2019 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab 4X4 Automatic V6 new car reviews

The 2019 Nissan Frontier soldiers on with little in the way of substantial changes. If you tick (or untick, we suppose) the right boxes, you can walk away from the dealership with a new truck for under $20,000. And when you compare that to other new vehicles in a similar price bracket, you’re not doing too badly. You get a truck with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out around 150 horsepower and a five-speed manual. And it’ll do everything you could want a truck to do—who could ask for more? Well, unless you’re a rental fleet, quite a few. 

Our tester was a PRO-4X Crew Cab 4X4 Automatic V6. In Nissan speak, this is the top-of-the-line model, which starts at $34,190. With the $2100 Premium package and floor mats, our tester came in at $37,440. 
So, what’s in the premium package? Leather seats for starters, with the driver getting eight-way power, and the passenger getting only four. The mirrors are also heated and powered, and the package finishes with a moonroof, roof rack and a rear center arm rest. 

As for the PRO-4X package Nissan says:

The PRO-4X comes equipped with Bilstein off-road high-pressure shock absorbers, skid plates on the fuel tank, oil pan and transfer case, an electronic rear differential locker 4-wheel limited-slip (ABLS) and unique machine-finished 16-inch aluminum-alloy off-road wheels with 265/75R16 All-Terrain tires.

Not only that, but with the PRO-4X package, Nissan will paint the grille and bumpers body color. You’ll also get keyless entry, cruise control, and power doors and windows. Yes, this is a 2019. 

Other staff views

Tom Suddard Tom Suddard
Director of Marketing & Digital Assets

Nissan's been selling the same Frontier for so long that I honestly thought our office's cleaning staff had come early when I saw this thing in the parking lot.

Then I noticed how shiny (and laden with off-road badging) it was, and realized it had to be a loaner. How's it drive? Exactly how it's driven for more than a decade, which is totally good enough for a small truck.

Nissan's small truck might be long in the tooth, but it still does the job fine, and at a starting price under $20k, it's a great deal, too.

Jordan Rimpela Jordan Rimpela
None

Two-thousand and five. That’s the first year we got this rendition of the Nissan Frontier here in the U.S. And much like other vehicles that have been through more than one presidency during the same production cycle, updates have been kept to a minimum.

It feels easier to fault the Frontier for this than it does something like the Ford E-Series because so much has changed between 2005 and now, at least from an automotive perspective. And if the top-of-the-line PRO-4X were about $10,000 cheaper than it actually is, then it would be easier yet to quell my desire to lambast the Frontier. Toyota has done similar with the Tacoma, but they’ve at least refreshed the looks a bit.

Next time you’re out and about and you spot a Frontier, I challenge you to correctly guess the year. The only thing that gave me a clue that ours was newer was the flashy PRO-4X graphics and wheels.

How’d it drive? Well, like a truck. And that was nice. I can easily see the need for a truck like this. Just not at nearly $40k.

J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

“Facts” say that the current-generation Nissan Frontier—known as the D23 chassis—has been around since the 2014 model year. But stepping in to our 2019 Frontier Pro 4X test truck, you could have been easily excused for thinking you were hopping into a restomodded 1997 model. The current Frontier is very similar to the original Frontier, and I say that with all affection for pickup trucks with an inherent utilitarian nature.

So, if I have any criticisms of the Frontier, it’s not inherently with the vehicle itself. I like trucks that are nice, but not “too” nice. No truck should be so nice that I even have to pause for even a moment to wonder if I should really fill the bed with mulch or hop into the cab after loading a dozen bags of Quikrete in the back. The whole modern trucks as “Cowboy Cadillacs” baffles me, and the Frontier makes for a nice balance between stark utility and modern features and comfort.

But—and this speaks to a much larger issue with pickup trucks in general today—any real love you develop for this old-school ride disappears when you see the $38,000+ price tag. That’s… insane. And the Frontier, as a “small” pickup, is still cheaper than modern half-ton pickups, which can easily set you back $50k or more before you even get into the fancier or more heavy-duty models. Sure, there tend to be a lot of incentives and deals available on trucks, but we still seem to be in the midst of an extended truck-pricing crisis with no end in sight.

So, yeah, the Frontier is fine. It’s a great $26,000 truck that just happens to cost $38,000.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Let us take a trip all the way back to January 18, 2006. It was a sunny winter day in beautiful Ormond Beach, Florida, and a transport truck rolled up to GRM HQ to deliver a blue Nissan Pathfinder.

At the time, the Pathfinder was fresh off a total redo for the 2005 model year. Ditto the Frontier, the pickup version.

That Pathfinder would server the magazine staff all the way through 2011–more than 100,000 miles along with countless adventures. It towed our cars and carried our gear. We called it Bruce. (Okay, I just made up that last bit.)

Even though the Pathfinder was treated with the same sympathy that you’d give to a shovel, the truck never let us down. It was anvil strong. Reliable. Touch. Unbreakable.

Today there’s a 2019 Frontier sitting in our parking lot. The historical tie-in to our Pathfinder? It’s basically the same truck. Call the current Frontier a throw-back machine to a day when cars (and trucks) came to life with the twist of a key vs. the punch of a fob. The steering wheel rim feels thin. Few people are going to congratulate you on getting a new truck.

Looking at the spec sheet for our PRO-4X model, though, and not everything is old-school. It comes with a five-speed automatic, eight-way power driver seat and a touchscreen display that includes navi. Bluetooth, USB connectivity and SiriusXM are included.

How’s it drive? Like a 15-year-old Nissan. It doesn’t offer overwhelming power, the steering feels slow, and the interior has a dated look to it. But on the other side, as our record shows, the truck will likely still be chugging along in a few decades. And while our loaded example topped $37,000, the Frontier line starts at $19,090.

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Comments
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NickD
NickD PowerDork
10/16/19 8:14 a.m.

Meet the new Frontier, same as the old Frontier

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
10/16/19 8:28 a.m.

Did you check the VIN to be sure it was a 2019 and not an unsold 2005 sitting somewhere on a Nissan dealers' lot?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/16/19 8:32 a.m.

I had a 2011 Frontier Pro-4X with the Premium package years ago.  It was a good truck, although I never towed with it. 

I remember one time there was a huge mud pit by our work, so I would constantly drive through it in 2WD to see if I would get stuck. Finally did, just put it in 4WD, locked the rear diff, and pulled itself right out as if it was pulling away from a stop sign in a neighborhood. 

 

bmw88rider
bmw88rider UltraDork
10/16/19 8:38 a.m.

We have the Xterra Pro-4X which is the same 4WD system and it's a really nice setup. I've had no concerns with taking it where we want to go. 

 

Z31, 

Funny thing is unless you dropped it to 4lo It didn't even lock the rear diff. IT only truely activates in 4lo

morello159
morello159 Reader
10/16/19 9:03 a.m.

I drove a 2008 one of these with the v6 and a manual transmission from SC to Alabama for some rock climbing. It was novel, but for such a small truck it got terrible gas mileage. 

triumph7
triumph7 Reader
10/16/19 9:15 a.m.

In reply to morello159 :

That's not only Nissan, I've been looking at "mid size" pickups and for highway mileage:

Nissan Frontier - 20 mpg

Toyota Tacoma - 21 mpg

Colorado/Canyon - 24 mpg

Ford Ranger - 24 to 26 mpg (4wd and 2wd)

I'm liking the Ranger in 2wd at around $28k but $8k will buy a lot of gas.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
10/16/19 9:20 a.m.

There is a sweet spot in the Frontier lineup somewhere between the base and the Pro4X. It delivers solid performance, a decent size, excellent reliability, and tons of utility at a decent price. THAT truck is what has kept the Frontier in the lineup for so long. Many people don't need a statement, they just need a truck.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
10/16/19 9:22 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve :

Probably the SV 4X4. 

Tyler H
Tyler H UberDork
10/16/19 9:32 a.m.

Yeah, it's ancient, but you can get one way under MSRP.  I like Frontiers quite a bit and would own one if I didn't need a full size truck for kid hauling duties. 

Back in 2011-- I had just had a 2nd windshield put in my MINI that year and the very next day it got bullseyed...fed up, I swung by the dealership right then.   I spec'd out my dream Frontier -- a Pro-4X  (maybe still called Nismo back then) crew cab, white with a black interior.   They wanted to sell it bad -- I threw out a lowball offer and told them I would trade the MINI.  They offered me several thousand over what I expected for the MINI and accepted my lowball offer and were even willing to do a dealer trade for the exact truck I wanted and have it there in 2 days.  

They called my bluff and I had the pen in hand and just couldn't quite make myself do it.  It amounted to about 12k off MSRP, but that was still a $27k unplanned purchase after tax.

In 5 years, when I'm down to 1 kid that needs hauling, I may retire the Tundra and do a used Frontier...or maybe they'll still be selling new ones?

 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
10/16/19 10:42 a.m.
Tyler H said:

In 5 years, when I'm down to 1 kid that needs hauling, I may retire the Tundra and do a used Frontier...or maybe they'll still be selling new ones?

 

It wouldn't surprise me if they were still churning these out in 2024 unchanged.

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
10/16/19 10:54 a.m.

I haven't looked, but wonder how this effects used values.  Why pay for a new one when I can find a well cared for 2009 that will be exactly the same thing?

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
10/16/19 11:28 a.m.

Neighbor has an insurance rental currently.  Nice truck but he hates the mpg.  Not sure of the spec.  I can see it from my window seat but it's raining out.  I've only ever driven an hourly rental once.  Seemed fine.  smiley

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
10/16/19 11:36 a.m.
Klayfish said:

I haven't looked, but wonder how this effects used values.  Why pay for a new one when I can find a well cared for 2009 that will be exactly the same thing?

Think how nice it would be to have all the parts availability on that 2009. All the JY parts and aftermarket /oem parts available. Heck 10 years later you can still get a low mileage used engine or trans. 

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
10/16/19 11:50 a.m.
Klayfish said:

I haven't looked, but wonder how this effects used values.  Why pay for a new one when I can find a well cared for 2009 that will be exactly the same thing?

I was actually looking at them a couple days ago, and '09s in Virginia were still $7-12k

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
10/16/19 12:26 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

Neighbor has an insurance rental currently.  Nice truck but he hates the mpg.  Not sure of the spec.  I can see it from my window seat but it's raining out.  I've only ever driven an hourly rental once.  Seemed fine.  smiley

I hated the one I rented when my 1st gen Colorado broke down. It wasn't Pro 4X. It was too big, was clunky inside, sat up too high and drank gas. Too much chrome as well.

morello159
morello159 Reader
10/16/19 12:29 p.m.

In reply to triumph7 :

Same reasaon I ended up in an F150 instead of a mid-size. I was out the door for $33k in my 2wd 2.7tt-equipped F150 and I get 25-26mpg on the highway. Much more space inside, better tow capability, big ass 36gal gas tank. It's annoying to park in garages but that's really the only downside.

Dootz
Dootz Reader
10/16/19 5:07 p.m.

If I was in the market for a mid-size pickup, the Frontier would be my first pick out of them all:

  • Solid VQ40 with actual torque down low compared to competitors
  • 350Z CD009 transmission
  • Doesn't bloated up or extremely heavy, but still decently solid for an old truck
  • Crazy parts availability given long production life
  • Dependable - post-2011, there's been practically no fatal flaws that would kill anything on the truck (looking at you Tacoma with your low quality 2GR and 6-speed auto)
  • Doesn't pretend to be something it's not - I don't need a plethora of features. It's a truck, and it has the basic options that I would want

My goal would probably be the King cab 4x2 in SV trim and Value package. Seems like the 6-speed option has been discontinued on this trim with the V6?

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
10/16/19 9:16 p.m.

I had a 2018 Frontier as a rental recently and I liked it. V6 4x4, 4 door... not sure what trim it was exactly.

I thought it was pretty great as far as trucks go. Drove nicely, handled pretty good, decent power at 8k feet, was pretty comfy. The steering felt pretty vague on center... my only complaint.

Seemed like a lot of a Tacoma for a lot less of the price.

wrenchklutz
wrenchklutz New Reader
10/17/19 9:14 p.m.

Had an '08 for several years and it was a pretty decent truck.  At about 55K miles, I heard a squeaking coming from the engine bay and thought maybe the water pump was going.  Nope, they said the timing chain was bad and it would cost $2,100 to fix.  I found out that Nissan had known about the timing chain issue since about 2005, didn't fix it until 2010, and there were at least three class-action lawsuits against Nissan as a result.  After raising hell with the dealer and Nissan, I got it fixed for about half the original estimate, but it pissed me off and I sold it six months later.  No more Nissans in this house.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
10/18/19 10:18 a.m.

^Does every new engine design have to suffer from something like this? Seems like new engines get designed and for the first 1-2 years everything is OK. Then something catastrophic that they almost all do hits once people start getting to the 3 year/100K mark. Everyone's engine suffers the apocalypse by 125K and a class-action lawsuit hits. The car company has to go back and fix every single one of them that has less than 100K while losing millions of dollars in the process. Everyone who paid to have it fixed themselves in the first few years gets ultra angry. Everyone with over 100K on their engines when they blew finds out it won't get paid for since it didn't happen early enough loses their minds. Junkyards fill to the brim with the model. Then the car company redesigns the time-bomb part for the last two model years (in which only 3% of the sales of that generation occur), then goes and design an all-new engine again and the process starts anew. It's a wonder they design new engines at all. A slant six or 305 never did that crap!

Tyler H
Tyler H UberDork
10/18/19 10:25 a.m.
GCrites80s said:

 A slant six or 305 never did that crap!

That's because most of the cars they were attached to rarely made it to 100k miles before they were worn or rusted out?  That's also before the internet, when everyone could broadcast their pain far and wide.  If there's one thing that racing for a decade in Lemons has taught me, it's that everything breaks.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
10/18/19 10:45 a.m.

While that certainly is true in regards to endurance racing (who knew SBCs would suck at this?) and finding limits, when given the opportunity to go over 100K in a car that didn't rust to death the older engines rose to the occasion. They didn't have some $6 part deep in the middle of the engine shred thereby plugging all the oil holes and making it jump time at 60K miles while being used as a commuter car.

NoBrakesRacing
NoBrakesRacing Reader
10/18/19 3:59 p.m.

I wouldn't kick the old/ new frontier out of bed for eating crackers. 

It does everything I would it need it for, but I agree, would hope that it was at a lower price point. Considering their technology and investing has been paid for. 

NoBrakesRacing
NoBrakesRacing Reader
10/18/19 4:14 p.m.

$27k for a pro 4x is better.

Did a local dealer search. A couple more for $29k and $31 with leather and or dual zones a/c etc.

2wd start at $21k

Not buying anything soon. 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
10/18/19 6:13 p.m.

I'm convinced the basic model is the Datsun Roadster 2000.  

Two seater, body on frame, RWD, 4-cylinder, 5-speed tranny to a solid rear axle with leaf springs, 150hp or so....

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
10/18/19 7:04 p.m.

There's about 98 billion of these things on the road in Florida. I keep thinking I want one. They're cheap, they're ancient tech (read- easy to fix) and they're everywhere. 

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
10/18/19 7:23 p.m.

In reply to Mndsm :

You're not wrong, they're everywhere. 

TJL
TJL HalfDork
10/18/19 8:33 p.m.

I have a 2012 frontier pro-4x with the nice stuff packages and upgrades. Got it in 2015 i think with 30k miles. Got about 70k now. Been boringly reliable. I still enjoy driving it. 

Worst thing is the crummy gas mileage. Im at about 15.5 mpg currently per the carputer. 

I feel the infotainment/carputer in these is pathetic. The nice display and comp in the cheapo altimas i rent would be amazing. Instead its just get a little orange segment display. Has a early tpms setup so no live pressures or even knowing what tire you have a prob with. 

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