After so many neutral models, even neurasthenic, which parade in these pages, one began to fear that the industry would be definitively won over by monotony. Fortunately, there is the Frontier, third in the name. A van which, under the varnish, does not hesitate to display its peculiarities, its roughness. And even its flaws.
What if perfection is boring? What if the automobile were leveled from the top, with vehicles so flawless that they end up losing all flavor?
This is the point of view expressed by the American philosopher and essayist Mattew Crawford in his latest book, Why Do We Drive.
“Modern vehicles very boring to drive. Everything is done to isolate us from the road ”.
He is absolutely right, but luckily there are exceptions.
Not boring at all
The Frontier is one of them. Pleasant and exciting to get behind the wheel? No, but this van takes care of bringing us back to the imperfect era, it is true, when the vigilance and sense of anticipation of the motorist were put to good use.
Of course, the Frontier relies on “essential” driving aids such as blind spot sensors and all of the elements that make up the “360 shield” from Nissan. Never mind, the Frontier remains tough. The firmness of its direction, in the sequences at low and medium speed, makes sure to remind us.
Just like its towing capacity, enhanced, which allows it to break away from young shoots (Hyundai Santa Cruz, Ford Maverick) and to compete more adequately with its natural competitors (see screen 4).
We expected no less from a vehicle whose last overhaul dates back more than 15 years … The new Frontier is doing better than its predecessor (the opposite would have been distressing), but rolls a little against the flow of traffic.
Better than the previous one? Sure
Take its engine, for example. With a displacement of 3.8 L, it has undergone a complete reengineering, but is still deprived of the most basic automatic shut-off device when stationary. Yet more than 90% of its components bear the seal of novelty.
That it’s the most powerful in its class doesn’t mean anything. In the segment where the Frontier is evolving, torque is everything. To be convinced, just consult the technical sheet of the Ford Ranger. This, along with a supercharged four-cylinder, produces more torque (310 lb-ft) and allows for a higher towing load. And, just as important, it swallows almost 2 L / 100 km less than the Nissan.
The Nissan Frontier 2022 at a glance
Available prices $ 39,998 to $ 49,498
Visible in dealerships: nowWE love
Modern presentation (style)
Real towing skills
We like less
Tight rear seats
Direction that requires muscle
Some features date back to another era
Authentic, but outdated
Therefore, and for these reasons, one could blame Nissan for lacking in daring. And the Japanese manufacturer could apologize for it by citing its recent financial troubles, the cost of the energy transition, and whatnot. Nissan prefers to argue that this V6 consumes less than before while remaining robust and reliable. Criteria that will certainly appeal to followers of this model.
As it stands, this 3.8 L V6 therefore offers a largely satisfactory performance to undermine the traction of the Frontier when its bucket is empty, or to stun the gearbox. It sometimes happens to this one of not knowing any more to which report (it has now nine, that is to say four more than before) to dedicate itself vis-a-vis the unevenness and the sinuosities which characterize our roads.
Adapted to the realities of the North American market – the previous generation derived more closely from the Nissan Navara marketed in other latitudes – the Frontier stands out from its predecessor for the quality of its soundproofing and its suspension elements.
These soften the irregularities of the roadway and limit the “snowshoeing” felt when the deformations pass. There are better (Honda Ridgeline), but worse (Toyota Tacoma).
Obey his vocation
The pleasure of driving is undoubtedly nonexistent in the real sense, but some consumers will love to bang their shoulders against their doors, to have their vertebrae tortured (just a little) as they bleed. Amateurs or curious will discover, after a few kilometers, the pleasure of authenticity.
Nissan is keen to make the buying process easier, and all Frontiers sold in the country feature a four-wheel drive mode combined with a transfer case. That said, the user still has the privilege of limiting the task of moving it to the rear wheels only. Note that the PRO-4X version exclusively benefits from an electronic locking differential, Bilstein shock absorbers specially calibrated for off-road driving and protective plates to preserve the vehicle’s vital organs.
Likewise, the Frontier coats its deck with a factory-sprayed bedliner. This includes in its upper side members a system of rails to securely rivet the contents of the skip which, at night, lights up if the corresponding option has been checked.
As for towing capacity, the Frontier is reassuringly stable, as we were able to see by securing a trailer in its back. The presence of a device which imperceptibly applies the brakes dissuades the Frontier from waltzing its rear axle and the load it is towing.
Under the varnish
At first glance, the Frontier does not lack panache. Outside and inside. On closer inspection, the varnish cracks. The steering column ostensibly refuses to stretch its neck. She agrees to fold it, however. The emergency brake is always activated with the foot and the cab (regular or extended) offers uncomfortable rear backrests for long rides.
Ah, there is also this collection of switches posted in the dark part of the dashboard which forces you to take your eyes off the road. It’s hard to suppress a smile at this series of forgotten details in an age when buttons, selectors and other switches scramble to find a place behind touch screens.
Even if these elements will make more than one wince, there is however some positive to remember. Starting with the simplicity and accessibility of the main controls and instrumentation. The quality of the seats (front) and the abundance of storage. The main thing, what! Leaving the Frontier, the superficiality of modern vehicles comes to mind.
Competition gives complexion
Nissan owes a lot to Sedona Blinson and Lyn Woodward of the Wild Grace team. Indeed, these were the first to showcase the new Frontier and the off-road accessories (suspension, wheels, exhaust, to name just these three) developed by Nismo. Indeed, this female crew took part in the Rallye des Rebelles, which takes place over a distance of 2,414 kilometers (1,500 miles) between Arizona and California. They finished in sixth place.
Origin of a legend
It is said that the arrival of tiny Japanese pickup trucks in the North American market is attributable to Japanese gardeners in California. The story is beautiful and contains an element of truth. At the end of the 1950s, where it was then called Datsun, Nissan imported its first pickup trucks, in this case the model 220. It was only 10 years before it was assigned a successor: the 420. This the latter was not only the first to offer a payload of half a ton, but also to offer an extended body and a multi-seat cab. Thus are born the legends.
Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Ford Escape, Infiniti QX60, Porsche Macan, Toyota 86, Volkswagen Tiguan and Toyota Corolla. If you own one of these vehicles or are expecting delivery, we would love to hear from you.
Nissan Frontier 2022 tech. Sheet
Engine: 3.8-liter DOHC naturally aspirated V6
Power: 310 horsepower at 6,400 rpm
Torque: 281 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm
Weight: 2135.5 kg (Crew Cab PRO-4X)
Payload (bucket): 635 kg (1400 lb)
Maximum towing capacity: 2,944 kg (6,490 lb)
Gearbox: 9-speed automatic
Drive mode: 4 x 4
Tires: 265 / 70R16; 265 / 65R17; 265 / 70R17
Tank capacity: 79.4 liters
Recommended gasoline: regular
Consumption: 12.1 L / 100 km
Wheelbase: 3550 mm (3200 mm)1
Length: 5692 mm (5338 mm)
Height: 1825 mm (1831 mm)
Width: 1853.5mm (1853.5mm), excluding exterior mirrors
1 The dimensions in brackets are those of the King Cab version.