2016 Nissan Frontier | CarGurus Test Drive Review
88 Comments


The compact midsize truck segment had been largely ignored of late, after experiencing a bit of a heyday in the 90s. But both Toyota and GM have redesigned their offerings, putting forth fresh versions of the Tacoma, the Colorado, and the Canyon—leaving the Nissan Frontier languishing on a 12-year-old platform. Hi, I’m Mike Perkins from CarGurus, and this is the 2016 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X— a midsize truck that’ll remind you what driving a truck used to feel like. What’s really hard to swallow is that the Frontier has been redesigned in other markets, it’s just not being sold here. This one’s still based on the old F-Alpha platform—the same as they used in the Xterra, the Pathfinder, and even the Infiniti QX56. But the Pathfinder went to the D platform in 2012, and the Infiniti QX56— they went and dropped it back in 2010. 12 years is just a very long time in the automobile world. To be honest, the Frontier just feels every bit of it. But it’s not just the platform. The engine, the transmission, the steering, the interior, the materials, the noise—it all just feels old. Take the engine: this is a 4-liter V6. It’s really just a stroked version of the 3.5-liter V6 that was in the 2001 Pathfinder. It’s just as old as the platform and it feels it, too— despite having modern features like variable valve timing and intake, direct injection, and hollow camshafts. It’s torquey down low but that’s mostly due to the 5-speed automatic’s gearing, as the 281 pound-feet of torque don’t arrive until 4000 rpm, and you’ll have to wait around until 5600 rpm for the 261 horses to show up. Compare that to the Tacoma, which has the 3.5-liter V6 delivering more horsepower and nearly as much torque, albeit at even higher rpms, and the difference comes down to economy. With the Tacoma’s 6-speed transmission, you can expect 18 city miles per gallon and 23 highway. Here, it’s just 15 and 21. Hell, the Challenger Scat Pack, with nearly 500 horsepower in torque, even managed 25 miles per gallon on the highway and could match the Frontier’s city rating—if you don’t mind comparing apexes to overdrives. Now the Colorado and the Canyon—they do even better, beating the Tacoma and the Frontier on power and economy. Plus, there’s a diesel option for them this year. But where the Frontier wins is price. While this one starts at $18,000, to get into a Colorado you’re talking about around $20,000, and a Tacoma, nearly $24,000. Now here in the PRO-4X trim with the Luxury package— which gets you these heated power leather seats, the heated power mirrors, the power moonroof, and the roof rack—you’re talking around $37,000. And a similarly equipped Tacoma is going to be about $40,000, so you’re definitely saving some money for your sacrifice. However, things like the tie-down cleats in the back, the spray-in bedliner, and the bed extender—those are all standard here, whereas they’re options you’re going to have to pay for elsewhere. What it comes down to is whether or not you’re willing to live with the sacrifice. Now a lot of people would argue that a pickup truck doesn’t need to have the latest and greatest when it comes to styling—and for the most part, I’d agree. But all these hard plastics—they just, they begin to wear after a little while. So does the heavy steering and the thirsty engine, but my biggest complaint by far is these seats. These’re the most uncomfortable seats I’ve tested—truck or otherwise—and I’m not even really sure why they have to be this way. They’re hard and they’re short and they don’t have anywhere near enough articulation. Why can’t this go back any further? There’s plenty of room back there. And when I’m sitting here in the driver’s seat, I feel like I’m in an an old British sports car with the steering wheel nearly in my lap. And if I sit up straight, my head’s nearly out of the moonroof. Now I know I’m tall at 6’4″, but this is the only car I’ve tested where I’ve had this issue—including subcompacts like the Scion iM. But let’s say none of this bothers you—there’s still a lot to like here. I mean, just because this is a generation or two or three old, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. After all, the last generation’s batch of trucks are still quite good. And this PRO-4X trim is a serious off-road contender. Performance 4×4 suspension, a locking rear diff, skid plates, and off-road tires— although those are very noisy on the road and don’t do much to help with the heavy steering or the braking distance, which is pretty poor at 134 feet. It’s the same story with this 5.8-inch touchscreen with the navigation and the Nissan Connect—it’s just old. I mean, everything about it just feels a few steps behind the competition, and that’s fast becoming unacceptable in a world where people expect their cars to be a further extension of their digital world. So what does this mean? Well, if the latest in technology and styling isn’t a high priority for you, it means that the Frontier is a great way to get a very capable truck for less money than the competition. But before you make that decision, I urge you to go out and drive the Tacoma or the Colorado or the Canyon and see just how much of an improvement they are. For some, it is going to be a world of difference and worth that extra cash at the outset. But a lot of you, I think, will be very happy with the Frontier. In fact, I suspect a lot of you already are. Tell me, have you driven all three? What did you think? Hey, thanks for watching. Is the Frontier your favorite truck? Just let me know why in the comments. Otherwise, for more great car reviews, just subscribe to the channel. And to read my full review of the 2016 Nissan Frontier, just click the link in the description.

88 thoughts on “2016 Nissan Frontier | CarGurus Test Drive Review

  1. Hey Mike, have you or any other auto journalist heard of a possible redesign of the Frontier? I'm very curious of what direction Nissan is going to take with the next model.

  2. Hey Mike, have you or any other auto journalist heard of a possible redesign of the Frontier? I'm very curious of what direction Nissan is going to take with the next model.

  3. Great review! Nissan really needs to redesign that vehicle. It is getting way too long in the tooth. This truck is for the person that wants a simple truck and doesn't fully care about having the latest technology. This truck would probably be very reliable considering it doesn't have that much complicated technology. Also, it has been around for so long so buying replacement parts would probably be cheaper than the competition as well. Keep up the great work!

  4. how about a review of the base model Frontier? i am considering buying it because it is so cheap (pluss it is refreshing to see manual transmissions in a truck these days)

  5. Frontier is the most honest truck for the money
    strait from the Titan boxed frame full length for full strength.
    No new truck is any better off road nor are they more reliable.

  6. i just bought i used 2013 frontier pro 4x….i love it! Drives like a truck, not a car/truck or a suv. I test drove a tacoma and while it was nice i gotta say i liked how the frontier felt.

  7. A frontier is a cheaper truck to off road in and its awesome at that task. This fuckstick didn't even take the pro 4x off the road!!! I might be a little bias but this is a LAME REVIEW.

  8. The 4×4 Frontier is a beast. It's quieter on the inside than a 2002-2009 4runner and that says something. In a desert runner edition the truck is very capable but in pro-4x its hard to beat. With the price as a bench mark its the best. The engine is loud when pushed but that's fine by me, its a truck. I'd rather take a new Frontier off-road than a Chevy. The only complaint I have is that cheezy roof rack. This reviewer looks tall. So I'd say he'd have a bad seating position in a Tacoma too.

  9. This guy spent over half the video talking about other vehicles. I'll just say it. This dude blows dogs for quarters. I'm here to hear about this truck not other cars and trucks. Stick to the topic at hand….

  10. I own a 2012 Pro4X and absolutely love it! Its been flawless and seems to be extremely well built. I don't care that its old, hell, that's what I love about it! In fact, I'm considering buying another one before they change the body style and screw it all up.

  11. I have a 2014 Frontier and I love it. I have a Tundra but I find myself driving my Frontier day to day. It just feels more like a truck that a man should drive than the competition. You can find one for a great price. it's also just fun to drive.

  12. good video. I'm thinking between a tacoma or a frontier pro4x. I'm leaning towards the frontier because of the lower price. I know nissan makes reliable trucks. test driving one will provide me with confirmation.

  13. I just bought one and I had a budget. Of the 5 reasonably sized trucks available, Nissan was the only truck that I could price under $30K and give me the features I determined mandatory. So it was either a new Nissan or a used truck so either way it was older technology.

  14. Own a 2014 VW TDI Golf here in Canada that is to be bought back over the coming months. Pretty much set on replacing it with a 2017 King Cab Pro 4X w/ 6spd Manual gearbox. In our market at least it's about $10,000 less than a AccessCab TRD Off-road Tacoma 6spd Manual. Also Nissan will finance for 1.9% where Toyota wants 5.9%. Considering both are equally capable off-road, I'll go Frontier no question. Plus, newer vehicles all suffer from an over abundance of tech that detracts from the actual joy of driving. That's my 2 cents. Long live the last gen mid size trucks.

  15. Not bad. Thanks for the FREE review! Always appreciate free reviews. I'm heavily considering the Frontier having recently sold my 2012 Dodge Ram Hemi Express, that I regret selling. The Ram was great but I'm seeking the midsize truck market now. Honestly, not having come from "high tech" stuff, the Frontier seems perfect for me based on price and reliability…similar to what you mentioned in your video. The Chevy and Tacoma cost a bit more. Although price isn't my main concern, it certainly plays a role when looking for a "truck" and not a "cartruck". I don't wish for the high frills of a SUV or the like. Looking for a truck. Thanks again for posting the review.

  16. Great review.. I have a 2016 TRD Tacoma and gotta say the drivetrain in it is subpar to say the least.. The tranny likes to hunt gears constantly and the new 3.5 just has no power to it.. Fixing to either go  to a Pro 4X or a 4runner..

  17. I happen to like the old school exterior styling of the Frontier. Do not like the Tacoma looks at all. When looking for a truck I am not looking for luxury, if I was I'd look at a F-150 King Ranch. Is the Frontier good off road and utilitarian? It is and that's why I have decided on it as opposed to other midsize trucks. It is also reliable and simple. A plus in my book. Less electronics = less problems. The price helps as well. My two cents.

  18. I want my truck to be a truck, not a wannabe spaceship like the most recent entries from the competitors in this class. Nissan Frontier; last of a dying but wonderful breed of real, honest trucks.

  19. I chose the frontier because of it's size, I bought a king cab SV 4×2.  The other manufacturer trucks won't fit in my garage.  They are also getting more and more car like.  Their bed heights are higher off the ground.  The bed depth is higher.  I carry motorcycles in mine.  Plus, the other trucks when equally equipped are thousands more.

  20. dude you are 6'4" tall. you need a full size truck if you are that big. it's just the reality of life. i'm 5'9" and i can't even reach into the bed of full sized trucks since they are so high off the ground. this frontier is the perfect size for me. for people 6' or less the frontier is perfect. if you are taller you should look at the full sized truck market.

  21. Guy, your review sucks. You do know you're driving a truck, right? What about some examples of hauling cargo or towing trailers. That, not mall-crawling to show off styling, is what many of us buy a truck for. For example, my mutts will fit just fine in that back seat when we head out into the backwoods for some hunting or fishing.

  22. I tested a 2013 Pro4X and finally bought a brand new 2016 SV 4×4 long bed and this was after test driving the Colorado, Canyon and Tacoma. We get a lot of snow and my Frontier holds its ground like a tank. I love every bit of the old school feel, look and handling.

  23. For the price and what I intend to do with my Nissan Frontier 2016 SV 4wd it's perfect. I was able to purchase my truck for under 28K compared to the Tacoma or the Ridgeline where the price was way over my price range. Would love to have either but I couldn't imagine my monthly payment would have been. One draw back for me is how thirsty this truck is, I am getting around 16mpg city and around 22 hwy. but I knew that coming in. Overall I am very happy with my purchase even if the interior is dated.

  24. I could live will all that "old feeling" stuff; it's a truck, after all. But only if it cost significantly less than the competition, and it doesn't. It's actually more expensive with 4wd and comparable equipment than the Tacoma and Colorado. With the most basic configurations possible, with only 4WD as an upgrade, I was able to get a Tacoma with an MSRP of $25,090. Same thing with the Frontier = $28,570. The Nissan had a V6 to the Toyota's four, but I really didn't care about that, as I won't be doing any heavy hauling or towing, and would have chosen a four for the Nissan if available.

  25. I like the looks and I don't mind the plastic parts because they are easy to clean! I just traded in a 2016 Chevy Colorado in to get a new 2017 Frontier Pro4x and I love it! I had the Chevy Colorado for a year and did not like the stitching in the seats digging into my left thigh and had some problems with the gps freezing up while on a trip from Wisconsin to New York and the electronic steering went out once. The air conditioning would also come on from time to time when I it was not selected. Also no heated rear mirrors on the Colorado, which the frontier has, which is nice with a cap on the back in snowy conditions.

    The round selector dial on the Colorado for 2x, 4xhi and 4xlo was right next to my left knee which I accidentally bumped twice and was driving in 4 wheel drive not knowing it, as there is no 4 wheel drive indicator in the dash panel, the Frontier's switch in nicely placed on the right side away from the knees and also has a 4 wheel drive indicator in the dash panel.

    The Colorado got 19-20 miles to the gallon while the Frontier gets about 17–18 miles to the gallon so far. The Frontier has much better get up and go when I step on the gas when passing or entering a highway. The Colorado had an 8 inch info screen while the Frontier is just less than 6” in size which is ok for me. The 2017 Frontier was 2 thousand dollars cheaper that the 2016 Chevy Colorado. The Frontier also has a moon roof and backup sensors.

  26. Good overall review. I own a 17 Pro-4x Frontier and at 6'5" I would like the driver seat to go back a little further also. I also felt the same way in the Tacoma. I personally think the Frontier is the better buy, that's why I purchased it……

  27. I just bought a 2016 Desert Runner with 11,000 miles and I love it. This guy is full of crap in this review. He is so stuck on the truck not being redesigned that he can't see the good things about it. The truck has great power it's quiet and good looking. Yes there are nicer trucks out there but you will pay much more for them. The Frontier is a lot of truck for the money. So if you want a very nice and capable truck at a reasonable price I highly recommend the Frontier. If you want the latest and greatest then pay $35,000 or so and get a fancy new Tacoma or Colorado. I'll keep that extra $14,000 that I saved and use it on hunting and fishing trips in my old school Frontier.

  28. I did drive the competition like you said. Thats why I bought the frontier. The frontier was clearly the winner. The price is right also.

  29. It should be an incredibly reliable truck, right? That is the one major advantage of such an aged platform. It is going on thirteen years. All kinks should be worked out of it, right?

  30. The Frontier is a great truck it hauls great it is awesome off road and in snow. It gets all of my needs done and it is less money from Toyota it’s more comfortable to. It been a great ride for me

  31. I’ve owned so many nissans in the past and three Datsun and never had any issues. My favorite was the 2013 Titan crew cab, unfortunately I had to sell it. So now I have a 2011 Nissan Frontier crew cab and I love it. Never any issues and it looks good.

  32. I drove the Taco and Frontier.  The Taco felt like I was sitting on the floor.  The position wasn't comfortable for my 6"1" frame.  I didn't drive the Canyon as I am not a GM Fan.  It seemed like Toyota cut corners, like putting drum brakes on their rear axels.  Also, even though the Frontier is very dated, it has more torque than the Tacoma.  The Nissan felt more athletic to me.  I think this review was accurate though stating the Nissan is dated, thus a good bargain.  I ended up buying the Frontier.

  33. Hey fuck stick, the frontier kicks the tacoma’s ass with a few simple features that contradict ur opinion.
    1. Frontier has heated seats and tacoma dont no matter the trim level.
    2. Tacoma doesn’t have height adjust so ur 6’4” ass would be begging to be in the frontier and you would remember to use it.
    3. Tacoma has the worst rear seats in a mid size pickup and ur clearly not meant to ride in a back seat
    4. The frontier cost less then an overpriced taco

  34. You are so wrong on this truck. I just rented one last week for 3 days, and loved it. It was quiet on the interstate ar 75 mph, felt so solid and everything was simple to use. Sure it has hard plastics (which are easy to clean), and has a small touchscreen. But it was perfect for my needs. Strong engine, smooth transmission, comfortable seats.

  35. Here's why I like my 2014 Nissan Frontier: First, it has gobs of power. Second, it drives very well on the road. Third, I took it on the Buck Rock Jeep trail with stock lift and stock suspension and it cruised it so well that the people in the other (very non stock) truck that I was following kept commenting about how well it did. Yes, I have some complaints about the Nissan, but none of them are big enough to keep me out of it.

  36. I agree, this is the new – older truck you can buy, but is simply an excellent option. But this guy, i think he dont like this vehicle, all the review spend the time talking only bad things about the truck… Is old, it have the worst seats, the outdated image… bla bla bla… The truck is great.

  37. He is too tall for the truck which gave him a bad impression from the start. Hard to love a vehicle you cannot get comfortable in. I like the Nissan, it looks like a truck, it handles like a truck, it rides like a truck because IT IS A TRUCK!

  38. Not having a lot of electronic garbage is a huge plus when going off road. All this new tech fails and then your vehicle is SoL.

  39. Dude i am 6'-3" i have no issue getting in and out of my Trucks seat and I have a friend that is 6'4 265 and he sits in the back no complaint so …………. i'll just leave it right there

  40. i bought a 2016 frontier in spring of 2018. king cab. they say its a mid size truck, like my 2001 Dakota. but feels bigger. the V6 engine has all the power youll need.

  41. I'm in the market for a slightly used midsize truck. That's why I checked out reviews for 2016. I drove a new Frontier and Tacoma the other day. I actually liked the Frontier better. It felt smoother and less cramped that the Tacoma. I'm 5'10" and didn't notice either truck having headroom space issues but the Tacoma felt a little less roomy in the cabin overall. Here is the real kicker, a used Frontier is FAR less than a comparable used Tacoma! I mean like $5-10k less! Used Tacomas are stupid expensive. I get it, it's a Toyota, they run forever, blah blah blah. For $15k I can get a 3-4 year old Frontier with under 50k miles. 10 year old Tacomas with 100k are still more than that!!! There is no way a Tacoma is twice as good as a Frontier. Just no way. If I were buying new, Tacoma is the way to go because the used market is silly and I can sell it after its all used up for a crazy price but anyone buying a used Tacoma is getting hosed if they pay going rates.

  42. Test driving Tacoma, Chevy and the Nissan Frontier Pro 4X they all are great Trucks hands down.

    Just couldn’t justify the extra 7 to 10K plus minus for the Toyota or the Chevy ended up buying the 2017 Nissan Pro 4X and do not regret it at all.

  43. I was shopping for trucks a week ago. While I wasn't considering a frontier I bought one.After looking at the Tacoma I realized I didn't want to spend Tacoma money. I was negotiating a deal for a Colorado that I liked, when I stopped and looked at a Frontier on the way home. To end my story, I now own a Frontier. Everything you mentioned as a negative fit me perfect. And for a lot less money.

  44. I just bought one a 2018 lots of torque if you thingk the tacoma 3.5 litre beats you're dead wrong dude i looked into a tacoma before i bought the frontier and its power sucks compared to the 4.0 litre frontier

  45. not only that they only offer that puniy pathtic 5 5 inch bed hell with that that is absolutley no practical value i have mine with the 6 foot 1 in bed in the frontier and the crew cab with the 4.0 litre v6 great midsize pick up

  46. Cool, I will let you know what I think, I am buying a used 2016 this week, I expect an old school trucke with decent power, just test drove a 2016, 4 cyl Toyota Tacoma, totally underwhelmed, 4 cyl for a truck, sorry so good.

  47. I bought a lightly used Frontier after driving all the trucks in the segment. The truck I purchased was one I found on Car Gurus. Why didn't your review focus on this model truck? Take it off-road? Show the acceleration? Show the features? Try the towing? It's not a Tacoma, but it doesn't cost as much and in many ways it's more of a truck.

  48. It is a truck. Get over it. I need one to haul stuff and I listen to AM radio news talk. I have a flip phone and I wear jeans and clunky boots to work every day so I just need something that works and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

  49. Drove a Tacoma and Frontier. Frontier had more interior space, more leg room, better acceleration, and a smooth ride. Tacoma was nice to drive, but I felt cramped, the acceleration in my opinion was lacking, and I don't like how the hood rises in the view of the windshield. I also felt more powerful and safe in the Frontier. Definitely would buy the Frontier over the Tacoma

  50. Frontier is best truck value by far.
    Carguru bad mouths it because they are a used car sales company and profits are higher on other makes.
    You can't trust this source, they are only about manipulating you for maximum profit.

  51. The interior needs an update. But the 4Runner has been using the same engine and transmission combo for the same time period and people are ok with it because we know it is bulletproof. Same thing with the Frontier. It’s good to know your mechanic trips will be few and far between

  52. Where's his purse. Frontier is a damn good truck. Luxury? Lol It's a fucking truck guy. Need something else if you want to text and drive.

  53. I want to know its capabilities, all your talking about is negativity that we all already know , do you even know about trucks ?

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