By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
The Nissan Frontier is one of just two mid-size pickups on the market for 2013. With the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon siblings taking a year off ahead of new model introductions, that leaves only the Toyota Tacoma as the Frontier's primary competitor. Unlike the Tacoma, the Frontier does not offer a regular-cab model, but rather the more spacious King Cab and Crew Cab setups. The Frontier makes a great alternative to a full-size truck. It is ideal for hauling everything from mulch to motorbikes, and feels solid on road or off. With a stronger V6 engine than the Tacoma and features like a navigation/infotainment system, spray-on bedliner and Nissan's Utili-track tie-down system, the 2013 Frontier remains one of the finest mid-size trucks we've seen in recent years.
If you want a tough but well-equipped truck that's smaller and more fuel-efficient than most full-size pickups, the Nissan Frontier is a solid choice. The 2013 Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds and tackle rugged paths while still offering good looks and a decent highway ride.
Those who need to tow really heavy loads will have to step up to a full-size truck like the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 or the Frontier's big brother, the Nissan Titan. If you want a basic compact truck with a regular cab, your sole option for 2013 is the Toyota Tacoma.
The NissanConnect navigation and information system is now available on Crew Cab versions of the Frontier. Top-line Crew Cab models receive a backup camera, rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. Desert Runner off-road editions are available, and fuel economy has increased for most models.
Driving Impressions In everyday driving, the Frontier performs as well any mid-size SUV we've tested, though the truck's ride becomes noticeably harsher over rough pavement. Paired with the refined 4.0-liter V6 engine...that is standard on Crew Cab models and all but the two lowest trims of the King Cab, the Nissan Frontier has plenty of power for passing vehicles and pulling loads. With the exception of wind noise from the large side mirrors, we found the Frontier's cabin quiet and comfortable. Those who go off-roading – or just want to appear as if they do – will be interested in the Desert Runner or even more hardcore PRO-4X models. During our test with a PRO-4X 4-wheel-drive (4WD) model, the Nissan Frontier easily tackled tough terrain thanks to features like a locking rear differential and Bilstein performance shocks.
In addition to a much-needed navigation system, NissanConnect provides information about traffic, weather and points of interest. The system takes prompts from voice command or the touch of a finger on its 5.8-inch color screen.
UTILI-TRACK BED CHANNEL SYSTEM
If you own a truck, you're more than likely to move something in it. Nissan's Utili-track makes the job easier and more secure thanks to adjustable tie-down cleats built into the bed.
The 2013 Frontier's cabin is versatile and comfortable. King Cab models feature a pair of small, forward-facing rear seats with storage bins beneath, while Crew Cab models have a 3-row bench that's comfortable enough for adults. The King Cab has easy rear access thanks to half-size rear-hinged doors, while Crew Cabs use regular doors. All Frontiers boast storage versatility with rear seats that flip up to create open space and a front passenger seat that folds flat to become an impromptu workstation. Cloth is the standard seat material, with leather available. Lumbar support in higher trims improves driver comfort. We wish the steering wheel would telescope and not just tilt.Exterior
With its raised fender flares and blocky design, the Frontier has a familiar family resemblance to Nissan's Xterra SUV and Titan full-size truck. Unlike the mammoth Titan, the smaller Frontier has a sportier, more athletic attitude. King Cab and Crew Cab models have the same overall length of 205.5 inches. A long bed is available in Crew Cabs, giving them the same 73.3-inch size of those found on King Cab models. PRO-4X models have multiple skid plates to protect vital parts from nature's jabs. Top-line Crew Cab SL trims have tubular roof rails similar to those on the Xterra.
Most 2013 Nissan Frontier models are reasonably well equipped with the exception of base S trim King Cab models. Those least expensive of Frontier models lack air conditioning, power mirrors, power door locks and power windows, cruise control, and even a radio. Stepping up to SV trim adds features like an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with color display. PRO-4X models have 4-wheel drive standard and a locking differential. Crew Cab SL models come very well equipped with leather seats, Rockford Fosgate premium audio and the NissanConnect system. Frontier King Cab models come with a 4- or 6-cylinder engine, while all Crew Cab models exclusively use the V6. Wheels range in size from 15 to 18 inches.
Most convenience and performance features are tied to varying trim levels of the Frontier, but some packages are available. Among them are a Preferred Package for King Cab S models that add the much-needed AM/FM/CD player and air conditioning. Higher-trim models can add features such as the Utili-track tie-down system, a rear-view monitor, a tow hitch, navigation, Bluetooth wireless streaming, and Pandora radio. Crew Cab models can substitute their roughly 5-foot-long bed for one that's just over six feet like those in King Cab models. Accessories include a bedliner, step rails and even a dome tent for the truck bed.
Two engines are offered in the 2013 Nissan Frontier: a 4-cylinder that's available in rear-wheel-drive King Cab models, or a more powerful V6 offered in all Crew Cab models and higher trims of the King Cab. Transmission choices include 5-speed and 6-speed manuals or a 5-speed automatic. Even 4-cylinder models have a respectable tow rating of 3,500 pounds, and rear-wheel-drive V6 models can tow up to 6,500 pounds. All 2013 Nissan Frontiers run on regular unleaded gasoline. The Frontier's fuel economy has improved slightly, but is still rated at only up to 23 mpg for 4-cylinder models or 22 mpg for V6 versions.
152 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 mpg (2WD, manual), 17/23 mpg (2WD, automatic)
261 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
281 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg (2WD, manual), 16/22 mpg (2WD, automatic), 16/21 mpg (4WD, manual), 15/21 mpg (4WD, automatic)
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."
3 people out of 8 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."
1 person out of 3 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."
14 people out of 30 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 !!!"
7 people out of 16 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"
18 people out of 33 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."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful