By KBB.com Editors
The days of the compact pickup are fast closing. Witness the 2009 Nissan Frontier, a once-compact contender that has grown in size, power and weight. Along the way, it has also grown in capability and passenger comfort, placing it in the same general category as the mid-size Dodge Dakota and Toyota Tacoma. The Frontier has much in common with its larger sibling, the Titan, offering a fully-boxed frame, Nissan's adjustable Utili-track Bed Channel System and a spray-in bed liner. With one of the most powerful V6 engines in its class, the Frontier offers superior towing with excellent acceleration. Although bargain shoppers may lament the absence of a standard-cab model, the four-cylinder King Cab is still an affordable truck, priced under $20,000.
If you need a truck that hauls, tows and loves to get dirty, but don't want to deal with the mass of a full-size pickup, the 2009 Nissan Frontier will impress you with its capability, utility and refined ride.
Even though the Frontier's V6 is impressively smooth and powerful, if your workload – or playload –absolutely demands a big V8, then you'll have to look elsewhere. Also, the Frontier does not offer a standard-cab model.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier receives a revised front end and new grille, as well as new 16- and 18-inch wheels. Also new for 2009 is a PRO-4X model on both the King and LE Crew Cab models. The PRO-4X package adds a long list of goodies including Bilstein shocks, additional skid plates, electronic rear differential locker and off-road tires
Driving Impressions That we expected more acceleration from the Frontier's V6 says more about our imprudent expectations than it does about the engine. With 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, this...4.0-liter variant of the acclaimed engine found in the company's 350Z, Maxima and Infiniti G37 might be the smoothest, strongest V6 engine ever put in a pickup. In addition, the 2009 Nissan Frontier handles and rides better than some sedans. Big mirrors contribute to a fair amount of wind noise, but overall the cabin is quiet and comfortable, especially for a pickup with such noteworthy capabilities. Our long test drive concluded with some serious rock-crawling on a Texas ranch, 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.
The Frontier's stiff frame provides the foundation for the pickup's sedan-like ride and handling and its sturdy off-road capability.
The Frontier's purposeful interior is defined by its flexibility. King Cab models feature smaller rear-hinged rear doors that provide access to flip-up rear seats, while Crew Cab models feature traditional rear doors and a more conventional back seat. Both models offer removable storage boxes beneath the rear seats, plus an available fold-flat front passenger seat for increased interior cargo flexibility. The Frontier's cabin features 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.Exterior
With its "angled strut" grille and sharp, pronounced fender flares, the 2009 Nissan Frontier is unmistakable as a direct descendent of the company's daunting full-size Titan pickup, although more athletic looking than its larger sibling. The Frontier offers a number of pickup-truck firsts, such as the Utili-track tie-down system that features moveable cargo hooks located in a five-rail in-bed system. Nissan also offers a spray-in bed liner as well as a number of off-road upgrades, skid plates and wheel options.
In base XE trim, the 2009 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) 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 bedliner, single-CD sound system, six-disc in-dash sound system with MP3 playback, air conditioning, power door locks/windows/mirrors, keyless entry, front side-impact airbags, Dealer-installed portable navigation unit, Vehicle Dynamic Control stability control system and front and rear side-curtain airbags. The PRO-4X off-road model includes skid plates, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist features, Utili-track system, an on-demand electronic locking rear differential and Bilstein performance shocks. LE trims can be outfitted with power driver's and passengers seats, leather seating surfaces and a power glass moonroof.
The economical four-cylinder engine is offered only on the two-wheel-drive XE King Cab, which might become an issue if gasoline prices continue to remain volatile. 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), 15/19 (4WD)
By Jettboy77 on Friday, March 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value Looks very Stylish and Sexy Grille"
Cons: "4cyl is lacking power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great truck I bought used in 2010 from dealer only 200 orig miles owner apparently passed away and truck was returned to dealer. I paid $12,999 plus $1100 extra for 10/100,000 warranty. The vehicle has been a wonderful ad to my family! It has stylish good looks and have had no major mechanical issues or fails. Still looks brand new just put new Goodyear tires on and it rides so smooth like a luxury sedan. The only issue is the lack of engine power on the 4cyl need to downshift for freeway passing power. I plan on keeping the truck for a very long time however when that time comes for a replacement I will get a new Frontier with a V6. Great Truck !!!!"
By madman1158 on Sunday, March 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price and great to drive"
Cons: "needs a little maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great pick up truck for work or play asking 11500-12000 for it. Needs a little maintenance but overall great. You can fit 4 inside with comfort. Cab has the hidden hinges for easy access to the back seats."
By Aaron on Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Off road, MPG, power and reliability!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the 2012 pro 4x brand new. I have owned 08 07 and 04 other makes trucks but have found this truck has everything I have ever wanted. I have 6 speed manual transmission. I have taken this truck hunting in the mountains through some of the harshest roads(or should I say goat trails) imaginable. My GPS told me to take a road to get to my hunting spot as the closest path. Needless to say, I found my way on to a goat path about 5' wide and steep cliff on the side. It took me about 3 hours to go 7 miles but was astonished my truck made it as well as with me in it. By the time I realized that my GPS was wrong, I could not turn around and made the decision to not back up because I had gone so far already. I just kept telling myself it was only going to get better, but only got worse. The stock pro 4x got me out and can now share my story. I have never been that scared in a vehicle ever. And I live in Idaho. This truck gives me 19 MPG in town and couldn't ask for a more reliable truck. I push the limits during hunting season and this truck allows me to make it back. I agree with Nissan stating this truck is superb in the off road department. Best truck and I will never get rid of it."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Elvis on Saturday, February 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power, comfort, conveniences, decent fuel mileage"
Cons: "crazy bright odometer and 4x4 indicator lights"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this truck used. It drives nice. Power for towing a small boat is excellent and my actual calculated fuel mileage is better than expected. Right now around is an average of 18.4 and I often get 21-22 on the freeway. I get over 20 mpg on the freeway towing my boat at 65-70 mph."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Dan on Thursday, January 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 77,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun, powerful, will last a long time"
Cons: "none so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"truck has got lots of snappy power and super fun to go run around in the woods. my check engine light does keep coming on, but i have been told as long as its not blinking its nothing serious. Also a down side is its a short bed so makes taking dirt bikes out."
By South Bend Mike on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very affordably priced"
Cons: "Nissan is disinterested once the purchase is made"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"After 40K miles, lots of squeks, rattles, road noise is really loud, harsh ride, worst sound system I've heard since the old days of the AM only mono radios. Probably the most dissatisfying part of the experience is dealing with Nissan's "customer care" department. Had an issue with a heater fan and waited for over three weeks for a replacement part... for a new vehicle. Absolutely unacceptable. My purchase came down between this Frontier and a Tacoma. Made the wrong choice on this one."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful