2023 Nissan Frontier

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Nissan Frontier – like the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevy Colorado – used to be a compact-sized truck that almost anyone who wanted a new truck could afford to buy, because its base price was less than that of almost any new car. 

Today’s Frontier – like the Ranger, Tacoma and Colorado – is almost full-sized truck (by the standards that used to define a full-size truck) and fewer can afford it, because it costs more to start than many new cars. 

Does that mean it’s a bad truck? 

Not at all. 

But it does mean it’s a different kind of truck.

What It Is 

The Frontier is Nissan’s no-longer-compact-sized pick-up.

Though smaller than the enormous Titan (and other current super-sized half-ton trucks like the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado) the Frontier has about the same footprint as a full-sized truck used to. It also comes standard with more horsepower than most full-sized trucks used to offer.

Like the others in its class, it comes only in extended (king cab) and crew cab styles; none of the currently available no-long-compact-sized pickups are available with a regular cab – and just two doors.

Prices start at $29,190 for the base S trim King (extended) cab with a six foot bed and 2WD; adding the available 4WD system bumps the MSRP up to $32,390.

A crew cab with four full-size doors and a shorter (5 foot) bed stickers for $30,490 with 2WD; the MNSRP increases to $33,870 if you order the optional 4WD system.

The Crew Cab is also available in in Pro-X ($36,100) and top-of-the-line Pro-4x ($38,720) trims. These models come standard with Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential, a 10 speaker upgraded audio system, dark-anodized wheels with all-terrain tires and other functional and cosmetic upgrades.

All trims come standard with a 3.8 liter V6.

What’s New for 2023

A Midnight Edition is available (crew cab only) that includes black interior accents, black-anodized wheels, LED headlights, fog lights and running lights.

What’s Good

Does most of what used to take a full-sized truck to do (such as carry five people and pull almost 7,000 lbs.).

Costs less than a super-sized truck.

Comes standard with a V6 (Colorado and Tacoma come standard with fours; Ranger comes only with a turbocharged four).

What’s Not So Good 

It’s almost a full-sized truck, just like the Ranger, Tacoma and Colorado.

Unlike many full-sized trucks, it’s not available with a regular cab – most crew cabs are only available with a short (five-foot) bed.

It costs thousands more than a compact-sized truck used to cost.

Under The Hood

Because it is a nearly full-sized truck (and weighs more than a full-sized truck used to) the Frontier comes standard with a 3.8 liter V6 engine. And this engine makes 310 horsepower, which – for reference – is more than twice as much horsepower as came standard in a 1989 Ford F-150. The latter came standard with a 4.9 liter in-line six that made 150 horsepower; the ’89 could be optioned out with either of two available V8s, the most powerful being a 5.8 liter (351 cubic inch) V8 that made – wait for it! – 240 horsepower.

This was enough to power a 4,118 lb. work truck, which is what most trucks were once designed to be. The new Frontier is capable of work but it is also a luxurious truck – by the standards that once applied to luxury cars. It comes standard with climate control AC and power everything.

The ’89 didn’t.

But, it’s why the ’23 weighs 4,473 lbs. For the 2WD king cab version. A crew cab with 4WD weighs 4,773 lbs.

Hence the standard V6.

The old Frontier – which was a compact-sized truck – weighed just 3,240 lbs. That’s why it was able to get away with being powered by a 2.4 liter four cylinder engine that made only 143 horsepower. This Frontier (last made in 2004) got better gas mileage – 20 city, 24 highway vs. the new Frontier’s 18 city, 24 highway – and you could get it with a five speed manual transmission.

The new Frontier comes only with a nine speed automatic.

On the other hand, the old Frontier came standard with a max tow rating of just 3,500 lbs. – which  is less than half the new Frontier’s standard 6,700 lb. maximum tow rating. And the old Frontier needed about 10 seconds to achieve 60 MPH with its standard four cylinder engine.  The New Frontier can do the same run in about 7.5 seconds. This is also much quicker than an ’89 Ford F-150.

But there is a price to be paid for all of this. Literally as well as figuratively.

Back in ’04, you could buy a new Frontier for $13,490 – which, even adjusted for almost ten years’ worth of inflation – works out to just $22,265 today. The New Frontier costs about $8k more to start.

Granted, you are getting more truck – literally as well as figuratively. But the point here is you no longer have the option to buy less.

On The Road

Driving a compact-sized truck like the old Frontier was (still is, if you still have one) easier than driving the new Frontier, which is very much like driving a full-sized half-ton truck from about 20 years ago that’s more powerful and aggressive-feeling than those were.

It moves when you push down on the gas pedal, for one thing. The compact trucks you can’t buy anymore generally didn’t – especially the models like my ’02 Frontier that have the standard four cylinder engine. But there is the compensatory fact of being able to shift for yourself, which is something you used to be able to do in most trucks – because hey, it’s a truck. They also used to have shifters for the 4WD system. Now they have buttons or maybe knobs.

Some don’t even have those; it’s all automatic now.

There is one very noticeable difference between these new almost-full-sized trucks and the super-sized half-tons of today.

It is width.

The new Frontier is more than a foot longer than a late 1980s F-150 but it is about half a foot narrower than a new F-150 and other current 1500-series trucks. The ’23 F-150 is 95.7 inches wide (95.7 inches if you count the outside rearview mirrors). These wide-load half-tons ought to be led by a pilot car with flags and flashing lights to warn people about them coming.

It’s not quite that bad. But it’s close – sometimes.

On narrow country roads, the new F-150 and others of its class take up pretty much all the road. Or rather, the lane. There is almost no room to spare in between the yellow line to your left and the shoulder to your right. If another of these wide-load behemoths is coming at you in the other land, smacking mirrors is a real possibility. They also take up so much space in a two-car garage there’s sometimes only space enough for one truck.

The new Frontier is still six inches wider than the old Frontier – but it’s not quite as wide a load as a new half-ton. Driving it – even on narrow country roads – you don’t get the feeling there’s very little road left. It also doesn’t take up so much space in the garage that there’s not much space left for anything else.

And – to be fair to the new Frontier and its kind – driving it is a lot like driving what used to be considered a full-sized truck vs. driving a compact-sized truck like the old Frontier. The new Frontier is substantial feeling – which the old compacts weren’t.

If you think of the new Frontier as a half-ton truck like they used to make ’em – plus a lot more standard horsepower – you’ll get the idea.

At The Curb

The old Frontier stood not much higher off the ground than a car. You didn’t climb in; you just sat down. But you also sat close – to whomever was sitting beside you. And there wasn’t room for anything in between – except for the gear-shift lever.

In back?

There wasn’t an “in back” – in the standard regular cab these little trucks used to offer. If you got the extended cab, you got a pair of folding-out jumpseats that were kind of like the “collapsible B” life-boats you’ve probably heard the Titanic carried. They were there for emergencies. If you got the crew cab, you could squeeze a couple people back there. But not comfortably and so probably not for long.

The new Frontier king cab comes standard with more useable back seats than the old Frontier had with four doors. In part because the new Frontier king cab has rear doors. But even more important, there are seats.

Not jumpseats.

There’s also 26.2 inches of back seat legroom in the king cab, as opposed to (essentially) zero in the old Frontier extended cab. The new Frontier crew cab has 33.5 inches of backseat legroom – and there’s enough sideways room (due to the increased width) to seat three across.

If you want the six foot bed and the crew cab, you’re restricted to the long-wheelbase SV trim; also, the Pro-X and Pro-4X packages are only available with the crew cab (and short bed) versions of the new Frontier.

King cab versions come standard with a six foot bed.

One very nice thing about the new Frontier is that most of the “advanced driver assistance technologies” – including Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Automatic Braking – are optional on all trims.

You can also get a bedliner lighting system and an adjustable cargo tie-down system.

But you can’t get a new Frontier without a big LCD touchscreen in the dashboard. They all come with one now.

The Rest

When it was still a compact-sized truck, the old Frontier was a truck almost anyone could afford. And that was because it did not come standard with power windows or locks, a six speaker stereo, 16 inch wheels, push-button ignition, an 8 inch touchscreen and a tilt wheel, all of which do come standard in the new Frontier. Plus the fact that you literally get more truck.

And more engine.

But, it doesn’t come cheap.

The new Frontier’s base price is comparable to the inflation-adjusted price of a fully loaded ’04 Frontier  which was the last year you could buy a compact-sized Frontier. It’s nice if you can afford it – and assuming you want more truck.

No doubt some do.

On the other hand, Ford can’t build its new compact-sized Maverick fast enough to meet demand for the thing. It’s not a real truck, in the sense that it’s built on a car-type front-wheel-drive layout (with AWD available) and it’s a hybrid. But it is compact-sized and does fill the hole left by the disappearance (via-upsizing) of every other compact-sized truck people used to be able to buy.

And thus, it sells.

If Nissan were to bring back a compact-sized Frontier and offered it without power windows, locks and everything else – for about what the old Frontier sold for the last time it was available (adjusted for inflation, of course) would it sell better than this one?

It’d be interesting to run that experiment. Wait. Ford already did.

The Maverick is creaming the Ranger – which is a near-full-sized truck just like the new Frontier – that also stickers for about what it used to cost to get into a base-trim full-sized truck.

The Bottom Line

Bigger can be better – if bigger is what you need and you’re able to afford it.

If not, bigger doesn’t matter.

Even less so if you’d rather have smaller.

. . .

If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos. 

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning! 

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)

If you like items like the Keeeeeeeeev! t shirt pictured below, you can find that and more at the EPautos store!

Share Button


  1. I had a 2002 Dodge truck that came with a lot of miles. It leaked coolant. Replace the heater core. Still leaks but not in the cab. Oh, yeah, factory Mopar radiator and heater hoses on a truck with over 200k. Got that fixed and whatta know? it needs a head gasket. Which I was told isn’t done. Not going to drop another $9500 pushing $10 grand with shop supplies for a new motor.

    I found a few used trucks I liked. The Chevy Colorado looks nice. The seat was like sitting on a sheet of plywood. It just didn’t fit me. The Ford joint had nothing I wanted and they didn’t seem friendly. Found a 2019 built in December Nissan Frontier Pro4X. I think the only options missing are leather and a moon roof. Neither of which I want. Rides nice. The back seat is not a bad place to be.
    The “radio” is Rockford/Fosgate. Insane. Sounds good. The radio has XM along with AM/FM. A CD player. GPS that works as good as my phone’s with an easy to see screen. Backup camera which is neat but I’m not sure I trust it. I can blue tooth my phone for calls or playing music from my phone. And a USB port into which I shoved a little USB stick with about 5 GB of mp3 files, over 800 tracks. I play it in shuffle.

    This truck has more stuff than my boss’s 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood d’Elegance. It has stuff that didn’t exist like remote door locks and most of the radio functions. It’s just missing the ashtray and lighter in each door.

    I think I paid a few grand too much. But I did get a still smelling new 8 month old truck with 22,000 miles for about 9 grand below new. Brand new was about $38k at a Nissan dealer plus sales tax, title, and plates. It was traded in because they wanted a big ol’ Chevy to pull some monster size travel trailer.

    Nice truck. I expect it to last 20 years. I just paid it off three years early.

    • Hi Paul,

      I think you’ll be happy with this truck. The only thing I don’t like about it is the absence of a manual transmission option and that the V6 is now standard (and raises the price considerably). I love my ’02 Frontier, which has proved to be one of the best vehicles I’ve ever owned in terms of causing me almost no significant trouble. It still has the original factory clutch!

  2. ‘The Maverick is creaming the Ranger – which is a near-full-sized truck just like the new Frontier – that also stickers for about what it used to cost to get into a base-trim full-sized truck.’ — eric

    And, as noted by RobbieAG, that’s despite ridiculous availability problems with the Maverick, after Ford turned its attention to the money-losing F-150 Lightning.

    Yes, there’s still a market for compact pickups. Yes, I have one (a 1998 Frontier) and am not giving it up.

    But … it’s only two years until model year 2026, when the US fedgov’s mandatory impaired driver detection makes its unwelcome appearance.

    Based on what we know now, I will not buy ANY post-2025 vehicle, from any manufacturer, at any price. That’s when I check out for good from the market for gov-crippled spyware mobiles.

  3. My son lives in LA and ordered a 23 Maverick hybrid. It took 11 months to get it. I ordered a 24 Ecoboost AWD 4k tow package last month. Hopefully I’ll get it quicker than that as I think they’ve ramped up production. I plan to tow a smallish travel trailer with it among other things.

  4. What i like about this truck is that the LCD screen doesnt stick above the dash. Ots actually integrated into it like cars built in 2010 or so.

    If i had to buy a new truck, id definitely get one of these

  5. Nice review as always, Eric.
    Even in Asia Toyota and Isuzu have massively upsized their best selling Hilux and D-Max pickups to the point where it looks like their target segment is no longer workmen or farmers but men with adequacy issues. They’re too big, tall and unwieldy to fit onto the narrow roads here.
    What is driving this obesity trend?

  6. Well, one thing that I don’t understand is why anyone — that doesn’t run a 4-person landscape/mowing crew — would even want a 4-person truck. I like trucks but I can’t afford the truck that I want and I’ve got nowhere to park it and honestly, no real use for one.

    The truck that I want, has a huge diesel V8 and a 7 foot bed. Not sure what that translates to in today’s market but I’m pretty sure whatever it is, I can’t afford it!

    • Amen, XM –

      My little ’02 is just about ideal. It has the extended cab, so there’s some space behind the front seats for stuff (but not people). That’s enough for just the two of us. The one thing it lacks is enough power to pull a 5,000 or so pound trailer. That would take a V6 and I sometimes think about how neat it would be to take one of these little compact pickups and fit it with a GM 3.8 or 4.3 V6 and a five speed. Nothing ridiculous. Maybe 180-200 hp (stock type build) but with the torque to pull 5,000 or so pounds (so I could pull a small RV).

      That would be plenty of truck for me!

    • Hi XM. I’ve had a frontier crew cab for the last 15 years or so, a 2008 and now a 2017. Don’t think I’ve ever had anyone sit in the back seat. It does come in handy though. Storage compartment under the seat, and the seat backs fold down flat, so it’s great for tools, ropes, a lil Oscar cooler and all kinds of stuff I don’t want to get wet or stolen. I don’t have a crew that needs to ride around with me, but it’s great for storage and I still have the optional 6 1/2 ft bed, same size as the king cab.

  7. These remind me of the fleet of brand new trucks that the CIA bought for their ISIS army. But maybe those were Toyotas?? I forget TBH.

    You know, I’ve looked up some of the massive trucks that govvies drive to work down here. I mean, I like how massive and powerful they clearly are. Very cool! Not sure that I use something like that as my daily driver but whatever floats your boat.

    BUT!! When I look up the price tag of these beautiful shiny chromed-out massive machines, I feel a lot better about spending the money that I do on my cars. Holy shit! Like the RAM 3500 that whoever the hell drives every day to our lot. JFC!

    These ISIS level trucks are modest and affordable in comparison to what I see parked nearly every day out here!

    • Hi XM,

      The “terrists” seem to really like Tacos – i.e., Toyota Tacomas (Hi Luxes overseas). I like them, too. Especially because you can get one with a manual; it’s the last one that offers a manual. But – as you say – the prices are just astounding. I consider my ’02 and the fact it cost less than $14k brand-new (about $22k in today’s dollars) and I weep for what we’ve lost.

    • Speaking of the Ram 3500, I just bought one 2 weeks ago. It’s the tradesman trim. Lowest level. 4 years ago it would have run around 50 grand. Now, 75.

      I will use it as a daily driver, but I run an excavation company. I often pull 16,000 lbs or better when I’m tugging mini excavators and the like. Still hard to justify considering the fact that It’s replacing my 2016 Toyota Tundra with 130,000 miles on the clock. I pulled the same exact loads with it. Not as fast. Not as well. But still it did it and never had an issue outside of routine maintenance. While my Ram will be all but guaranteed to have some type of issue–if not a few–by that mileage.

      If I weren’t pulling these heavy loads all of the time and the Tundra still had a v-8, I would have gone that route. My 2016 replaced my 08 with 137,000 miles also no issues doing the same work. I believe that’s why the ISIS crowd and the like love Toyota’s. Of all the vehicles I’ve owned, they are hands down the best. Change the oil, filters, brakes and then just drive them.

  8. I admit to chuckling whenever I see neighbors driving huge Cinderella trucks to office jobs and not being able to park in their home garage anymore.

    One wonders why truck manufacturers don’t heed Earl Nightingale’s advice about looking where everyone else is moving and running in the opposite direction. Give us a smaller full-size truck that’s rugged, less featured, and less expensive.

    Doesn’t need three-on-the-tree, but a bench seat would be nice. Seems as if people are finally starting to understand the joy of a simple life. I know I have (finally).

    • Hi Eric. Minor little correction. The crew can actually is available with a longer 6 1/2 foot bed. They’re pretty unusual and you probably won’t find one at any of the Nissan dealers, but if you go to the Nissan website you can spec one out and order it.

      • Thanks for the catch, Floriduh! Just fixed. Having you guys as my copy editors is a boon!

        PS: I like this truck. But I like my truck (’02 Frontier) better. Yes, this new one can pull an RV and the V6 is a horse. But I don’t need a full-size truck and this new one almost is. And priced, accordingly. Nearly $40k with 4WD and a few options.

        Who can afford these things?

        • That’s what I often wonder as well, Eric.

          Debt is such a killer that, whilst I could afford one, it just is not worth it to me. The ol’ 79 F150 flatbed is paid for and serves its purpose.

          • Ditto, Confederate –

            My old truck isn’t much to look at. But it runs great, in spite of its years (21) and – best of all – it’s paid for. I could go into debt for a new Frontier. But then I’d be in debt – and people in debt are owned. I’d rather own my truck – and myself.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here