The Nissan Frontier has been a solid contender in the midsize-truck segment since it was introduced over a decade ago. Not a whole lot has changed for the Frontier over the years, but then, not a lot has needed to change. The Frontier has been a strong performer on- and off-road since its introduction, and Nissan continues to offer truck buyers a good alternative if they don't need a full-size truck or a V-8.
The big news for 2009 is the all-new PRO-4X off-road trim level. It includes goodies like skid pans for the oil pan and transfer case, an electronic rear differential locker, Bilstein shocks, and special machine-finished 16-in. alloy wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires. Inside, you get a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (on the manual transmission models) with red stitching, as well as some chrome accents on the instrument cluster. Add the Value Truck Package to your Crew Cab with PRO-4X, and you pick up heated leather front seats with the red stitching, an eight-way power driver seat and four-way power passenger seat, heated mirrors, and a fold-down center armrest in the back seats. While Crew Cab models get the bed liner, rail caps, and tie-down system standard, the King Cab picks them up when you add the PRO-4X package. All PRO-4X trucks get body-colored grilles, bumpers, mirrors, and door handles as well as foglamps, cruise control, power everything, and remote keyless entry.
While its features have improved over the years, its looks are still hanging around the starting gate. The 2009 Frontier is easily recognizeable thanks to this, though Nissan claims to have redesigned the front fascia, even if it was done with an X-acto knife instead of a sledge hammer. If you think it looks like it's trying really hard to look like its big brother, the Titan, that's because it is. Nissan freely admits the Frontier is trying to emulate many of the Titan's styling features. Little brother does get new shoes, though. LE models pick up optional 18-in. alloys, while the SE models get new 16-in. alloys. New for 2009 are two new paint options, Red Brick and Navy Blue.
Back in the business end, things are pretty much the same. Nissan has been carrying over the same array of bed features for years now. The Crew Cab SE and LE models still come with an optional Long Bed for King Cab-size bed space. All models can get the optional utility bed with sprayed-in liner and Utili-Track cargo tie-down system, which features two channels on the rails and two in the bed where tie-down cleats can be attached. Extra options for the Utili-Track system include bed dividers, sliding cargo trays and modular storage units.
Inside, it's again more of the same for the Frontier. All models have four doors, with the King Cabs sporting rear-opening clamshell doors and the Crew Cabs getting four regular doors. The King Cab has flip-up rear seats for extra storage space, and both cabs get removable storage boxes under the rear seats. Other features of note include multiple power points and 1L bottle storage in the front doors for those extra long trips. Interior options include a leather package, moonroof (Crew Cab only), iPod interface, floormats, and a portable navigation system.
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 |
Below is the official press release from Nissan for the 2009 Nissan Frontier.
2009 NISSAN FRONTIER RECEIVES FRESHENED EXTERIOR, NEW PRO-4X MODEL AND NEW VALUE TRUCK PACKAGES
The Nissan Frontier, a no-compromise pickup forged with premium hardware, extraordinary power and off-road athleticism, continues to be a leader in the mid-size truck segment. Improving its already impressive packaging, the 2009 Frontier gets updated with a new front fascia grille and headlight design and new 16-inch and 18-inch wheels. Additionally, a PRO-4X off-road model is added, along with new Frontier Crew Cab LE/PRO-4X Value Truck Packages (VTP) that offer an array of popular optional equipment at a greater value than if purchased separately.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier continues to offer an unmatched level of on- and off- road performance with the use of a 4.0-liter DOHC V6 engine with best-in-segment horsepower, torque, towing and payload specifications. With its strong performance, combined with good fuel mileage (17 city, 21 highway, King Cab 2WD), the Frontier is a fitting truck for work or play.
"The Frontier offers the capability and styling of a full-size truck, off-road performance credentials, innovative versatility and interior comfort. It's designed and built for those who are active, love the outdoors and want to maximize their life experiences," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. "And, the new Crew Cab LE and PRO-4X Value Truck Packages for 2009 make an already a strong value an even easier way to enjoy a new Frontier."
The 2009 Frontier is offered in both King Cab and Crew Cab body styles and in 4x2 and 4x4 driveline configurations. The Frontier, like the previous generations, is assembled at Nissan's manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Bold Truck Styling and Innovative Versatility
The mid-size Nissan Frontier emulates many of Nissan Titan's full-size features, including its bold, expressive and adventurous exterior styling. Frontier utilizes signature Nissan truck themes, including an angled strut grille, large bumpers, short front and rear overhangs and large, stamped steel, geometric fender flares. For 2009, Frontier features a restyled front fascia/grille design and new headlight design. LE models offer new 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, SE models feature new 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and PRO-4X models receive new machine-finished 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Two new exterior colors are available for 2009 - Red Brick and Navy Blue.
Frontier again offers Crew Cab SE and LE Long Bed models. Measuring more than 13 inches longer than the Crew Cab's standard bed, the Long Bed models offer the roomy interior of the Crew Cab plus the usable bed space of the King Cab.
Frontier offers levels of innovation in areas where it matters most to truck owners - the bed. Both Frontier King Cab and Crew Cab models offer an available high-utility bed that includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner and the Utili-track(tm) tie-down system. The Utili-track system, first introduced on Titan, provides ultimate cargo hauling flexibility through the use of five special "C" cross-section rails mounted in the bed (two channels in the bed floor, and one each on the bed side rails and the bed header panel). Removable utility cleats slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attaching points for securing cargo.
In addition to the tie-down cleats, a full range of accessories is offered for use with the channel system, including bed dividers, sliding cargo trays and modular storage units.
New Frontier PRO-4X Off-Road Model
Frontier's all-new PRO-4X trim offers drivers outstanding off-road flexibility, pairing Frontier's already impressive list of standard equipment features with the PRO-4X's off-road performance enhancements.
The PRO-4X features Bilstein(r) off-road high-pressure shock absorbers, additional skid plates on the oil pan and transfer case, an electronic rear differential locker, 2- or 4-wheel limited-slip (ABLS) and unique machine-finished 16-inch aluminum-alloy off-road wheels with large BFGoodrich P265/75R16 Rugged Trail tires.
Inside, the PRO-4X receives styling cues that differentiate it from the rest of the Frontier lineup including leather-appointed red-stitched shifter knob (M/T only) and steering wheel, chrome accent ring around the white-faced meter gauges and trip computer. The PRO-4X Value Truck Package (Crew Cab) adds unique black leather-appointed front seats with red stitching, along with 8-way power driver's seat, 4-way power passenger's seat, heated front seats, dual heated outside mirrors and rear fold-down center armrest.
PRO-4X King Cab models receive a factory-applied spray-on bedliner, bed rail caps, Utili-track channel system and four adjustable tie-down cleats (standard on Crew Cab). All PRO-4Xs feature body-colored grille and bumpers, outside mirrors and door handles and fog lamps. Added comfort and convenience features include cruise control, remote keyless entry power windows and door locks and dual power outside mirrors.
Multi-Flex, High-Use Interior
Just as the high-utility bed offers Frontier owners an exceptional level of flexibility and utility, Frontier's interior features outstanding functionality combined with comfort and intelligent design. Both Frontier King Cab and Crew Cab feature large rear doors (rear hinged on King Cab) for easy access to the rear seating and cargo areas.
The Frontier King Cab features flip-up rear seats and both cab styles offer excellent cab storage and flexibility. Removable storage boxes are tucked beneath the rear seats, while the front passenger seat folds flat for added load carrying capacity (not available on leather-trimmed models). A dual glove box with lock, damper and lamp, center console storage, one-liter bottle storage integrated into the front doors and a multitude of cupholders and power points are standard. Frontier Crew Cab also offers an available leather-appointed interior and available tilt and sliding moonroof.
Power for an Active Lifestyle
The heart and soul of the Frontier is its rugged F-Alpha platform. Starting with a full-size, fully boxed ladder frame, the F-Alpha platform provides a rugged foundation on which to build. Constructed of high tensile-strength steel, which is 90 percent stronger and 22 percent lighter than conventional steel, the platform improves structural rigidity for rock-solid performance on- and off- road.
Frontier's long 125.9-inch wheelbase helps enhance ride comfort and stability, while the overall length of 205.5 inches (King Cab and Crew Cab Regular Bed) is a perfect "activity size" for buyers who don't need a true full-size pickup.
The 2009 Frontier shares its suspension layout and many component designs with the Titan, including its all-steel double-wishbone front suspension and solid axle rear suspension with overslung leaf springs and a long suspension stroke for optimized off-road dynamics.
Frontier provides exceptional acceleration, towing capacity and all-around off-roading ability, due in large measure to its powerful engine - a 4.0-liter DOHC V6 producing 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. The 4.0-liter DOHC V6 is based on the award-winning Nissan VQ engine series used in the 350Z, Maxima, Altima, Murano and Quest, but is specifically tuned for the unique demands of truck use. Besides smooth torque delivery, the V6 offers excellent fuel efficiency and smooth operation.
The 4.0-liter V6 design includes a Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS), Nissan variable Induction Control System (NICS), silent timing chain, microfinished camshaft and crankshaft surfaces, Teflon(r)-coated pistons, resin intake manifold, forged crankshaft, digital knock control system, high capacity muffler, lightweight aluminum block and cylinder heads and 105,000-mile spark plugs.
The Frontier V6 is assembled at Nissan's advanced engine production facility in Decherd, Tenn., which also produces Titan's 5.6-liter V8.
An advanced 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine, with 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft torque, is also available on the base Frontier King Cab 4x2 model.
For 2009, Frontier is again offered with a choice of transmissions - a smooth 5-speed automatic, a 6-speed manual or 5-speed manual transmission (King Cab 4-cylinder models). Frontier 4x4 models include a shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive system with 2WD/4H/4LO modes operated by an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. An advanced off-road traction system is available with 4x4 models. It includes a 4-wheel limited slip system, which helps transfer power to the drive wheels with more grip on low traction surfaces.
The available Hill Descent Control feature allows slow hill descent without the constant application of the brake pedal. Hill Descent Control must be engaged by the driver (via a switch) and is available only when the transfer case is engaged in 4H or 4LO (it works in both forward and reverse). It can be activated at speeds up to 21 mph in 4H and 15 mph in 4LO.
Hill Start Assist allows the driver to stop on an incline, release the brake pedal and not roll back for up to two seconds while the driver moves their foot to the accelerator for a smooth, controlled start. HSA is available on 4x4 models in 2WD, 4H and 4LO. HSA is designed for rugged, low-speed off-road driving situations.
All key underbody hardware is tucked up to the frame rails for a minimum 8.9 inches (4x4) or 8.6 inches (4x2) of running ground clearance on XE, SE, PRO-4X and LE models. Every 2009 Frontier also offers good approach and departure angles for exceptional off-road capability.
Other Frontier driveline components include engine-speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and standard 4-wheel disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). Frontier is offered with a range of available wheels and tires, including 16-inch off road style wheels with rugged P265/75R16 white-letter tires and 18-inch wheels with P265/60R18 tires.
Frontier's maximum towing capacity is rated at up to 6,500 pounds (maximum, when properly equipped).
Advanced Safety Systems, A Variety of Models and Packages
The 2009 Frontier includes a long list of safety equipment, including Zone Body construction with front and rear crumple zones, Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (which includes dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and a front occupant classification sensor), 3-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Also offered are supplemental front seat side-impact air bags and available supplemental curtain air bags for side impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers, 3-point seat belts for all rear seat occupants, including center position (Crew Cab) and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchor system (Crew Cab).
The 2009 Nissan Frontier King Cab is available in five well-equipped models: Frontier XE (4x2, 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual transmission only); Frontier SE I4 (4x2, 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission); Frontier SE V6 (4x2 or 4x4, 4.0-liter V6, 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission); Frontier LE (4x2 or 4x4, 4.0-liter V6, 5-speed automatic transmission); and PRO-4X (4.0-liter V6, 4x2 and 4x4, 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission).
The 2009 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab is offered in SE, LE and PRO-4X models, in regular or Long Bed body styles, each offered with a standard 4.0-liter V6 and a choice of 4x4 or 4x2 drivelines. Frontier Crew Cab SE models are offered with either 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmissions, while Crew Cab LE and PRO-4X models are available with the 5-speed automatic transmission only.
Available options and packages include the XE Preferred Package, SE Power Package, Value Truck Package (SE, LE and PRO-4X only), Moonroof Package (Crew Cab only), Side & Curtain Air Bag Package, Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS), Technology Package and Traction Package (4x4 AT only).