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 Mike M on Saturday, October 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,748overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun and easy to drive."
Cons: "Driver seat could go back further for tall drivers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Nice sporty looking truck. Handles very well and runs great. Doesn't use a drop of oil. Tinted windows on truck and matching high rise canopy. Whole vehicle alarm system including canopy. Locking tailgate for added security. Great after market 4 speaker stereo. Cruise. Bug deflector. K & N air filter. Almost entirely highway miles. Corbeau racing seat on driver's side gives ample room and comfort for tallest drivers. Factory bed liner. Deer whistles."
12 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By ThatGuy2012 on Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,765overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, comfortable, smooth ride"
Cons: "It has an obtuse turn radius on it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love this truck, its super simple yet has a nice appeal to it. Had never had any problems with it. I drive back and forth between Texas and Georgia 2-3 times a year and never had a problem. The only thing I don't care so much for is how basic it is. There is no usb input or bluetooth. Also, can't forget the part about no cruise control, that's what I despise the most about it. Other than that I have no problems with it."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Mark on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 102,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Currently 102000 miles, not one problem. Truck has original brakes! Nissan quality. Only dislike is the use of hard, cheap plastics inside. But for $26000, I will take it. I have owned 2 frontiers and would not hesitate to buy a third."
13 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By JM on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power,MPG,Towing,Rack&Pinion,4W Disk,Roomy,"
Cons: "So Far None"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"@ 3500 Mile's it is way too early to give a Value, Reliability, or Quality Review, but so far so good. Previously owned a '93 Nissan KK, AT, 2WD, 4cyl. Bought it New,, Kept for 20 year's, & 176K Mile's. It was a really good Truck, and nothing major wrong with Truck, when I sold it. Engine was still Smooth, Quiet, and AT,, was still good with no problem's. Paid 11K $'s,, and sold it for 4K $'s. So don't let anybody tell you that a Nissan doesn't hold it's Value, as long as you take good care of it,, with Floor Mat's, Seat Cover's, & Engine Maintenance. They Pay Good Money for a Truck that is Taken Good Care of. Nobody Want's a Ragged Out Raw Hided Truck with hole's in the Seat. Which is mostly why, I went with a New Nissan Truck Again in 2013. Although Money Talk's,, and Nissan Beat's the Heck out of Toyota and the Othern's on Price and Value. Nissan V6's come standard with a Transmission Cooler,, but a Toyota V6 doesn't. That's a Big $ item too. So far my 2013 SVV6 AT 2WD KC Frontier is doing well,, with no problem's. Engine is quiet,, but a new engine should be, anyway. MPG - I'm getting right @ 21 MPG with mixed driveing,, which is about what I was getting with the '93 AT 2WD 4Cyl KC. Same Driveing over same route, same Station/same Pump, And that's Amazing to me. :) So far so good, but I'll know more in about 10 year's."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Cliff B on Friday, July 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,325overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gets 19 miles to gallon"
Cons: "Cramped driving, no leg room, thin paint on body"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought a new Nissan Frontier ,in Riviera Beach Fl. about one year ago, have 22K miles, at 4000 miles went to rotate tires did passenger side first then drivers side second rear lug spun, Service said you touched we're not responsible, Nissan Motor Corp. said they don't have factory defects, they wouldn't fix either. at 6000, miles stereo speakers went out, service said nothing wrong with speakers would not replace, 15000 miles drivers side rear half inch bolt reduced to 3/8 inch thread holding leaf spring to shackle broke, I had a Samsung refrigerator in truck bed, leaf spring failed then passenger side failed, resulting in my paying $660. to reshape leaf springs and add helper spring to correctly fix sprung leaf springs, Service rep said I must have over loaded truck, A Refrigerator? Really. Then last week 6/28/014 battery was dead and had to replace, of course Dealer still wouldn't stand behind factory warranty, It Had a Warranty?"
17 people out of 32 found this review helpful
By M1Agawam on Thursday, May 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Standard is fun to drive, v6 has power!"
Cons: "Nissan's attitude towards their customers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This was an emergency purchase in 2010 (son's car died and I gave him my old one). I'd been looking around for about a year and, despite being an unhappy Nissan auto owner in the distant past, I identified the Nissan Frontier as my next purchase. It had 20k miles on it so I purchased the extended warranty. I'm glad I did because the warranty paid for itself within the first year! Rear axle seal (passenger side) kept blowing out and ruining the e-brake pads (which they refuse to replace under warranty). This happened twice while I was on the factory warranty. I also had to have tie rods replaced and the fuel pump and sensors replaced. I drive this truck about 800 miles a month and most of that is on the highway, I don't off-road or anything. Every Nissan I've ever owned has had some sort of major flaw which has really killed the brand for me."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful