By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
Unless you work in construction or have a need to tow massive objects, a mid-size pickup is preferable over a full-size model and will likely fill most of your moving and hauling requirements. While there are a number of options from which to choose, in the world of mid-size pickups, there is no finer example than the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup. As ideal for hauling a massive mulch pile as it is ferrying dirt bikes, jet skis or a single snowmobile, the Frontier Pickup is a versatile and well-rounded vehicle that is as comfortable on road as it is off. With a fully boxed frame for maximum rigidity, the Frontier feels solid and rattle-free. The available spray-in bedliner and Utili-track Bed Channel System place the Frontier a step above its competitors, as does its powerful V6 engine. Then again the Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and Dodge Dakota all offer a standard-cab model, whereas the entry-level cab configuration for the 2012 Nissan Frontier King Cab pickup is an extended cab. Still, as the King Cab's pricing starts well below the $20,000 mark, we don't think too many customers will complain about the extra space.
If you're looking for a compact pickup with big aspirations, the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup makes a good choice. Able to tow up to 6,500 pounds, the Frontier Pickup is a rugged workhorse that just also happens to be rather fashion savvy around town.
If you're looking for the simplest, smallest and least expensive mid-size truck, not to mention one you won't care about if it gets beat up, the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup probably isn't the best choice. Those who need to tow more than 6,500 pounds should look to a full-size V8-powered truck such as the Nissan Titan, Ford F-150 or Toyota Tundra.
For 2012, Nissan adds a new Sport Appearance Package on King Cab and Crew Cab SV models; Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) are made standard on Frontiers with the 4-cylinder engine.
Driving Impressions That the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup's 4.0-liter V6 engine is a variation of the award-wining V6 found in the 370Z had us hoping for Z-like performance in a modern pickup....Instead, what we found was a powerful pickup geared more toward pulling, climbing and hauling, but still capable of putting down some very respectable zero-to-60 times. The 4.0-liter engine is surprisingly refined, offering plenty of power without harsh vibrations or loud mechanical gear noise. With 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque on hand, we had no problem with the chores assigned by our editor, and our fuel economy hovered between 18 and 22 mpg highway, a variation that was dependent upon speed, elevation and cargo. With the exception of the wind noise emanating from the large side mirrors, the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup's cabin is serenely quiet and comfortable. In day-to-day driving, Nissan's Frontier Pickup handles as well as any mid-size SUV we've driven, although the ride over rough pavement is noticeably harsher. Opt for the PRO-4X package with its big BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires, and the Frontier becomes an off-road king. During our test, we challenged our PRO-4X-equipped Frontier Pickup to tackle some serious terrain, 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.
Where some pickups just look the part, the PRO-4X is the real deal, turning the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup from light-utility vehicle to mud-slinging weekend warrior. Toss in the PRO-4X Luxury Package, and you can pamper yourself while punishing your truck.
Inside the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup is a cab that is both versatile and comfortable. Clever features such as the dual-stack glove boxes and numerous 12-volt power points speak to the Frontier's pickup truck purpose, while 1-liter cup holders show a keen understanding of the Frontier's target audience. But Nissan knows a modern pickup must also be a very livable daily driver, so the Frontier can be equipped with such high-end luxury trappings as leather seats, a power glass moonroof, power and heated front seats and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Crew Cab models feature a standard-size rear bench seat and full-size rear doors, while the King Cab is equipped with smaller rear-hinged half doors and a flip-up rear jump seat. Both models can be equipped with a flat-folding front passenger seat and both come standard with removable storage boxes beneath the rear seats.
With its raised fender flares, "angled-strut" grille and oversized tires, the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup clearly draws inspiration from its full-size big brother, the Nissan Titan. But, while the aptly-named Titan seems a colossus, the smaller Frontier has a sportier, more athletic attitude, one geared more toward play rather than work. The 2012 Frontier Pickup offers a choice of King Cab or Crew Cab configurations with a long or short bed and, to keep things looking new, an available spray-in protective bedliner. Underneath the bed and cab, factory-available skid plates protect the Frontier's most vital bits from being damaged while off-road adventuring, while the optional Utili-track bed tie-down system with five movable cargo hooks helps keep precious cargo safely in place.
In base S trim, the 2012 Nissan Frontier Pickup is equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, a 5-speed manual transmission, 4-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 6-foot bed lengths are available on the Crew Cab, while the Frontier King Cab offers only a 6-foot bed.
Features not included at base sticker price are the 4.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel drive, Utili-track Bed Channel System, factory-applied spray-on bedliner, single-disc CD sound system, 6-disc in-dash sound system with MP3 playback, air conditioning, power door locks/windows/mirrors, keyless entry, and Bluetooth. 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 passenger seats, heated leather front seating surfaces, a roof rack with crossbars and a power glass moonroof. The new Sport Appearance Package includes 18-inch SL aluminum-alloy wheels in dark hyper-silver finish, dark grille treatment, body-colored front and rear bumpers, PRO-4X style seats with gray seat bolsters and stitching, foglights, body-side "Frontier" sport graphic, white-faced gauges, and Bluetooth.
The economical 4-cylinder engine is offered only on the 2-wheel-drive S and SV King Cab, which might become an issue if gasoline prices start to soar again. Nissan's 4.0-liter 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 @ 5,200 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 (2WD, manual), 17/22 (2WD, automatic)
261 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
281 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/20 (2WD, manual), 15/20 (2WD, automatic), 15/20 (4WD, manual), 14/19 (4WD, automatic)
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 !!!"
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"
5 people out of 10 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."
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."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By swva on Thursday, September 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Strong torque, hauls weight easily, smooth riding"
Cons: "A bit dated, no backup camera or sensors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought my Frontier SL crew cab 4WD long bed in May 2011 (model year closeout). I paid 80% of factory window sticker. Truck has never needed a warranty repair or visit back to the dealer. Gas mileage is 16/20, pretty close to estimate. I have a few gripes about truck but absolutely no problems. I previously owned Chevy S-10s and a Toyota Tacoma. This truck is superior in power, ride and handling, and reliability."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Turkey hunter on Wednesday, September 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Overall quality, mpg and engine performance"
Cons: "VERY thin paint!!!!!!!!!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Good mpg, good room inside, great looks. Absolutely no issues in 1.2 years of ownership. Only complaint is very thin paint. Very easy to scratch. Maybe all new cars are the same but traded in a 2004 Chevy p/u that had much better paint quality. When we need a family vehicle in the next 2 years would seriously consider a Nissan SUV."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful