I realized this week that summer is quickly flying by and my daughter will soon be back in the classroom and piano lessons. So, I took the day off and made quick plans to travel to a local state park where we could hike, eat lunch at the inn, relax in the nature center, and swim in the pool. Fortunately, I have a pickup ready for adventure: The 2023 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X.
To be honest, this is far more pickup than we need. We barely go anywhere more challenging than a rutted gravel road to and from a covered bridge, but the truck is dressed with skid plates, bug shield, and aggressive off-road tires on black 17” wheels. The Frontier, which was recently redesigned, is already a pretty handsome truck with its wide stance and bulging fenders, but looks especially fetching with red trimmed NISSAN badges, welded footsteps, bed bars, and spray-in bedliner. Look close to notice the built-in trailer hitch and electrical connections. It’s ready to get busy.
Standard Frontiers have pretty comfy interiors, but I like the styling flourishes and extra luxe in the PRO-4X Crew Cab. Check the orange stitching on the seats, orange metallic rings on the doors, and orange stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Adding comfort, front leather seats and steering wheel are heated. We also enjoyed dual-zone automatic climate control, power sunroof, and crisp 10-speaker Fender audio system from which we could hear every strum as if at The Ryman.
Of course my daughter, who can’t travel two miles without screens, connected easily via wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi, and in-console charging. I’m a fan of the built-in touchscreen with easy tabs for audio, phone, and navigation plus actual knobs for volume and tuning. Given the Frontier is carrying precious cargo, it’s comforting to know adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and rear cross path detection with auto brake stand by to keep us safe.
This is a pretty serious truck, so if you’re just looking for a crossover with a bed, go check out the Ford Maverick or Hyundai Santa Cruz. This one feels much tougher riding on Bilstein off-road shocks, slinging a solid rear axle, and returning heavy steering. It takes a country mile to turn it around, so tight trails are not its playground. An electronically locking rear differential and two-speed transfer case amp its off-road capability though. Fortunately, the same thick tires that enhance off-road capability soak up potholes. Just understand the solid rear axle will dance if the road is rough enough.
Beyond gravel roads to the bridge and through the park, we spend most of our time on two-lane backroads and wide open Interstate. Either way, it’s up to the task with a 3.8-liter V6 engine delivering 310 horsepower and 281 lb.-ft. of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission that always keeps the engine in the right rev range whether stomping down to pass a tractor or gently accelerating up a hill above legal speeds. Fuel economy is not terrible at 17/22-MPG city/highway.
Days are long, but summers are short. It’s always nice to spend quality time with my daughter…and convenient the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X was in the driveway. It would be fun to get it a little farther off-road, but the beefy truck served us well. Frontiers start at $29,370, but came to $46,380 as-tested. Competitors include the Ford Ranger Tremor, Jeep Gladiator, Toyota Tacoma Trail Special Edition, Chevy Colorado Trail Boss, and GMC Canyon AT4.
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