2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X is a Good Value Alternative to Overpriced Super Trucks - IMBOLDN
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It seems like every few months a headline will pop up describing modern pickup trucks as being “too big.” The comment section on these articles usually shines an interrogator’s light on truck owners with scratch-free truck beds. Yet, regardless of positive or negative opinions, pickup trucks are a big part of the transportation landscape. Today’s truck market offers a model for every kind of want, need, and lifestyle. Options include heavy-duty diesel engines with enough torque to reverse earth’s orbit, sleek new electric pickups, and supercharged 4x4s named after a dinosaur. However, mid-sized pickup trucks like the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X offer a reasonable and cost-effective alternative to a subjectively oversized and overpriced super truck.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Nissan Frontier Pro4X Provides Big Truck Vibes without the Stereotype

Living in Texas means constantly being surrounded by pickup trucks. You see all kinds ranging from the latest showroom models, job site veterans wearing several years of blue-collar patina, vintage trucks that never retired, and all-terrain tanks dressed in the owner’s political views. I own keys to several pickup trucks in my personal life and have tested most if not all of the F-super-Duramax-Hemi-TRD-duty models currently on the market. From personal experience, driving a full-sized “big truck” with a decent lift kit, towering dimensions, and Lazy Boy interior is a lot of fun. The feeling of weight and power is intoxicating when you’re behind the wheel of these utilitarian mammoths. On the highway, you’re essentially a freight train with better handling. You look down at ordinary sedans and crossover SUVs, bullying them into switching lanes, or risk being blinded by the light from your eye-level LED headlamps.

The feeling of weight and power is intoxicating when you’re behind the wheel of these utilitarian mammoths. On the highway, you’re essentially a freight train with better handling.

However, as with all good things in life, there is usually a catch. The downside to these large pickup trucks is what you’d expect. When entering a parking garage or drive-thru, one must constantly double-check the height sign. Parking spaces can feel like shopping for jeans after the holidays. Not to mention the fact that you need a camera, and more sensors than a bank’s security system, to see anything shorter than five-feet standing in front of these big trucks. Plus, keeping these vehicles topped off with fuel is anything but affordable.

Then there is the stigma often associated with being seen in these vehicles. If you stand at less than six feet, as I do, people will recall the old joke about short people in tall trucks. People can often make negative assumptions about a big truck with a scratch-free cargo bed and spotless chrome wheels being someone’s choice of personal transportation. Now, no vehicle is free from stigma. Sadly, it does not matter what you drive; people have a knee-jerk reaction to judge.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

But, the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X, while smaller in size, offers the visual presence and performance of a pea-cocking 4×4 super truck while flying under the radar of big-truck stereotypes. Moreover, the new Nissan Frontier Pro4X honors its D21 Hardbody ancestor with convenient dimensions, the off-road prowess of a mountain goat, and a powerful V6 engine.

Catching Air and Making Rooster Tails with the Frontier Pro4X

In the recent past, I have experienced the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X off-road capability at two different all-terrain testing events. This time I was testing the mid-size 4×4 on home turf on a ranch in South Texas. Here on the dirt roads, the Nissan Frontier proved it could handle the demands of a farm truck while also providing a surprising amount of thrills.

The Frontier’s 3.8-liter V6 (standard on all trim levels) produces 310-hp and 281 lb.-ft of torque. Furthermore, it uses a nine-speed automatic transmission to send its power to the rear wheels. Off-road-ready trim levels like the Pro and Pro4X offer on-the-fly selectable four-wheel-drive via a dial on the dashboard. What I found surprising was how quick the 2022 Nissan Frontier pickup truck feels.

Here on the dirt roads, the Nissan Frontier proved it could handle the demands of a farm truck while also providing a surprising amount of thrills.

On paper, the Frontier Pro4X sprints from zero to 60 mph in the seven-second range, depending on its body style configuration and drive setting. But in the real world, the truck feels quick and light on its feet as the nine-speed gearbox runs through its gear in rapid-fire secession. I frequently had to ease off the throttle to avoid unintentionally breaking the speed limit. Surprisingly quick performance is a common characteristic with Nissan vehicles that is not limited to the Z and GTR. Anyone who owns or has driven a Nissan Altima can attest to the brand’s wolf in sheep’s clothing brisk acceleration.

As a result, I could blast down bumpy, slippery dirt roads at high speeds with total control. I felt the wheel go numb in a few instances and felt light in my seat as the truck lifted off the ground. The Pro4X package all-terrain tires and Bilstein off-road shocks absorbed the force of gravity upon landing. The Nissan Frontier has notably firm steering, which does require getting used to, like a new workout routine.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Like a high-performance super truck, the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X comes with a temptation to walk with a heavy right foot. It’s a fun pickup truck to drive. It accelerates like it wants to impress you with a subtle but noteworthy V6 hum as it propels forward to a limited top speed of over 110 mph. The acceleration and ride height provokes a sudden burst of unexpected joy on par with finding a 20 dollar bill in an old coat. This mid-size truck is happy to spin its rear wheels and produce Foghorn Leghorn size rooster tails on the back roads of rural communities.

Pros and Cons with the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X

There are a few things I did not like about the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X. For starters, the Sports Bar ($1,095 option) increases the truck’s curb appeal with a touch of tactical ruggedness. While stylish, it makes it harder to reach objects stored at the back of the cargo bed. The off-road step rails ($950 option) look great, but their sandpaper bed liner texture makes scuffing a pair of boots as easy as spraying mud off them. 

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Another con with the Nissan Frontier is the lack of color in its interior. But, on the plus side, the Frontier’s interior is still a better place to sit compared to its main competitor, the Toyota Tacoma, which feels like sitting inside a Corolla with a taller ride height. Considering the Pro4X is a premium trim level, one would expect more than a plain black and gray cabin. Lastly, the Pro and Pro4X trim levels should offer a better exhaust system to give the V6’s note some baritone.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

Now for the pros. The quality sound of its Fender audio system will have you sitting in parking lots waiting for songs to finish before opening the door. The rear seating legroom is ample, with storage space under the seat. Moreover, the LED lights in the cargo bed are powerful enough to turn night into day. I appreciate that Nissan decided to stick with a simple pull-down gear shift lever instead of a dial. This kind of shifter is easier to use and feels almost nostalgic. My favorite thing about the Nissan Frontier Pro4X is how it drives. Its handling characteristic promotes joy even at school zone speeds. The Nissan Frontier is eager to please, like a Labrador puppy.

2022 Nissan Frontier Pricing and Gas Mileage

During 700 miles of heavy-footed driving, long-distance highway travel, and barreling down dirt roads, the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X averaged 18 mpg. Typical fuel economy for a pickup truck that tips the scales at nearly 5,000 pounds. The Frontier’s exterior design may look sculpted like a disciplined workout routine but underneath it’s heavy bones.

The Nissan Frontier is available in 12 variants with two and four doors and an optional long bed. Off-road-focused variants like the ProX and Pro4X come standard only in crew cab configuration. Pricing starts at $27k for a 2022 Nissan Frontier King Cab S. The Pro4X trim starts at $37k and comes standard with a host of off-road goodies. These parts include front and rear stabilizer bars, Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differentials, skid plates for the truck’s oil pan, fuel tanks, and its two-speed transfer case. The set of 31.6-inch (265/70R17) all-terrain tires helps improve the truck’s ground clearance to 9.4-inches. In addition, the Frontier offers a 360 camera view and a forward-facing camera to see the trail ahead when shifted into 4LO.

Photo by Jesus R. Garcia

The Nissan Frontier Pro4X shown in this article has an MSRP price of $46,965 thanks to options like the sports bar, bed access retractable step, off-road step rails. In addition to the Technology Package, it includes the latest driver safety aids like lane departure, rear braking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and intelligent cruise control. Nissan’s Pro Convenience Package features a spray-in bed liner, heated front seats and steering wheel, and the off-road mode camera monitor. Lastly, the Pro Premium Package adds leather seats, a sunroof, ten speakers worth of Fender audio, and a set of 17-inch Beadlock style alloy wheels.

A Mighty Midsize Pickup Truck

There are plenty of people who want a pickup truck more than they need one – and that’s fine. If you have the means, buy what you want. However, while owning a supercharged 4×4 sounds exciting, not everyone can afford to deal with their single-digit gas mileage and outrageous MSRPs. Thankfully, pickup trucks like the 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro4X offer a mid-sized alternative at a more reasonable, by comparison, price.

To sum up, the Nissan Frontier Pro4X offers truck buyers a viable option for a machine with 4×4 flare, muscle, and rugged good looks. On a side note, if I had a majority stake in Nissan, I would recommend devoting some resources to developing a NISMO edition Frontier for truck buyers more interested in humiliating Type-R Civics at street lights than going off-road.