the top off the bed is a hassle. However the tires on pickups are supposed to be strong but during my experience with this vehicle one tire got a screw puncture more easily than expected."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By Old Coastie on Monday, January 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 104,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks and dependability"
Cons: "Rides like a truck"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I saw this truck in the showroom and had to have it. It comes with the luggage rack (that we use to carry our kayak) and running boards. Real classy style. We have driven to both coasts and Canada averaging 20 - 23 MPG on the highway with speed limits of 55 to 85. Seats are comfortable but we have to remember it is a truck so it does not ride like a nice sedan. Best thing about my Frontier is its looks and dependability. Original tires lasted 82,000 miles and I have just changed the oil and done routine maintenance"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful