CHATHAM, Mass. – The 2023 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab mid-size pickup kept surprising throughout my week behind the wheel.
Surprise number one: just how livable the truck was for a non-trucker like me. Ingress and egress was easy for us (not always the case, even with mid-size pickups).
Surprise number two: the relative quiet of the interior. The 310-horsepower V6 lets you know it lives under the angular hood when the accelerator is mashed, but conversation during cruising or enjoying sounds from the Fender premium audio system was no problem.
Surprise number three: Despite being rigged for off-road adventuring, just how straightforward, almost car-like, it was to drive and navigate around the crowded, height-of-the-season Cape Cod streets. The power was there to make quick moves around stalled traffic, while the well-defined outer edges of the body coupled with well-engineered advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) meant knowing where and what obstacles awaited me allowed me to maneuver with ease.
Under that squared-off hood resides a 3.8-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine featuring a DOHC (double overhead camshaft) 24-valve, continuous variable valve timing control system, variable valve event and lift fuel delivery system and Direct Injection Gasoline™. All that engineering speak produces 310 horsepower and 281 pounds-feet of torque on regular gasoline; no need for premium to get maximum performance with the Frontier.
The available power flows through a nine-speed automatic transmission and shift-on-the-fly part-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) system with two speed (Hi and Low) transfer case, all pieces which contribute to the off-road capabilities of the vehicle.
Helping protect the transfer case and fuel tank from the rigors of off-roading are steel skid plates.
This also translates into the ability to handle trailers up to 6,270 pounds and a tongue capacity of 627 pounds.
Nissan’s engineers worked hard to minimize excess weight, thus keeping the heavily optioned Frontier under 5,000 pounds (4,709) which contributed to, along with the powertrain design, fuel economy of approximately 23 miles per gallon under my aggressive right foot. This betters the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 19 mpg rating (17 urban, 22 highway).
Platform dynamics and features
Underneath the distinctive angular bodywork, Nissan has engineered a double-wishbone front suspension with twin-tube Bilstein™ off-road shock absorbers and 36mm stabilizer bar as part of the Pro-4X setup.
In the rear solid engineering ensures the overslung multi-leaf with Dana axle, 25.4mm stabilizer bar and Bilstein™ shocks setup does its job with aplomb.
The braking system features electronic brake-force distribution, anti-lock (ABS), vented rotos all around (11.7-inches front, 11.3 rear) and two-piston calipers in the front, single-piston in the rear.
Those brakes are encased within 17-inch aluminum-alloy dark, beadlock style wheels shod with very aggressively tread 265/70R17 all-terrain tires.
Standard on the Frontier are automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection and Nissan’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning. The test vehicle included the optional ($990 – money well spent!) Technology Package with lane departure warning; blind-spot warning; rear cross-traffic alert; rear-seat sonar; rear automatic braking; high-beam assist; intelligent cruise control, and traffic-sign recognition.
Again, the ADAS along with the overall solid visibility and responsive powertrain make driving the Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab a pleasure even on crowded streets and tight parking lots.
Inside, a cabin filled with amenities and technology
The look is straightforward, pickup-truck utility, but the equipment is what you might find in a modern, well-equipped SUV or premium car. And like most pickup trucks, this level of equipment has come with the judicious addition of two major option packages: Pro Convenience Package ($2,190) and Pro Premium Package ($2,790).
The standard Pro-4X includes dual-zone automatic climate control; adjustable steering wheel with audio controls; six-way power driver’s seat, and push-button engine start.
The Nissan Connect® infotainment system is controlled by a nine-inch LED color touch screen featuring Nissan Door to Door Navigation; Wireless Apple CarPlay (which worked seamlessly every time – something not every wireless Apple CarPlay system can boast) and Android Auto, and voice recognition.
The Pro Convenience Package adds a heated steering wheel; heated front seats; Intelligent Around View Monitor (surround camera) with Moving Object Detection (MOD) and off-road mode; second-row under-seat storage, and wireless mobile-device charging.
Other features of the package are spray-on bedliner; Uni-track® System with two adjustable tie-down cleats in bed; 120-Volt outlet in bed and rear center console; LED under (bed) rail lighting; remote engine start, and trailer hitch with wiring harness.
The Pro Premium Package brings the 10-speaker Fender Premium Audio system; leather seating surfaces; auto-dimming inside mirror with Homelink® universal transceiver; moonroof, and the 17-inch beadlock-style wheels.
The surprise package
This fully equipped 2023 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab surprised me on the road (did not have an opportunity to try its off-road capabilities, but the pieces were definitely there to make traveling beyond the end of the pavement a simple matter) and on the Monroney window sticker.
The bottom line was $46,380 including all of the aforementioned options and packages as well as the $1,295 destination charge. Very competitive within the category.
The Frontier range starts with the two-wheel-drive S trim at $29,570 through several two-door, four-door, 2WD and 4WD variants to the Pro-4X Crew Cab.
The real surprise – how much we liked this pickup and how we could envision it fitting into our lifestyle here in Massachusetts.