The Frontier is 12 years old and is generally regarded as old and outclassed, but its a mistake to write it off just yet. At least in my opinion.
I mean 12 years! That seems like such a long product life today. However, I still think its one of the smarter truck buys on the market and I’ll tell you why.
First - That interior. Oh man that interior.
Its unarguably terrible. Not stab yourself in the eye terrible but certainly in comparison its flat out bad. Im of the opinion, however, that function in a truck should come first and frankly its still an extremely functional interior and honestly having spent a lot of butt time in both this and a Tacoma I would have to rate the frontiers interior as a nicer place to sit for extended periods of time.
Moving away from the obviously dated interior and on the mechanicals:
The 4.0 VQ puts out 261 hp, which is the least peak power of these trucks, BUT it has 288 lbs-ft of torque...the most of the gas V6 trucks, averaged out (power under the curve), the Frontier is actually midpack for the 3 true midsized trucks on the market (Tacoma, Canyorado, Frontier). And its measured 0-60 is still faster than the Tacoma.
It comes with a 5 speed auto (not bad but keep an eye on the intergrated trans cooler) and a 6 speed manual (no joy to row but not terrible).
The mileage is poor as a result, but its not THAT bad.
The 5 speed auto is a little dated against the 6 and 8 speed units and combined with the larger, port injected V6 means you are going to spend $2000 in gas over 5 years compared to the most frugal option right now for Off-Road spec’d trucks. It fairs much more favorably when you look at the manual option.
A little worse in the city a little BETTER on the highway and the same combined. Granted I’ve seen first hand how the frontier does on fuel and its definitly worse than the tacoma to the tune of about 2-3 mpg real world (auto to auto). And if you are off road its especially worse.
Value wise this is where the rubber meats the road.
You can get a fully equipped Frontier Pro-4X 6 speed for about $32,000 after incentives and thats roughly $5000 less than the comparably equipped Toyota, and its the same for the Colorado (auto v auto).
Understand that $5000 difference financed over 5 years is actually closer to $6000 and that $2000 fuel bill difference over 5 years doesn’t seem so bad. Unless you got a manual in which case its a much bigger savings...plus, you know, a manual.
Its got a true selectable rear locker, a Dana 44 rear axle with rear discs, and a fully boxed frame; all pretty great assets in a truck this size off road.
I’ve done lots of off road trips with a SV non-Pro 4X and while it needs more help than my truck or the TRD off road tacoma on really challenging terrain, its never let its owner down and always made it through. Frankly, its made a pretty good case for itself on the trail.
Add to the fact that its really not a bad looking truck, its been proven pretty reliable and durable and still compares somewhat favorably against newer trucks performance wise its age starts to look less and less like a liability.
Sure there is a new Navara based frontier coming that will be better in every measurable way...probably...but I am going to miss this when it leaves the market. This is as close to a pure “truck” as exists on the market today in my estimation and I think its badness and age are going to be missed by the “keep it simple” crowd (myself a life long member).