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 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."
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