There’s little doubt the Frontier pickup has needed a redesign for quite a while. Thankfully, 2023 was the year Nissan decided the Frontier would get its new skin – and from my point of view – it was worth the wait.
The all-new Frontier Pro-4X combines several aggressive off-road elements from the beefy treads and 17-inch rims to the available skid plates and tow hooks up front. This Frontier has just enough modern style built into its exterior to make it look contemporary, like the wrapped LED headlights built into the beefy front fenders.
The exterior doesn’t overdo the use of chiseled lines in its side panels, though the bulging hood is very “in your face” and the bold, black grille from big brother Titan elevates the impact of the Frontier as it’s coming at you.
As a mid-size pickup, the Frontier is just a tad smaller in every way compared to a full-size pickup. My tester featured a 5-foot bed with a spray-in bedliner. Nissan’s Utilatrack cargo management system with four adjustable tie-downs, and another 110-power outlet in the bed, provides excellent flexibility for transporting cargo or weekend camping.
The 2023 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X offers 310 horsepower and 281-pound feet of torque from its 3.8-liter direct-injection V6 engine. This is best-in-class horsepower for the mid-size Frontier pickup.
Mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, the Pro-4X signifies this Frontier has some serious four-wheel off-road chops. Featuring Bilstein shocks, shift-on-the-fly, and skid plates under the truck in the front and rear, this is a pickup that does great on the pavement, but even better on the trail.
The Frontier Pro-4X weighs in at 4,800 pounds and like most pickups, it is not the most aerodynamic thing on the road. Offering four-wheel drive capability in addition to towing up to 6,200 pounds, Frontier’s fuel economy is better than average at 17 city and 22 highway.
The interior includes one of the largest touchscreens in the class, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless smartphone charging. Safety also is a big selling point for the Frontier, featuring class-exclusive Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and available Nissan Safety Shield 360.
The big 9-inch infotainment screen is ground zero for operating navigation, Bluetooth, voice recognition, Wi-Fi hotspot, Sirius XM, Apple CarPlay, Android and the wildly impressive 10-speaker Fender audio system. The Frontier is fully connected and capable of providing real-time sports scores, traffic, weather, fuel prices, movie times and parking options.
My Frontier tester featured the NASA-designed zero gravity leather seats (with power adjustments) that are not just incredibly comfortable but heated (as is the steering wheel) for those chilly fall mornings. The seating position is great, slightly higher than most crossovers but not as high as a full-size pickup.
The rear seating is bench-style, and as expected, it is a bit tight on legroom, though headroom is fine, and the seats are firm and accommodating. Rear passengers have access to their own USB and USB-C ports, an outlet for a 110 plug-in, as well as a fold-down armrest with cup holders. The back seat will fold up to create more utility space for storage on the floor.
The driver has everything they need within clear view and easy reach. Big analog gauges and a driver info center are easily operated from controls built into the steering wheel. convenience is built in everywhere in the Frontier cabin, from the wireless charger, oversized cupholders and grab handles on the center console to the USB and USB-C ports.
The Frontier’s four-wheel-drive selector is within easy reach of the driver, while to the left is a selector for tow mode.
Nissan calls the Frontier a “right-sized” pickup, I’d have to agree, as it was fun getting around town and easy to park. This is a mid-size pickup with a distinct style, impressive off-road capability, and a pleasant manner on the pavement.
If you opt for the Frontier in Pro-4X trim, you will have a great daily driver that can go wherever you point it. The beefy off-road tires are loud but necessary, and the thrill from the V6 power is a true selling point. My tester was loaded with amenities and landed at $46,380, which may feel high, but it reflects everything this pickup offered.
• John Stein is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. He has more than 25 years of experience driving, testing and writing about the automotive industry, its latest innovations and vehicles.