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2016 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Long Term Report 2 of 4

Jun 6, 2016
Photographers: Jason Gonderman, Monica Gonderman
Since introducing the ’16 Nissan Frontier to our long-term fleet, we’ve managed to amass a slightly higher-than-average 9,793 miles during the course of six months. We’re happy to report that for this installment, the Frontier has been completely trouble-free. The mystery rattle that we reported last period was found to be nothing more than a loose tie-down cleat on the Utili-track system in the bed. Over the course of time they vibrate loose and need periodic tightening, which is not unexpected. And our only visit to the dealer was for the regularly scheduled 5,000-mile oil change and tire rotation service.
]Since El Niño fizzled and temperatures remained mild, we spent a decent number of weekends during this quarter doing what the Pro-4X was built for: off-roading. Opting for the Pro-4X package got us upgraded Bilstein monotube shock absorbers, an electronic locking rear differential, mildly aggressive Hankook Dynapro tires, and some skidplating. Interestingly, if you opt for the five-speed automatic transmission instead of the six-speed manual, then hill descent control and hill start assist are added as well. This part makes no sense to us, as hill start assist is a valuable function on trucks built with manual transmissions and not so much on automatics, but we digress.
Photo 2/11   |   002 2016 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X
Once the fluorescent office lights fade away into a distant memory and pavement turns to dust, the Frontier really gets to show off what it’s made for. The Bilstein shocks soak up the humps and bumps with ease, and the six-speed manual transmission transforms you into a would-be rally car driver, if even just for an hour or two. Shutting off the vehicle’s traction control adds another level of juvenile fun, if you’re up for such a thing. Unlike the Frontier’s competition from the GM twins, it never feels like you’re abusing the truck or in danger of damaging any low-hanging bits. Instead, the Frontier aligns itself much closer to the Toyota Tacoma when it comes to off-road prowess, and that’s really saying something.
If we had one wish, however, it would be that Nissan make the electric rear locker available to us in any drive mode, not just four-wheel low. There are plenty of situations where having the rear axle locked in either two-wheel drive or four-wheel high would be beneficial—or just plain fun, however you want to look at it. We also noticed that while climbing steeper-than-appropriate hills in low range that the tires often had more grip than the clutch, leading to quite the embarrassing smoke show. Oops.
Photo 3/11   |   004 2016 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X
During these desert excursions, we also took the opportunity to load up the bed with gear and toys, allowing us to test the entire array of available tie down features. While we love the Utili-track system and continue to applaud Nissan for its invention and execution, we would also love to see a set of tie down points lower in the corners of the bed. We ran into a few situations where the Utili-track was just a little to high to properly secure our cargo. We also added the optional sliding bed extender when we ordered the truck. Unfortunately, to date we’ve found little use for it. With a fullsize off-road motorcycle in the bed the angled corners of the bed extender don’t allow for enough space for its use. If it conformed to the full size of the tailgate, like some models do, it would be much more useful. The Lo Pro QT soft tonneau cover from TruXedo that we added is still working phenomenally. It lets a little dust in when off-road, but it has remained, for the most part, waterproof.
So far, we remain extremely pleased with the performance of our ’16 Nissan Frontier. It’s impressive that a platform of this age can remain competitive with all of the newcomers in the midsize class. We look forward to another fun-filled six months with this peppy little pickup.
Photo 4/11   |   008 2016 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X
The Pro-4X package makes the Nissan Frontier a formidable off-road contender. With loads of power on tap, a do-it-yourself shifter, and smooth-riding Bilstein shocks, this truck will quickly turn any reasonable adult into a drooling adolescent in no time.
Photo 5/11   |   009 2016 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X
Speaking of power, under the hood lays the VQ40DE 4.0L V-6 engine. This engine, while still an older architecture than the other midsize trucks on the market currently sport, produces 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. With fuel economy touching the low 20s, we’re very pleased with the performance of the Frontier’s powertrain.
Photo 6/11   |   010 2016 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X
Even at only 5 feet in length, the Frontier’s bed is plenty big enough for all of the gear needed for a long weekend in the desert. Unfortunately, thanks to the shape of the optional bed extender, we weren’t able to use it to secure our cargo. Those with smaller motorcycles will have better luck.
Report: 2 of 4
Previous report(s): May/June 2016
Base price: $31,640
Price as tested: $33,240
Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 9,739
Miles since last report: 5,085
Average mpg (this report): 16.77
Test best tank (mpg): 20.52
Test worst tank (mpg): 14.49
Test Maintenance:
Oxygen sensor replaced at 1,500 miles.
5,000-mile service, oil change, and tire rotation
Test Problem Areas:
The unidentified occasional rattle has been identified as a loose tie-down cleat.
Logbook Quotes:
“Fuel economy is nearly right on the money of the EPA estimates, really can’t complain about that.”
“The crew-cab is a bit tight with an infant seat in the back. Luckily our passenger has short legs.”
“Shifting our own gears is still a blast. After six months and almost 10,000 miles, the novelty still hasn’t worn off.”
“Why on earth do the 12V outlets not work when the truck is off? At least give us one that does, Nissan! I hate having to leave the truck on to charge my phone.”
“We still love the navigation system, though the rerouting feature needs to be turned off in Los Angeles traffic.”

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