A decade ago the midsize truck segment was nearly dead. New competitors from General Motors and Ford reignited this once stagnant segment, but Nissan has been slow to adapt. The Nissan Frontier has been largely unchanged for 17 years now, but that all changes with an all-new 2022 Frontier.
After 17 years of little changes, it isn’t surprising that this new Frontier is a dramatic change from its predecessor. The all-new design is rugged and far more truck-like than today’s version. Frankly, Nissan is keeping with industry truck design trends with a beefy exterior. Though this beefy exterior has some great details, including vertical slats under the headlights and an off-center Nissan logo. The details of this exterior make it quite compelling.
There’s also a massive new grille, flanked with very unique interlocking headlights. The overall look creates a graphic that’s slightly menacing, but also in touch with 2020 modernism. The body design of the Frontier echos the modern flare, something also noted on the 2022 Pathfinder.
Nissan has clearly found its mojo when it comes to exterior design, but the same cannot be said for interior design.
A ‘Trendy’ Interior
If there’s one common thread in the midsize truck segment, it is so-so interiors. Only the Honda Ridgeline has an interior that is devoid of shame. The rest of the segment soldiers on with questionable interior materials and design. Sadly, it appears the 2022 Frontier is following the pack in this regard.
We noted a similar disappointment with the new Pathfinder, but even Nissan’s own press shots of this interior look bad. Nissan calls the new Frontier interior “utilitarian,” but the photo look like something circa-2008. It is a sea of black plastic with little in the way of trim or brightwork. There’s an antiquated LCD display by the HVAC controls, while the nine-inch touchscreen is small by 2022 standards. Aside from some colorful accents on the PRO-X and PRO-4X trim levels, there’s just little to get excited about here.
Nissan has added a new seven-inch Advanced Driver Assist Display in the gauge cluster. This screen is on-par with competitive offerings and adds some technical strength to the spec sheet. Collectively, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Goodies such as wireless phone charging and wireless Apple CarPlay are optional features.
Nissan’s range of active safety gear will be optional on the new Frontier. This includes 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.
A Similar Powertrain
Given the 2020 Frontier received an all-new engine, it makes sense the 2022 Froniter is carrying it forward. This means there’s a 3.8-liter V-6 with 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. This power output puts the Frontier near the top of the midsize segment. Said power will flow through a new nine-speed automatic transmission.
Frontier 4WD models feature a shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes operated by an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. Frontier 4WD models are available with a 4-wheel limited-slip system, which helps transfer power to the drive wheels with more grip on low traction surfaces. Hill Start Assist is standard on all models, and Hill Descent Control is standard on all 4WD models.
The PRO-4X model adds an electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and underbody skid plates for added off-road capabilities.
Nissan says the 2022 Frontier will go on sale later this summer. Expect pricing to be announced closer to launch.