New 2018
Nissan Frontier Crew Cab Pickup

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

Starting under $20,000, the 2018 Nissan Frontier is an affordable, comfortable and capable midsize pickup that’s ready for a hard day’s work or a weekend of play. Two body styles, two bed lengths, two wheelbases, two transmissions and two engines are available including a beefy 4.0-liter V6 that makes 261 horsepower. All Crew Cab models get the V6, while King Cab buyers can also choose a more fuel-efficient 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Five trim levels are available: S, SV, SL, the 2-wheel-drive-only Desert Runner and the Pro4X, which is only available with 4-wheel drive. Both engines are offered with a 6-speed manual or a dated 5-speed automatic transmission. The new Frontier faces stiff competition from its rivals the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma, all of which offer better fuel economy and more amenities.

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You'll Like This Pickup If...

With such an extensive lineup of body styles, powertrains and trim levels, there’s a 2018 Frontier to fit every budget and lifestyle. And that’s one of the reasons Nissan’s pickup has been so popular for so long. The new Frontier is perfect for those looking for an affordable work truck, a comfortable daily driver or a rugged off-roader.

You May Not Like This Pickup If...

If you’re interested in a diesel-powered truck, the Nissan Frontier is not what you are looking for. Chevy offers a 2.8-liter turbodiesel engine in the Colorado, and GMC offers the same engine in the Canyon. Chevy’s new Colorado ZR2 and Toyota’s Tacoma TRDPro are also more off-road capable than the Frontier Pro4X.

What's New for 2018

This year every 2018 Nissan Frontier gets a standard rearview camera. The base S model now includes standard air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth and a 5.0-inch color display. Also new is the Midnight Edition package, which includes a gloss-black grille, 18-inch gloss-black aluminum wheels and other blacked-out trim. It’s available on the Crew Cab SV 4x2 and 4x4 automatic-transmission models.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

This is a very comfortable truck. The 2018 Nissan Frontier features large, well-shaped seats and its suspension doesn’t throw you around. Even over a rough road with an empty bed, the Frontier has a car-like quality that you’ll appreciate as the years of ownership pass. Our very likable test truck was a Frontier King Cab in the base S trim. No frippery and very little glitter. It was white with a gray interior. Good basic transportation, a work truck with a 152-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and a well-geared 5-speed manual transmission that was easy to shift -- the light clutch effort kept it from being a left-leg buster in stop-and-go traffic. Power was adequate around town, although with a full load, you better plan way ahead when passing or merging onto the highway. Unfortunately at speed, there's wind noise from around the large outside mirrors. Engine and road noise intrude as well.

Favorite Features

PRO4X
The new Nissan Frontier Pro4X model boasts some serious off-road cred. Well beyond just 4-wheel drive, the Frontier Pro4X packs a heavy-duty suspension, Bilstein high-pressure performance gas shock absorbers, skidplates protecting the fuel tank, oil pan and transfer case; 16-inch wheels, 265/75R16 All-Terrain tires and an electronic locking rear differential.

4.0-liter V6 ENGINE
Although the 152-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is marginally more fuel efficient, the Frontier’s capability and the truck’s entertainment value increase exponentially with the 4.0-liter V6. With 261 horsepower the V6 gives the Frontier more payload capacity, more towing ability and more speed. The larger, more powerful engine also masks some of the sins of the Nissan’s antiquated automatic transmission.

Vehicle Details

Interior

No one is going to confuse the dated and overtly simple interior of the 2018 Nissan Frontier for the cabin of a Bentley, but it’s comfortable, functional and in line with the pickup’s intended purpose. Open the rear-hinged doors of the King Cab model and you'll find a pair of cramped seats that are useful for children and short rides. If you plan on carrying passengers frequently, opt for the Crew Cab model with its traditional doors and adult-sized 3-passenger bench. The rear seats on all Frontier models flip up for more space, and the front-passenger seat can fold flat, creating an impromptu workstation. Leather replaces cloth on higher trim levels.

Exterior

In the age of oversized hulking grilles and chrome galore, the new 2018 Nissan Frontier may be a little conservative-looking for some. With its flared wheelwells and an attractive choice of aggressively styled wheels, we find it to be attractive in a handsome, get-the-job-done kind of way. It’s simple-looking, but purposeful and it has a masculine quality all trucks should possess, especially in Desert Runner and PRO-4X trims, which wear off-road equipment like chunky tires and skidplates, as well as available roof racks and crossbars. A long bed is available on Crew Cab models, giving it the same bed length as the smaller-cabin King Cab.

Notable Standard Equipment

Most buyers of the new Nissan Frontier will skip the least expensive King Cab S model with manual transmission. It’s a very basic truck lacking power windows, although air conditioning, cruise control, an AM/FM/CD stereo and Bluetooth are now standard. If you want power windows and mirrors, or a USB-equipped audio system, you'll have to move up to the more civilized SV trims, which also include NissanConnect with mobile apps such as Facebook, and streaming audio like Pandora and iHeartRadio. The Crew Cab SL adds leather seats, Rockford Fosgate audio and a standard V6 engine.

Notable Optional Equipment

For 2018, Frontier SV models offer a popular SV Value Truck package that includes an auto-dimming mirror, spray-in bedliner, Utili-track tie-down system, dual-zone climate control, an upgraded audio system, heated front seats and rear parking sensors. The 2-wheel-drive (2WD) Desert Runner adds attitude as well as Bilstein off-road shocks and off-road wheels and tires, while the 4-wheel-drive (4WD) PRO-4X models add an electronic locking rear differential and skidplates. Crew Cab PRO-4X models offer a Premium Package with power-adjustable leather seats and heated outside mirrors, while SL and SV models can get a power moonroof. Campers should check out the bed tent available from Nissan dealers.

Under the Hood

Standard on the 2018 Nissan Frontier King Cab models is a 152-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. It comes with a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission. A 4.0-liter V6 is available in King Cab and is standard in Crew Cab models or any 4WD Frontier. With a robust 261 horsepower it provides some scoot. With it, a 6-speed manual is standard and a 5-speed automatic is available. The 4-cylinder model is no slouch, offering a respectable tow rating of 3,500 pounds, and 2WD V6 models can tow up to 6,500 pounds. All 2018 Nissan Frontiers run on regular gasoline. Unfortunately, fuel economy trails far behind the new GM midsize trucks, with just 23-mpg highway for 4-cylinder models or 22/23 mpg for V6 versions.

2.5-liter inline-4
152 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
171 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 mpg (2WD, manual), 17/22 mpg (2WD, automatic)

4.0-liter V6
261 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
281 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/22 mpg (2WD, manual), 16/23 mpg (2WD, automatic), 16/21 mpg (4WD, manual), 15/21 mpg (4WD, automatic)

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Pricing Notes

The stripped-down 2018 Nissan Frontier King Cab S with a manual transmission has a tempting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $20,000 including a $975 charge for destination and delivery. Instead check out the mid-level SV trim on either King Cab or Crew Cab models. They start around $24,000 for King Cab 4-cylinder models, or about $27,000 if you want a V6-powered King Cab. The long-wheelbase Crew Cab Frontier SV with 4WD starts around $30,500. While its starting price undercuts rivals, the Nissan's pricing becomes more in line with the competition as you climb trims, though it's still below that of a loaded Tacoma or diesel-powered Colorado or Canyon. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Frontier pickup truck. As the years go by, we expect the Frontier to hold its value well, but still not top that of the Tacoma.

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