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 Joe on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,900overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power, Handleing, Hauling and Pulling Ability."
Cons: "Really, I can't think of any."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"For the Record,, I test drove them all, Silverado, Ford S150, Toyota Tacoma/Tundra, Ram 1500, and again, I Chose Nissan for the most Truck for the Buck. So far, I'm really glad that I got another Nissan Truck. This Truck take's the curve's better than the '93 I4 AT KC Nissan Truck, that I had for 20 year's, and replaced it with a New '13 SVV6 AT KC Nissan Truck. I've had the '13 now for about 1 1/2 year's. So far,, I like everything about this Truck. The V6 has a lot of Horse Power. When I first got the '13,, I was getting about 19.5 MPG, in mixed driving. Seem's like after the Ring's seated at about 2000 mile's, the MPG went up to about 20.5, in Mixed driveing. The '13 is getting about the same MPG,, as I was getting with the '93 4 cyl. in mixed driveing. I'm real pleased. I'm also pleased with the way the Truck look's as well. Nissan did a very good job on Styling. I'm retired,, and only have about 3900 mile's on the '13, so I just can't say about durability yet. But I can say,, according to KBB, the '13,, is holding it's value really good,, and is still worth more than I paid for the Truck. Good Luck with whichever Truck that you get."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By kanman on Saturday, November 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking truck, Reasonably priced"
Cons: "Poor quality and Poor MPG"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I had always wanted one of these pickups. They were the perfect size pickup for me, I liked the looks of it, and it was reasonably priced, so I purchased one used with 30,000 miles with a clean carfax. Here is what I have noticed in 2 years of just city/highway driving: Mileage is only 13-15 MPG, Very noisy cabin, lots of squeaks and rattles, Cabin vibrates excessively at idle, Factory brakes squeal, Paint chips very easily, paint is also cracking on roof, Constantly having to replace items that come loose underneath, such as exhaust parts, heat shield, etc. No Major problems, so far, but I don't have a lot of confidence in this truck, as it has left me stranded on a couple of occasions because of starting problems."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By king frontier on Friday, November 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 185,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, sporty feel, quick and powerful"
Cons: "not a full-size truck"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"this truck has served me very well over the past 10 years. i have towed and hauled large loads and trailers that you would only expect a full-size truck to handle. the inside is small for a person who is slightly larger than average. maintenance has been very affordable on this truck. i have used mobil 1 full synthetic motor oil since the day i bought the truck and changed it every 5,000 miles. good quality tires could be found for less than $150 each. i had to replace the cam sensors at 160,000 miles, and the driver's window motor (that i rolled up and down every single day, and every single time that i drove the truck) and regulator at 165,000. the only issues that i had with this truck that upset me was more with the nissan design and quality. the catalytic converters went bad at 90,000 miles. i had purchased an extended warranty on the truck when i bought it brand new and nissan would not cover this part because the manufacturer only covered it until 80,000 miles. after arguing with nissan about it i ended up paying $1,600 for the parts and replaced them myself for what the dealer was going to charge me $2,800 to do. the transmission had to be replaced at 140,000 miles for a problem nissan was aware of but would only cover under a recall if it was done with less than 100,000 miles. i ended up having to pay for a new transmission and a modification to have an external trans cooler and replace the faulty radiator that leaks coolant into the transmission side. unfortunately nissan was aware of this problem and would not issue a complete recall to replace the radiator, only extended the factory warranty coverage for it. i still drive this truck about 100 miles everyday. i plan to get rid of it for a full-size truck and will not go with nissan after the issues i had with known problems that i had to pay thousands of dollars to fix. however, i am still very satisfied with how this truck has held up and the work it has done that many people including the dealer said it cannot do because of its size. i towed a 12 foot box trailer fully loaded across the country (new york to texas) 2 days without issue and had to tow a full-size truck on a flatbed trailer for a friend."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
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."
18 people out of 30 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