CHATHAM, Mass. – Nissan – ne Datsun – has been selling pickup trucks in the U.S. market for parts of eight decades and the new third generation of its Frontier immediately jumps to the top tier of compact haulers.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab combines the rugged, functional utilitarian capabilities the brand’s trucks are known for with modern technology, safety and driver-assistance features as well as creature comforts previously the purview of more luxurious vehicles.

Even driven with the five-foot bed empty (a long wheelbase, six-foot bed version is available for even more cargo space; the shorter example is more maneuverable off road for which the Pro-4X is engineered), the 2022 Frontier rode well; with a controlled ride even over bumps and less-than-smooth roads.

Powertrain and platform provide solid base

In 2020 Nissan became the first manufacturer to put 310-horsepower under its compact pickup’s hood and the new 2022 Frontier continues with the 3.8-liter, double-overhead-cam, direct-injection V6 with that output. The venerable powerplant cranks out 281 pounds-feet of torque, all outputting through a new nine-speed automatic (a five-speed was used previously) transmission.

The shift-on-the-fly parttime four-wheel-drive (4WD or 4X4) features an electronically controlled transfer case with 2HI/4HI/4LO settings. Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control is standard helping those adventurous safely climb and descend steep grades.

The PRO-4X model adds an electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and underbody skid plates for the fiercest of off-road adventurers.

The standard braking system includes four-wheel discs (vented 11.7-inch diameter x 1.1-inch thickness rotors and two-piston calipers in the front; 11.3 diameter x 0.7 thick, single-piston at the rear), anti-lock (ABS), electronic brake force distribution and a foot-operated mechanical parking brake.

Driver assistance technology rivaling expensive vehicles.

The Pro-4X features automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection and intelligent forward collision warning. The truck we sampled added, via the Technology Package, other elements of Nissan’s Safety Shield®360 (its advanced driver-assistance systems, ADAS) including:

  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane departure warning
  • High-beam assist
  • Rear automatic braking
  • Intelligent cruise control
  • Traffic-sign recognition

Nissan has also enhanced its 360º-camera system, introducing its Intelligent Around View® Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode. Nissan was the first automaker to offer Around View Monitor, which creates a birds’ eye view by stitching together views from four cameras mounted on the outside of the vehicle.

The new Off-Road Mode, part of the Pro Convenience Package on the Frontier PRO-4X I drove, functions while the vehicle is moving forward at slow speeds and the 4WD system is in 4LO, ideal for negotiating tight trails without having an external spotter to avoid potential body scrapes or dents.

A sophisticated tire-pressure monitoring system with Easy Fill Tire Alert, which includes specific tire-pressure information for each separate tire, is also included with the basic Pro-4X package.

Technology, amenities and creature comforts of a large, well fitted cabin

The Pro Convenience and Pro Premium packages enhanced the equipment of the Pro-4X to provide a considerable collection of driver and passenger amenities. The leather-clad seats were heated in the front (the driver’s also power adjustable); the infotainment system’s audio was pumped out through a 10-speaker Fender system; the leather steering wheel was heated as were the outside mirrors; a tilt/sliding moonroof sat above the front seats; USB-C and A outlets were front and rear, as well as 110-Volt outlets in the rear of the cabin and in the bed and gobs of storage were offered throughout.

Nissan Connect®, part of the Pro-4X package, featured a nine-inch color touch screen; door-to-door navigation; Bluetooth connectivity for the infotainment system; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; voice recognition control of infotainment and vehicle systems and a WiFi hotspot.

There are a lot of features within the confines of the Frontier’s cabin as well as its bed.

Crunching numbers

There are two major sets of numbers to consider when examining a new vehicle: fuel-economy results and price.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2022 Frontier Pro-4X at 19 miles per gallon overall, 17 in urban driving and 22 on the highway. Our results were virtually spot on with the EPA – we saw 19.1 mpg during our time with the compact pickup, including 22 on the highway at an average of 64 miles per hour (the Frontier includes that information within the varied menus offered through the seven-inch Advanced Driver-Assist® Display instrument cluster).

The mileage was good for a vehicle like the Frontier; competitive and acceptable considering the truck’s capabilities.

The second number to consider is price. The two-door King Cab Frontier S 2WD provides the range’s foundation and comes with a base price of $28,140. Choices like a longer wheelbase (and bed); two or four-door (King or Crew Cab) setup and more extensive specialty trim and equipment allows you to get just the compact pickup you both need and desire.

The comprehensively equipped — showing off many of the capabilities the Frontier can offer — Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab we drove came in at $46.570, competitive within the segment! And this price reflects an extensive list of options and packages which brought the Pro-4X MSRP up from $37,240.

The bottom line on the new 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X: this is a worthy descendant of the company’s proud lineage of compact pickup trucks. It has been brought up to today’s standards in all of the important areas, especially safety, driver-assistance and creature comforts.

A worthy example to carry on the Nissan name in this category.