2017 Nissan Frontier

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$18,390–$36,800 MSRP range
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2017 Nissan Frontier. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Affordability
  • Exterior size
  • Engine responsiveness
  • Forward visibility
  • Off-road capability
  • Aggressive off-road tires (Pro-4X)

The Bad

  • Small, basic interior
  • Mushy brake feel
  • Wind, road noise
  • Turning circle
  • Unrefined ride quality
2017 Nissan Frontier exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2017 Nissan Frontier

  • Four-cylinder or V-6 power
  • Extended or crew cab
  • No regular cab
  • Off-road Pro-4X
  • Rear- or four-wheel drive
  • Locking rear differential (Pro-4X)

2017 Nissan Frontier Road Test

Joe Bruzek
The Verdict:

The off-road Pro-4X version of the Nissan Frontier is more suited for slopping around in the mud or exploring trails than for daily use.

Versus The Competition:

The Frontier is many years outdated, lacking the refinement, features and versatility of other mid-size trucks, but it is inexpensive.

The new Nissan Frontier is the last small, affordable pickup truck. Its starting price of just $19,365 (including destination) is the equivalent of an entry-level Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla but with rugged utility and a bed. It's a classic case of "you get what you pay for," however, with a dated, small interior lacking the refinement, features and quality found in the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma (that is, all the other mid-size trucks).

That may sound damning, but the Pro-4X off-road variant I drove is actually a lovable little truck. The Pro-4X is a classic off-road package with meaty tires, off-road shock absorbers, skid plates, a two-speed transfer case and locking rear differential. It's a blast to drive while bombing around a recreational off-road park like Bundy Hill Offroad in Michigan, where I did the bulk of my off-roading as a judge for our mid-size truck comparison.

Off-Roading in the Pro-4X

The Nissan Frontier Pro-4X doesn't have the electronic gadgetry of the Tacoma's Crawl Control or the super-smart optional all-wheel drive of the Ridgeline, but when the objective is to have fun at an off-road park, that technology takes the fun out of doing it yourself. (If you're stuck on the side of a cliff somewhere, on the other hand, then you should probably take all the electronic assistance you can get.) The Pro-4X's classic way of off-roading relies on communicative steering and simply hav...

The new Nissan Frontier is the last small, affordable pickup truck. Its starting price of just $19,365 (including destination) is the equivalent of an entry-level Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla but with rugged utility and a bed. It's a classic case of "you get what you pay for," however, with a dated, small interior lacking the refinement, features and quality found in the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma (that is, all the other mid-size trucks).

That may sound damning, but the Pro-4X off-road variant I drove is actually a lovable little truck. The Pro-4X is a classic off-road package with meaty tires, off-road shock absorbers, skid plates, a two-speed transfer case and locking rear differential. It's a blast to drive while bombing around a recreational off-road park like Bundy Hill Offroad in Michigan, where I did the bulk of my off-roading as a judge for our mid-size truck comparison.

Off-Roading in the Pro-4X

The Nissan Frontier Pro-4X doesn't have the electronic gadgetry of the Tacoma's Crawl Control or the super-smart optional all-wheel drive of the Ridgeline, but when the objective is to have fun at an off-road park, that technology takes the fun out of doing it yourself. (If you're stuck on the side of a cliff somewhere, on the other hand, then you should probably take all the electronic assistance you can get.) The Pro-4X's classic way of off-roading relies on communicative steering and simply having a ton of tire grip to dig out of tricky situations. When climbing a steep, sandy hill, the front tires communicate placement very well and make it easy to find the groove with the most grip. The Pro-4X's tires are a big part of the truck's proficiency, sized 265/75/16 with tall sidewalls and knobby tread. Being a smaller truck, the Frontier is also more capable around tight trails.

The Pro-4X is well-protected against off-road punctures with skid plates under the fuel tank, oil pan and transfer case. There's an electronic rear differential for when things get dicey that locks so the rear wheels spin at the same speed; as a result, even if one is spinning in mud or is up in the air, the other tire with traction gets equal pounds-feet torque so it can keep pushing forward.    

As a Daily Driver

With the Pro-4X treatment, the Nissan Frontier is a difficult truck to live with on paved roads. The ride is bouncy, and wind and road noise are always there. At highway speeds, the knobby tires howl while wind whistles past the cabin; 60 mph in a Frontier feels like 90 mph in any other mid-size truck. The Colorado and Canyon, even in off-road select trims, better isolate drivers from outside noises, though they also have less aggressive tires. The Honda Ridgeline has a carlike architecture, so it's more like driving a family SUV than a truck — which could be a plus or a minus depending on what you want out of a truck. The Frontier also has a huge turning circle, which means a three-point turn is more like a four- or five-point. 

Getting up to speed is tedious for occupants hearing the coarse, grainy-sounding engine. Accelerator responsiveness is good, however, even with a dated five-speed automatic transmission versus competitors' six- and eight-speeds (the Frontier has an option for a six-speed manual).There's decent engine grunt from a stop.

Cabin quality is awful, with hard plastics throughout, cheap painted silver accents and soft, orange backlighting that looks 20 years old. The navigation and touchscreen technology are also dated: The 5.5-inch screen on my iPhone 7 Plus is almost as big as the Frontier's optional 5.8-inch navigation touchscreen; this touchscreen is standard on the Pro-4X. That pales in comparison with the Chevrolet and GMC, in which Apple CarPlay or Android Auto uses your phone's native navigation to display maps and routes on an 8-inch touchscreen, so there's no need to pay for an optional navigation system if you have a smartphone and an active data plan.   

Cabin comfort is also lacking compared with the other trucks' larger interiors. The Nissan Frontier is compact in size and the cabin is narrower than others, which offer legitimately mid-size interiors in crew-cab Canyons, Colorados or Tacomas; the Ridgeline is only a four-door, and roomier, too. At a slender 6 feet tall, I wasn't comfortable in the Frontier's backseat because of its flat cushioning and elevated knee position. My knees were touching the front seatback where I had positioned it to drive. 

Towing and Cargo

The Nissan Frontier crew cab with rear-wheel drive, SL trim level and V-6 engine can tow a maximum of 6,710 pounds. A Colorado with a V-6 is rated to tow 7,000 pounds in any cab or drive configuration, and 7,700 pounds with an optional diesel four-cylinder, while the Tacoma V-6 rear-wheel-drive extended cab is rated at a maximum 6,800 pounds and the Ridgeline is a maximum 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive.



The Frontier's 5-foot cargo box with crew cab is roughly the same size as competing trucks, and a 6-foot-long box is optional (though not on Pro-4X trim levels, and there is a king cab option available with rear-hinged half doors).

Inside the cabin, the optional Rockford Fosgate stereo replaces storage containers underneath the backseat with a subwoofer, which isn't ideal. It's not a great stereo, so I'd opt out of the stereo to regain that underfloor storage.

Safety

The Nissan Frontier has the lowest crashworthiness ratings of mid-size pickups tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. At the top of the 2018 list is the Honda Ridgeline, followed by the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado (crew cab only) with equal ratings. In federal crash tests, the Frontier lags other trucks in its front crashworthiness, though it earns similar overall ratings. Not offered is a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking like the Ridgeline, which is the only truck in the class to offer the feature.  

In the Market

Though the Nissan Frontier's starting price is $1,500 less than a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ($19,365 versus $20,940 with destination charges), in higher select trims there's less pricing disparity. My test truck, a Pro-4X with optional equipment, totaled $37,000. A similar off-road package on the Colorado, the Z71 with a V-6 and four-wheel drive, starts at $36,775  for a significantly more refined and well-rounded truck, though perhaps with fewer off-road chops from the factory; a good pair of tires could help it play catchup, or there's the ultimate off-road mid-sizer, the $41,000 ZR2.   

Both the Pro-4X and Z71 give you crew cabs and short boxes, two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, off-road shocks, hill descent control, heated front seats and a backup camera. Where the Nissan Frontier's value comes back swinging is that it also includes a moonroof (which isn't an option on any Colorado), dual climate control instead of single, leather interior versus cloth and a roof rack. Does that make the Frontier worth the money? Well, that depends how often you'll be driving off-road versus on.  

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.


Latest 2017 Frontier Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

2017 Nissan Frontier SV 4.0L engine

by chevimp58 from lakeland, fl on June 19, 2018

2017 Nissan Frontier SV 4.0L engine. Good performance--oversized tires will be expensive when replaced. --industry trend is oversized tires with oversized rims. do not like a tire for a pickup that is ... Read full review

(5.0)

Great vehicle!

by Andy F from Baldwinsville, NY on June 14, 2018

I just bought my second preowned Frontier. I?ve owed Fords and Chevy trucks. Now I buy Nissan. Best ride. Best comfort. Best reliability. Best mid-sized truck IMHO! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Nissan Frontier currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Nissan

Program Benefits

24 Hour Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing Assistance, Trip Interruption Benefits, 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio on properly equipped vehicles, Complimentary CARFAX® Vehicle History Report™ and 3-Year CARFAX® Buy Back Guarantee

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from original in-service date; $50 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 167 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Frontier received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker