Keeping your on- and off-road adventures safe are standard front airbags and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Side curtain airbags for front and rear seat passengers are option, as well as a standard shoulder belt for the middle rear seat passenger on the Crew Cab and child seat anchor points, also on the Crew Cab.

The Frontier rides on a shortened Titan ladder frame made from high tensile-strength steel. Up front, it copies the Titan's double-wishbone independent suspension, and out back, it rides on a regular solid axle with leaf springs. Motivating the Frontier is the same 4.0L DOHC V-6 with Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control derived from the 3.5L engine found in many Nissan cars. It puts down 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, up 11 hp and 11 lb-ft since the last model we tested in 2005. It even gets a respectable 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway, though it's in the 2WD King Cab model. If that's more than you need, the King Cab XE and SE models are available with a 2.5L DOHC inline-four-cylinder engine producing 152 hp and 171 lb-ft and mated to either a five-speed manual (XE) or five-speed automatic (SE) transmission, and the fours only get 2WD. Step up to the King Cab SE, LE or PRO-4X V6 models and you can get 4WD, a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. Crew Cab models in SE, SE and PRO-4X all get V-6s and a choice of 2 or 4WD. Only the SE gets a six-speed manual option, the other two are automatics only.

Once you're off-road in the 4WD models, Nissan has a host of goodies to help you tame the great outdoors. Nissan's shift-on-the-fly 4WD saves you from having to get out and lock the hubs thanks to an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. Optional two or four-wheel limited slip helps keep power going where it's needed most. An available Hill Descent system works in forward and reverse gears when the truck is in 4WD and helps you stay in control on steep inclines. Also available is a Hill Start Assist that allows you to release the brake pedal without any roll-back for 2 sec while you get your foot to the gas pedal for a nice, smooth start up a tough hill. Hill Start and Descent are part of a Traction Package and only available with the automatic transmission. Every Frontier gets four-wheel disc brakes and V-6s get a maximum 6500-lb towing capacity.

If you liked the Frontier 10 years ago, you'll like it today. It's picked up a few new tricks thanks to modern automotive technology, but the Frontier is still the same workhorse it's always been. Its face may be showing its age, but this truck's still got plenty of fight in it.


2009 Nissan Frontier
Base Price $22,210 - $29,740
Vehicle layout Front engine, RWD and AWD, 5-pass, 4-door Truck
Engine 4.0L/261-hp/281-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 5-speed automatic; 6-speed manual
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4259-4544 lbs (mfr)
Wheelbase 113.7 in
Length x width x height 205.5-219.4/72.8/70.1-73.9 in
Headroom, f/r 40.0/38.7 in
Legroom, f/r 42.4/33.6 in
Shoulder room, f/r 58.3/58.3 in
Cargo volume 27.1-33.5 cu.ft
Towing Capacity 6100-6300 lbs
EPA City/Hwy Econ 14-16/19-20 mpg
CO2 Emissions 1.15-1.22 lb/mile