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 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."
5 people out of 9 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 29 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
By Bud on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Local driving 17 MPG."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife and I bought this truck and we are very happy with it. We bought the SV with the V-6 engine. It was equipped with the value package which includes a lot of accessories. This truck is very fast and powerful. It is much better than others in its class. We would recommend this truck."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By mike on Saturday, April 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice looking"
Cons: "uncomfotable seats,engine ticks are normal"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"At $25000 miles my 4cylinde started ticking Mostly when accelerating slow.I took it to dealer and for $100 I was told there was a memorandum on this motor the ticking does not affect the motor.I would like to sell it but who is going to spend over 10,000 for a nice looking truck that ticks"
7 people out of 18 found this review helpful