Nissan Frontier Pro-4X off-road review

Term limits don’t apply to the new car industry. If they did, the 2017 Nissan Frontier you see here wouldn’t be a dead-ringer for the 2005 Nissan Frontier that hit dealer lots during George W. Bush’s first term.

A lot has changed since 2005. But not the Frontier. Sure, it’s up for a redesign, but the current Frontier persists, and, frankly, it’s a testament to the design and engineering work Nissan did a decade and a half ago. At $37,000, the 2017 Frontier Pro-4X we tested recently represents the cream of the Nissan mid-size pickup crop. That’s big coin, but it’s still well under what you’d pay for an equivalent Toyota Tundra TRD Off Road or Chevrolet Colorado Z71.

The Frontier still has some life left in it. Consumers continue to snap them up—they’re rarely discounted and used ones sell for almost as much as a brand new one. It’s distinctly dated, but it still holds plenty of appeal. Here’s a look at what you need to know about the 2017 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X.

Behind the times, but big on value

Don’t look for blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, ventilated seats, an 8-speed automatic transmission, or Apple CarPlay in the Nissan Frontier. Even our fully loaded Pro-4X was light on luxuries aside from standard navigation—but you won’t get as many features for the $37,000 as-tested price in the Frontier’s rivals. Pickups are expensive, even smaller ones.

What the Pro-4X does include, however, are off-road goodies like Bilstein shocks, knobby Hankook Dynapro AT/M rubber, a locking rear differential, skid plates, a spray-on bedliner, and even a first aid kit.

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Our crew cab tester started at $34,290 including a $900 destination charge. Another $2,100 brought heated leather seats, a power moonroof, and a gigantic roof rack. Nissan charges a silly $120 for floor mats and our tester was swathed in gaudy, $465 exterior graphics. Pass.

Goldilocks sizing

Mid-size pickups are plenty big, but the 205-inch-long Frontier is more than half a foot shorter than its rivals. That’s because, back in 2005, 205 inches was about the average length of a mid-size truck. It’s also almost two inches narrower than the Colorado and the Tacoma.

That’s hardly an advantage when it comes to interior room since the Nissan is a bit tighter in every dimension, especially our tester’s cramped back seat. But when it comes to back country four-wheeling on roads that may simply be too narrow for a large truck, the Nissan can squeeze where its siblings cannot.

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