Because of ever-changing COVID-19 travel restrictions, the completely redesigned 2022 Nissan Frontier did not make it to this year's Mudfest, the outdoor activity vehicle competition conducted by the Northwest Automotive Press Association. That was too bad, because after a week of testing the new PRO-4X version, I think it would have stacked up well against the most popular comparably equipped midsize truck that was there, the Toyota Tacoma.
In fact, because the Tacoma has not been updated for so many years, I think the Frontier would have edged it out on the road course thanks to a more refined suspension. And I'm sure it would have also easily mastered even the most serious off-road course at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington. That's my opinion, even though the Nissan's off-road version is not as ruggedly styled as the equivelent Toyota, which includes a fake hood scoop covered with a big black map decal of … Tacoma.
It's not like the Frontier hasn't been restyled. But the result — at least with the PRO-4X version — is more restrained than the Tacoma or last generation Frontier. The bulbous fenders have been replaced with a blockier design, more like the earlier "Hardbody" models from 1991 to 1997. The exterior is now much closer to the recent wave of midsize trucks, including the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon and Ford Ranger.
The 2022 Frontier is available as a two-door King Cab or four-door Crew Cab with a standard five-foot bed and optional six-foot bed. Base models are rear-wheel-drive but four-wheel-drive is available. The standard engine is a 3.8-liter V6 that produces a class best 310 horsepower mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The interior has also been completed restyled and is now as contemporary as all competitors, including higher quality materials and nine-inch touchscreen display. Practically all advanced automotive technologies are available, including standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Nissan Safety Shield 360 system featuring Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking is available on all models.
Because it had not been substantially redesigned since 2004, Nissan had a lot of work to do to make the new Frontier competitive against such newer midsize pickups as the Colorado, Canyon and Ranger. After a week of test driving, I can say the company has completely succeeded. The new model feels both rugged and refined.
My PRO-4X version made quick work of the impromptu off-road course of the deeply rutted paths on steep hills that pass for streets in my part of town. It was also equipped with forward-facing cameras that come on when switched into 4LO for tight turns and descents. At the same time, the suspension was supple enough the it did not punish me during day-to-day driving over the broken pavement on the better ones.
As a work truck, the new Frontier can tow the same 6,720 pounds as the previous generation when properly equipped. The maximum payload has increased by 160 pounds from 1,450 to 1,610 pounds, however.
The Frontier has also been a good value and the 2022 model still starts at less than $30,000, keeping it very competitive in the midsize truck market. My well-equipped PRO-4X version was a heftier $44,315, but that is not out of line with the off-road equipped four-door models offered by the other manufacturers. If you're in the market for any level of midsize truck, the 2022 Nissan Frontier should be at the top of your shopping list.
2022 Nissan Frontier
Base price: $29,015 (Base)
Price as tested: $44,315 (PRO-4X)
Type: Midsize pickup
Engine: 3.8-liter V6 (310 hp, 281 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 22/24 (2WD) or 19/20(4WD)
Overall length: 210.2 to 224.1 inches
Curb weight: 4350 to 4800 pounds
Final assembly: Canton, Mississippi
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