Test Drive: 2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab
Class: Compact Pickup
Miles driven: 168
Fuel used: 10.5 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 16.0 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||C+|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||310-hp 3.8-liter|
Driving mix: 85% city, 15% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 17/22/19 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $37,240 (not including $1150 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Baja Storm Pearl paint ($395), Technology Package ($990), PRO Convenience Package ($1990), PRO Premium Package ($2790), floor mats ($155)
Price as tested: $44,710
The great: Redesign brings much-improved interior design and several long-missing convenience features; peppy V6 engine; competitive pricing
The good: Decent ride for a pickup truck; good in-cabin small-items storage spaces; attractive, no-nonsense styling inside and out
The not so good: Even Crew Cab model has smaller rear-seat area than some class competitors, and rear seat back is uncomfortably upright; lots of hard plastic in the interior, even in top-line model
More Frontier price and availability information
The 2022 Nissan Frontier compact pickup that Consumer Guide tested arrived in pieces. No, wait . . . that didn’t come out right.
What we mean is the redone truck’s incumbent 3.8-liter V6 and 9-speed automatic transmission first appeared in the aged previous-generation Frontier in 2020. Now comes the rest: new styling with a more in-your-face face, a vastly improved instrument display, and infotainment that is modernized without going completely over the top. You’ll find improvement in “Finally!” features like the addition of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility and a “soft-drop” tailgate that can be locked remotely.
The 2022 lineup consists of 2- and 4-wheel-drive models in S, SV, and PRO-X trim levels. Cab configurations come down to a choice of extended King Cab (in S and SV trim only) or full 4-door Crew Cab (at all levels). Crew Cabs are fitted with a 5-foot-long cargo bed save for an SV Long Bed version that features the 6-foot bed from Frontier King Cab trucks.
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Consumer Guide sampled the most off-road-prepped model available, the PRO-4X, which is the 4WD variant of the PRO-X. Starting price, with delivery, is $38,390. (The 2-wheel-drive PRO-X lists for $3000 less.) It is the costliest Frontier, but even then it is exceptionally competitive with other “off-road-specials” in its size class. With a trio of comfort and driver-assistance option packages, extra-cost Baja Storm Pearl paint, and a set of dealer-installed all-weather floor mats, the test truck came in at $44,710.
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Off-road-oriented gear amounts to all-terrain tires on 17-inch painted alloy wheels (a change in diameter and style from the last-gen PRO-4X); an electronically locking rear differential; Bilstein high-pressure off-road shock absorbers; and skid plates to shield the undersides of the oil pan, fuel tank, and transfer case. In case you miss the bedside “PRO-4X” decal you can still pick this one out of a crowd by its black fender flares and grille. Lava Red tow hooks (their color matches the contrast stitching in the cabin) peek out from either side of the aluminum front skid plate.
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The pre-production test truck was enhanced with leather upholstery from the $2790 PRO Premium Package option but cloth is standard. The front seats are now the “Zero Gravity” type intended to help reduce fatigue during longer drives. Other base-price features of the PRO-4X include LED headlights and fog lights, LED interior lighting, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The woefully dated instrument display of the previous Frontier—a truck with roots in 2005—is replaced by a cluster that is bigger, brighter, and more informative. The infotainment touchscreen has grown to nine inches; in the PRO-4X it hosts navigation and an audio system that’s still straightforward to understand and operate, thanks in part to physical volume and tuning knobs. (You can swipe and pinch too, if you’re feeling hopelessly modern.) Voice-activated NissanConnect remote services and a newly available Wi-Fi hotspot are included as well.
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There’s more available for the tech lover like the wireless charging and overhead-view monitor with moving-object detection that are components of the PRO Convenience Package. However, it is a little distressing that all safety-enhancing driver aids—even blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts—require ponying up for the Technology Package option.
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Specs for the powerteam are unchanged since its debut. The V6 still generates 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, and it performs well with the 9-speed automatic. All in all, the ’22 Frontier is a fairly quick and responsive truck that’s eager off the line and likably quiet. Towing capacity for the PRO-4X is 6290 pounds. In normal commuting without a load the test truck averaged 19.4 mpg from this driver’s 66.9-mile stint that was 61 percent city-style operation. EPA projections for this model are 17 mpg in city driving, 22 on the highway, and 19 combined.
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The on-road driving experience of this new-generation PRO-4X didn’t strike us as substantially different from before. Even with its specific chassis components it rides fairly well, taking most road cracks and joints in stride, though it can feel a little jittery at highway speeds. Steering is easy and decently responsive.
Interior accommodations are also on a par with the former model. Front-row passenger space remains good and the new-style seats are certainly comfortable. However, rear-seat legroom remains somewhat limited, and while three adults might feasibly occupy the rear seat (thanks in part to an almost-flat floor), they’ll find themselves propped up against an upright seat back that isn’t so luxuriously padded. Large windows provide the driver with excellent all-around vision.
Even at the high end the new Frontier still comes off as more of a worker bee than a queen, with plenty of hard plastic in evidence despite softer touches like a leather-clad steering wheel and leatherette-wrapped console. Improvements to in-cabin storage include a more capacious glovebox and the addition of a storage pouch to the back of the front passenger seat. Space in the console box is still limited, there’s a pull-down central armrest in back, and all four doors have decent storage pockets with bottle holders. Rear seat backs fold flat; alternately, the cushions fold up to reveal floor-level storage bins. Buyers can make it more rough and ready for cargo hauling by adding things like a spray-in bedliner, “Utili-track” side rails with adjustable tie-down cleats, a 120-volt power outlet, and under-rail bed lighting, all of which were parts of the PRO Convenience Package.
The first thorough redo of its compact pickup in a long, long time could have given Nissan the opportunity to change the truck’s familiar uncomplicated nature. It has made it better in terms of updating its tech complement to better serve the needs and expectations of today’s drivers, but they haven’t overdone it or overpriced it.
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2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Gallery
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2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
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