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 echo3389 on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "good power, good price, 4x4, handles well"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Good truck, 4x4 has done very well off road and in the snow/slush/sleet/ice untreated roads/etc. Has good power. Only true drawback is the transmission: Its shift points are a little weird and it has lag when shifting into reverse. Essentially you shift and then it thinks about it for a few seconds and then drops into gear with a significant thump. I've heard this complaint about the 2010 Frontier before, and it doesn't seem to impact reliability, it's just annoying. Also, going down the road it behaves at highway speed but can be a little slow to shift through the lower gears under acceleration. Interior is nice with plenty of space, dash and instrument cluster are well designed and functional. Overall I like the truck (aside from that silly transmission)."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Jo Trucker on Friday, February 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, Sporty, decent gas mileage, versatile."
Cons: "Heavy, tires are expensive. But thats just me."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this truck used with 20,000 miles on it and has never stranded me anywhere. Very reliable and worth every penny of the $17,500 I paid for it. The version is a Nismo which compared to standard trucks of this make has a few extras that I like such as Bilstein shocks, rear locking differential, alloy wheels, bottom skid plates, (the metal could've been made with higher gauge steel as it's a little thin but probably wanted to make the GVW lighter which is understandable). The truck is sporty, has aluminum wheels and look good with the original OE tires BF Goodrich Rugged Trails with the white lettering out. Plenty of room for your stuff in the rear of the cab and even comes stock with a first aid kit and tie down strap storage box. The stock audio is only 4 speaker (2 6X9's in the front doors and 2 6.5" in the rear doors) it has dash speaker slots for tweeters on driver and passenger sides for a component speaker system but isn't stock. Surprisingly the stock speakers are 2 ohm and sound fair, made by Blaupunkt. I replaced mine with Alpines and a Pioneer DVD double Din. Tires are expensive when they wear out about $550 a whack at one time but thats the BF Goodrich that is OE. The worst thing that happened is I started hearing a whine from the engine and did some research online and found out this year and others has a timing chain tensioner issue where the material that the timing chain rides against gets worn down and starts to whine, they say it doesn't affect the performance of the engine it's just an annoying noise and it is. The dealer covered all the costs to replace the timing chain and tensioners but took all day. They told me the new parts have proved to stand the abuse of the timing chain and it wont happen again as they are using different material now. FYI they also told me had I had to pay for the job it would've cost me in the neighborhood of $5G's wow! Motor has plenty of power 4.0L V6 and has a good powerband at about 40 MPH it takes off. 6 years later I have 76K on the truck which i get is low for an 07 but I only drive 3 miles 1 way to work. The seats are comfortable with lumbar support on the driver seat and passenger seat has a folding back to make room for oddball shaped cargo or your German Sheperd as I do. Recently I have had several offers for it but I like it too much to 86 it just yet or maybe never. If you want a solid truck that is reliable and looks sporty but dont want to fork out the cheddar for the Toyota (Get this..as I said I paid $17,500 for the 07 Nismo in January of 09 with 20,000K on it and there was a 94 Toyota Tacoma with 68,000K on it and they were asking $18,300) WOW! no brainer for me and the gold YUK paint was oxidized, seats were torn and very worn..whatever. The Nismo looked and smelled new still. Nutshell, Great Truck!!!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Sher on Thursday, February 19, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 280,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"It has been a very dependable truck which has been great for hauling and camping. A smooth ride with excellent air conditioning and heat. 9 years with only regular maintaince other than replacing the brakes and clutch. The one flaw is that the paint has oxidized patches. I would recommend this truck to others."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By billsfan on Saturday, January 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I like the Nissan Frontier. I wish I had picked the crew cab and automatic trans instead of the 6-speed, king cab; too much shifting, especially in town. Rear flip up seats are too small for anyone over 3-4 years old and they have to be in car seats anyway. Also, the four wheel drive doesn't always disengage like it should. I sometimes have to stop and back up before it will disengage."
18 people out of 35 found this review helpful
By mike d. on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,700overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks good,decent fuel mpg for a truck"
Cons: "wide turn for a small width truck"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Nissan won't do recall on known problems with their vehicles,instead they give you a limited extended warranty.I would have given higher ratings for reliability and overall rating if Nissan did the right thing and had recalls for known problems/defects."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
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."
11 people out of 21 found this review helpful