Nissan’s Frontier 2022 Crew Cab PRO-4X
AN INTO-THE-PARK HOMERUN
The pickup truck in America carries a heavy load of responsibility. Not only do pickup trucks need to perform the primary needs of towing and hauling, but they also need to provide ample legroom for families, offer luxurious amenities, bend into their local country club parking lot, and launch off the line in any terrain. Oh, and get decent gas mileage. Unfortunately, this list of demands is impossible to retail at a reasonable price, so the consumer is often forced to compromise. Ask anyone what their favorite pickup truck is and their response will usually follow with two to three reasons and at least one story that cemented their loyalty to the brand. With that, the 2022 Nissan Frontier is my favorite modern pickup truck. Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to live with a Nissan Frontier PRO-4X for a week. During that time, I discovered that the Frontier is faster than it looks, capable off-road, and offers full-size curb appeal at a mid-size price.
Rugged Good Looks
The new Nissan Frontier pays tribute to the original D21 Hardbody pickup truck. Evidence of this can be seen in its exterior styling. This new Frontier carries a bold look with squared angles, from the LED headlamps to its flared fenders. On its own, the Frontier looks excellent. However, the PRO-4X trim package adds a Sports Bar, step rails, red tow hooks, and burly all-terrain tires to let the world know it can handle a weekend adventure in the woods, mountains, or desert.
The 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X, while smaller in size, offers a similar visual presence and performance experience of a 4×4 super truck, but without the stigma of big-truck stereotypes. Granted, a Frontier will probably struggle to beat a Ford F-150 Raptor in an as-the-crow-flies race across a desert. But the Frontier will stand tall parked next to it at the local grocery store, and keep up on off-road trails for a fraction of the cost.
Living the Ranch Life with the Frontier PRO-4X
Here on the dirt roads, the Nissan Frontier proved it could handle the demands of a farm truck while also providing a surprising number of thrills. The Frontier’s 3.8-liter V6 (standard on all trim levels) produces 310-hp and 281 lb.-ft of torque. Furthermore, it uses a nine-speed automatic transmission to send its power to the rear wheels. Off-road-focused trim levels like the PRO-4X offer on-the-fly selectable four-wheel-drive via a dial on the dashboard. During dirt road testing, the midsize truck was happy to spin its rear wheels and produce Foghorn Leghorn size rooster tails.
What I found surprising was how quick the 2022 Nissan Frontier pickup truck feels. On paper, the Frontier PRO-4X sprints from zero to 60 mph in the seven-second range, depending on its body style configuration and drive setting. But in the real world, the sensation feels quick as the truck’s nine-speed gearbox runs through its gears in rapid-fire succession. I frequently had to ease off the throttle to avoid unintentionally breaking the speed limit. Surprising performance is a common characteristic of Nissan vehicles that is not limited to the Z and GTR. Anyone driving a Nissan Altima can attest to the brand’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing brisk acceleration.
As a result, I could blast down bumpy, slippery dirt roads at high speeds with total control. I felt the wheel go numb in a few instances and my seat went light as the truck lifted off the ground. The PRO-4X package’s all-terrain tires and Bilstein off-road shocks absorbed the force of gravity upon landing. The Nissan Frontier has notably firm steering, which does require getting used to, like a new workout routine.
Like a high-performance super truck, the 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X offers fun with functionality. It accelerates like it wants to impress you with a subtle but noteworthy V6 hum as it propels forward to a limited top speed of 114 mph. The satisfying acceleration causes a surge of unexpected joy, on par with finding $20 in a winter coat.
Pros and Cons with the 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
There are a few things I did not like about this new Frontier. First, the Sports Bar ($1,095 option) increases the truck’s curb appeal with a touch of tactical ruggedness, but makes it harder to reach objects stored at the back of the cargo bed. The off-road step rails ($950 option) look great, but their sandpaper texture makes scuffing a pair of boots as easy as spraying mud off them. Also, considering the PRO-4X is a premium trim level, I expected more colors in the interior. Lastly, the PRO-4X should offer a better exhaust system to give the V6’s voice some baritone.
Now for the pros, starting with the quality sound. Its Fender audio system will have you sitting in parking lots waiting for songs to finish before opening the door. The rear seat legroom is ample, with storage space under the seat. Moreover, the LED lights in the cargo bed are powerful enough to turn night into day. I appreciate that Nissan decided to stick with a simple pull-down gear shift lever instead of a dial. This kind of shifter is easier to use and feels almost nostalgic. My favorite thing about the 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is how it drives. Its handling characteristics promote joy even at school zone speeds.
Pricing and Gas Mileage
During 700 miles of heavy-footed road testing involving long-distance highway travel and barreling down dirt roads, the Frontier averaged 18 mpg. The Frontier’s exterior design may feature a sculpted physique, but underneath, it is big boned with a curb weight of nearly 5,000 pounds.
The Nissan Frontier is available in twelve variants, with two and four doors and an optional long bed. Off-road-focused variants like the PRO-X (rear wheel drive) and PRO-4X come standard only in crew cab configuration. Pricing starts at $27K for a 2022 Nissan Frontier King Cab S, while the PRO-4X trim starts at $37k and comes standard with many off-road goodies. These parts include front and rear stabilizer bars, Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differentials, skid plates for the truck’s oil pan, fuel tanks, and its two-speed transfer case. The 31.6-inch (265/70R17) all-terrain tires increase the truck’s ground clearance to 9.4-inches. In addition, the Frontier offers a 360-degree camera view and a forward-facing camera to see the trail ahead when shifted into 4LO.
The Frontier PRO-4X reviewed here had an MSRP of $46,965, thanks to options like the sports bar, bed access retractable step, and off-road step rails. In addition, the Technology Package includes the latest driver safety aids like lane departure, rear braking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and intelligent cruise control. Nissan’s Pro Convenience Package features a spray-in bed liner, heated front seats and steering wheel, and the off-road mode camera monitor. Finally, the Pro Premium Package adds leather seats, a sunroof, ten speakers worth of Fender audio, and 17-inch Beadlock-style alloy wheels.
The 2022 Nissan Frontier: Still the Last Honest Pickup Truck
The new Nissan Frontier checks all the boxes. It’s reasonably priced, looks good, offers a decent array of trim levels and configurations, and features a drivetrain that can work hard and play harder. Since writing this review, I have seen new Nissan Frontiers, in all colors, popping up in traffic. I take it as a sign that my opinion is shared by other car buyers who want an honest mid-size pickup truck at a still-accessible price point.