$14,280 - $32,418

2018 Nissan Frontier Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Nissan Frontier was new.


Performance: 7.4

The 2018 Nissan Frontier comes standard with a four-cylinder engine that delivers adequate power for everyday driving but isn’t as capable as the available V6. The Frontier provides a suitable ride as long as the pavement is smooth, but over uneven roads – and especially off road – the ride gets noticeably rougher. The Frontier won't win any awards for its agility, either.

  • "A 4.0-liter V6 is available in King Cab and is standard in Crew Cab models or any 4WD Frontier. With a robust 261 horsepower it provides some scoot. With it, a 6-speed manual is standard and a 5-speed automatic is available. The 4-cylinder model is no slouch, offering a respectable tow rating of 3,500 pounds, and 2WD V6 models can tow up to 6,500 pounds." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Unless squeezing every last mile from a gallon of fuel is your overriding priority, forget the Frontier's sluggish 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The fuel economy penalty for opting for the stout 4.0-liter V6 is fairly negligible, and in return you'll enjoy markedly more energetic acceleration, as well as upgraded hauling and towing ability." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The Nissan Frontier is a midsize pickup that offers buyers much of the capability of a full-size pickup in a smaller, more maneuverable and relatively fuel-efficient package." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Frontier comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. This engine is fine for driving around town, but it doesn’t provide great acceleration. It also doesn’t deliver the towing ability of the available V6. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a five-speed automatic is available.

A 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque is available (and standard in higher trims). This engine unlocks the Frontier’s full towing and hauling capabilities. It also delivers better acceleration than the base engine and feels stronger on the highway. The V6 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and is available with a five-speed automatic.

With the base engine, the Frontier earns an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy is virtually the same with the V6, which gets 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

  • "We were impressed with the powerful 4.0-liter V6 engine, but not the resulting fuel economy. We averaged 15 mpg around town, which is outmatched by full-size trucks today. The Frontier's outdated 5-speed automatic transmission is also at fault here." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "We'll acknowledge that a V6-powered, crew cab Frontier with the six-speed manual transmission is a tempting (and increasingly rare) package, but most buyers are going to find the five-speed automatic transmission a better everyday companion. Still, we'd like to see Nissan add an additional overdrive gear to improve highway fuel economy and allow for quieter and more relaxed cruising at speed." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "V6 models have plenty of low-end torque to get moving from a stop, especially in the lighter King Cabs. The automatic transmission downshifts responsively to tap into the engine's willing midrange and highway passing power." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

The Frontier comes standard with rear-wheel drive and is available with four-wheel drive. Ride quality is generally fine, making this an OK commuting vehicle. However, this Nissan isn’t that maneuverable or agile. The steering feels unresponsive around turns, and the brake pedal feels soft, though stopping power is fine.

  • "In our test of a Crew Cab PRO-4X model, we found the new Frontier easy to maneuver and more agile and comfortable for the daily commute. Trucks this size are again gaining popularity, and the easier maneuverability in the city compared to a full-size truck is certainly one of the reasons why. On rough pavement, however, the Nissan's PRO-4X off-road suspension could be harsh." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Ride quality is better than you'd expect, even on the Pro-4X model, but when you're going around turns, the Frontier's heavy, slow steering is a hindrance, and there's no disguising the fact that this truck would rather be going straight. In addition, the brake pedal has a spongy feel that doesn't inspire confidence, even though actual stopping performance is adequate." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Handling is nicely balanced and well controlled for a pickup truck. Body lean is noticeable through turns, but it's not excessive. The steering has a weighty feel and is fairly direct, but it's slow to react in tight parking lot maneuvers." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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