What a Truck should be, a Truck.
August 17, 2018
2017 Nissan Frontier SV 4WD Crew Cab Review
For those looking at a midsize truck there are plenty of great options out in the market from the Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon, Toyota Tacoma (Taco), the upcoming 2019 Ford Ranger and the Honda Ridgeline platform.
As many of you readers already know the Frontier hasn’t seen a major refresh since 2004 and whiles that might be boring to many, it indicates a few things about this Nissan D series platform.
First, the pricing. Since most of the dies for the Frontier have been long paid for in the mid 2000’s, the Frontier is truly America’s Best Value in a truck regarding price. Second, it’s quite reliable, I mean beyond the normal complaints and small issues that any sort of vehicle might have, the Frontier in many ways is like the Taco, solid, reliable and overall good.
Now, the Frontier is not going to give you the ’wow’ factor like many of the competitor models will provide you, many professional car reviewers online will tell you that the truck is seriously outdated and for 2018 they’re right.
But honestly, the Frontier is doing something that most of the others are forgetting, simply being a truck.
In a world filled with car tech, as people flock to SUV’s rather than cars, the Frontier is a truck-truck. A truck is supposed to haul stuff, not ride like a Cadillac. If I wanted froo-froo bells and whistles, then get an SUV like the rest of America.
This SV trim level is a run of the mill level trim that comes with a few features, the model I purchased came with a tow package, 4-wheel drive, cargo lamp and bedliner. The overall body of the truck is pretty good, but its not an aggressive design like the GMC Canyon in my opinion. It’s not going to wow your friends when you drop into their driveway, but then again, a truck is supposed to be a truck, rough, rugged, feeling the road bumps and heavy. Yup, Frontier does just that.
This model is a 4-door crew cab and the doors are pretty solid, more so than the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Colorado I tested before buying it. The facia is right in line with that V motion look Nissan is trying to build across the model lines too.
The Q series 4.0 liter V6 powerplant is a pretty nice motor, it’s actually the same block at what’s in the 370Z and some of the Infiniti products they make and it’s a pretty solid motor. Making 261hp and 285pft, the engine in the Frontier is going to allow you to tow some decent RV’s, boats and trailers but nothing serious, that’s where a full sized truck comes into play. The transmission, while proven pretty solid over the years could really benefit from being a 7 or 8 speed in 2018, but still uses the 5 speed automatic. Now its not a bad tranny, but it does hurt the wallet with your mpg. Around the city I get about 17 and on the high recently on a 250-mile trip to Williamsburg from Roanoke I was scoring 24mpg. EPA rated 17/21 which is right in line with what I’m getting on average. (Used less than � tank of gas btw) Those numbers are bad today but 8 years ago they were standard with the midsize truck market.
Inside the cab you will find a dated interior with hard plastics and faux metal trim, unlike others in the market. The trim reminds me of the recent Tacoma trim just perhaps a step behind it. While you will find some great features inside the truck, the next Frontier will seem lightyears ahead when they debut it for the next generation. My model same standard with tilt wheel, wheel controls, 4.3’ screen with XM radio, no backup camera but I put one in myself for about $45, A/C, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, rear windows, power windows and a few other small creature comforts. The Pro4X which is a couple of trims ahead of this adds some other features like leather, heated seats, nav, dual climate controls and a sunroof.
The thing I do like about the Frontier is its rugged insides. Most people don’t like the hard plastics, but I do, it’s easy to wipe off with the dust or dirt when you take it off roading.
Speaking of off roading, I can say without a doubt the SV trim is just as capable as a Jeep Wrangler Sport or Sahara edition, even without lockers (those Jeeps don’t have them either) you will find yourself being able to keep up with them just fine. Now, a Wrangler with lockers like the Rubicon, no the SV Frontier will not be able to keep up but upgrade to the Pro4X and you’ll be on equal footing with it on paper and in the field.
The shift on the fly 4WD is nice and well suited for the truck, I’ve used it several times without any major issues. You do need to put it into neutral for 4WD Low then put it into drive, but nothing major.
You will be surprised that the 4WD system is better than Chevy and GMC and on equal par with Tacoma. My only real complaint here is that I wish it wasn’t a switch and an actual lever. The Fronty is actually far more capable than the Chevy/GMC counterpart, especially on it’s entry angles when hitting the backroads.
In many ways the Frontier is like having a truck frozen in time and for people that don’t really need a 125 way power adjusting seat or a climate zone for each of your passengers then this is the truck for you. The Frontier isn’t for everyone, I get it. But I wish manufactures would keep trucks, well truck like. The Frontier reminds me of why I wanted a truck to start with.
It’s got a great price point compared to the others (I noticed that the Frontiers would sell faster on the used lots than the Tacoma’s), it has just enough features to make me happy and I can haul stuff, the main point of a truck.