The compact truck segment makes for interesting conversation, especially within the North American marketplace when discussing offerings from automakers aside from the ‘Detroit Three.’ For the better part of sixty years, after trucks began mass-production, they were viewed as utilitarian in nature. As such, a certain amount of ‘rugged versatility’ was prioritized ahead of anything else. Size mattered, and thus, Ford, GM, and Dodge ruled supreme and compact offerings weren’t viewed as being ‘trucks.’
Fast forward to the 80’s and trucks were no longer exclusive to farmers, laborers, and livery. With more and more homeowners engaging in improvement projects, trucks were evolving into family vehicles; and with each passing year, they became more stylized and better equipped in terms of amenities. And while full-size truck offerings reigned supreme, it didn’t discourage any attempts to cater to growing environmental pressures. This provided a fitting challenge for the likes of Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all of whom had entered the North American truck game to carve out their market share.
For the Nissan Frontier, 2005 marked its transition from compact upstart to confident mid-sized variant of Nissan’s full-size Titan range. Rivaling the Toyota Tacoma, the Frontier still enjoys a continual evolution. For anyone in search of a used Nissan Frontier for sale, let’s take a closer look at the last fourteen years to see how it has evolved.
After nearly a decade in existence, the 2005 model year marked the hard start for the 2nd generation (D40) Frontier. Aesthetically, it introduced a styling that moved away from traditional truck design, pairing the comfort of an extended cab with the modest utility of a shorter bed. The result was a modern, sporty feel which (although divisive among traditionalists) proved alluring to a new demographic of truck buyers. But rest assured, the modest utility didn’t mean the Frontier wasn’t a workhorse; quite the contrary.
Standard equipment included a 4.0-liter V6 mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Channeling 250 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, the Frontier was served up in either rear or four-wheel drive configurations. With a 6500 lb towing capacity, the Frontier was a confident performer empowering many to get the job done (whatever that job was).
By 2007 Nissan would introduce new configurations including the crew cab and longer bed, which would help to bridge the gap to some of the design updates that would follow. As with most every automaker, updates around this time reflected a desire to reduce emissions and create offerings with a less impactful ecological footprint; the frontier was no exception. But depending on the configuration selected, a conservative 15-19.5 (combined) mpg rating fell in line with the rest of the segment.
With over a decade under its belt, the Frontier had established itself as a leader in the midsize segment. Offering off-road athleticism, considerable power, and premium hardware, it was a no-compromise offering that owned its own niche in terms of market share.
The Frontier would enjoy a welcome facelift for the 2010 model year. Such alterations would include updated front fascia, downplaying the v-shape of the grille, updating the headlight design and creating a more rounded aesthetic. Also, some of the ‘innovative’ design choices made four years prior were discarded, while maintaining an on-brand feel. In fact, the Frontier now read clearly as the ‘younger sibling’ of the Titan (which is certainly not a bad thing)
Despite the inarguable appeal of Nissan’s decision to restore a more classic truck aesthetic, there wasn’t a lot of pressure to change much else. Retaining the 4.0-liter V6 as the standard engine, the Frontier enjoyed a slight (11 point) increase in both horsepower and torque rating. This earned it a best-in-segment standing in terms of horsepower, torque, towing and payload specifications. Also offered up was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder variant for the King Cab 4×2 model, which channeled a more modest 152 hp and 171 lb-ft. That said, the V6 would remain the enduring favorite.
“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.”
Which cues what is arguably the most notable event of 2009: the introduction of the off-road PRO-4X Frontier. Flaunting Bilstein high-pressure shock absorbers, additional skid plates to protect the oil pan and transfer case, electronic rear-differential locker, 2-or-4 wheel limited-slip (ABLS and 16-inch alloy wheels with BF Goodrich Rugged Trail tires, the PRO-4X answered the call of off-road enthusiasts everywhere.
But even without the performance package, the Frontier would continue to score high marks enduring as a favorite among upstart offerings (even if it wouldn’t see much in the way of major refreshes).