Reviews

2011 Nissan Frontier Driving Impressions


While the Nissan Frontier makes the Titan feel huge, we must say the Frontier never felt too small. On the road, the 261 hp V6 engine has very strong acceleration. The five-speed automatic transmission shifts in and out of fifth gear frequently, even at fairly low speeds during casual driving, but always smoothly and often invisibly. A manual mode would be useful, but isn't available.

The 281 pound-feet of torque isn't fully there at lower RPMs, so you do have to put your foot down to find all the power. Unfortunately, that takes its toll on gas mileage. With four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, the Nissan Frontier is EPA-rated at 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway.

Those looking for improved fuel economy might opt for the four-cylinder engine with manual transmission, which earns an EPA rating of 19 mpg city/23 mpg highway. It's available in a nicely equipped SE King Cab, so this might be a choice for a buyer who doesn't need a whole lot of power.

Handling on the Nissan Frontier is good, tight, and never flabby, doesn't wallow. On the highway, it didn't feel like we were driving a big truck. Driving off-road on fire trails was no problem, thanks in part to good, supportive seats. On gravel roads, however, riding as a passenger in a 4WD King Cab, we found things a bit rough.

On a closed off-road course, we used 4WD in its low range to get over some ridges and ruts, and found that it allowed higher speeds than some other systems; but also found that it wasn't really needed except in the most extreme situations, because 4WD in high range is good. The Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist systems were also useful.

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