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The Nissan Frontier has not made many changes over the last decade-plus. Despite this, it has managed to remain reasonably popular among drivers after a midsize pickup. It does the things you would want a truck to do quite well. Still, this current generation debuted in 2005. Although a few attempts have been made to stay current, there are definite areas that the Frontier can improve. Is the 2021 Nissan Frontier worth buying? Here are some of the pros and cons.
What's New for 2021?
Nissan plans on unveiling a brand-new Frontier in 2022. For a while, it seemed that there would be no 2021 model at all. That is not the case, but there will be no changes made to the vehicle in 2021. It continues to use the brand-new engine that was introduced in 2020 and is expected to be part of the all-new 2022 model. Other things that Nissan has teased for the 2022 model include soft-touch surfaces, an improved infotainment system, and Nissan Safety Shield 360.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Nissan Frontier – The Pros
1. Strong Numbers from Standard Engine
The new engine introduced last year helped breathe some life into the Frontier. A 3.8L V6, this engine allows the truck to create a satisfying 310-horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. When properly equipped, this truck can tow up to 6,720 pounds. This is a respectable number for a midsize pickup truck, although you should know that several rivals can do better if this is a top priority for you.
2. Clever Small Item Storage
If you value storage space inside your cabin as much as in your truck's bed, the Frontier may be perfect for you. The multi-level console allows you to keep a variety of things, such as your phone and drink, easily accessible. There is also a standard dual glove compartment, which comes in handy for keeping organized. Select models are designed to let the rear seats flip-up for even more storage with removable storage trays. These trays give you the opportunity to hide valuables and keep your cabin clutter-free.
3. Standard NissanConnect Technology
The 2021 Frontier has many standard remote features. NissanConnect also allows for music streaming, door-to-door navigation, and many other compatible mobile apps to be displayed on the touchscreen. Although Apple CarPlay is not available, Siri EyesFree comes standard. It gives you the ability to send texts, make calls, and check events on your calendar hands-free.
4. Pro-4X is Highly Capable Off-Road
One area that the 2021 Frontier really shines is off-road capability, especially if you go with the Pro-4X model. This model comes exclusively with four-wheel drive and adds extras like skid plates and all-terrain tires. You will also find a front tow hook. The entire design of the Frontier helps increase its capability, including wide flared wheel arches. Compared to front-wheel-drive models, all four-wheel-drive models have an extra inch of ground clearance. Those same models also have hill descent control.
5. Utili-Track Channel System
The Frontier is available in two different bed sizes. It is also available with what Nissan calls its utili-track channel system. Models with this have five channels, four running lengthwise and one running width-wise. These channels, along with four heavy-duty cleats, allow you to confidently secure your cargo in the bed of the Frontier. The utili-track channel system is standard for the Pro-4X model.
6. Easy Driving Dynamics
Most critics agree that the Frontier has pleasing driving dynamics. While it may not be the most athletic option on the market, it does provide accurate steering and remains firmly planted while cornering. You may also be surprised by how smooth the ride is inside the Frontier, thanks to its well-designed suspension that absorbs bumps in the road with ease.
7. Smooth Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission
Along with giving the Frontier a new transmission in 2020, Nissan gave it a new nine-speed automatic transmission. Previously, it was offered with either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. Experts agree that the nine-speed has done wonders for how smoothly the Frontier accelerates, further adding to the pleasing experience behind the wheel of this truck.
8. Customizable with Available Packages
You can get a Frontier that matches your style by adding one of the two available packages in 2021. The Special Edition Package consists of a satin-chrome grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, a body-colored number. It also adds a trip computer. There is also the Midnight Edition Package, which will give your Frontier a gloss-black grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, and special badging. This package also adds all-season tires. Both of these packages can only be added to SV crew cab models of the 2021 Frontier.
9. Strong List of Standard Equipment on Top Trim
On top of being off-road-ready, the top Pro-4X is well-equipped with convenience and comfort features. You will find a 10-speaker premium audio system from Rockford Fosgate, a 5.8-inch touchscreen, and navigation when it comes to technology features. To keep you comfortable, there are also heated front seats and leather upholstery. Rounding out the upgrades here is a power moonroof, rear parking sensors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
10. Impressive Reliability Prediction
J.D. Power has given the Nissan Frontier a predicted reliability score of 4.5 out of five stars. This is very impressive and a major selling point for the vehicle. Drivers who want a reliable truck that they will not have to worry about for years to come should put the Frontier on top of their list.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Nissan Frontier – The Cons
1. Fuel Economy is Lacking
While the new transmission has increased smoothness, it has not helped the fuel economy numbers much. With front-wheel drive, expect 18mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway. Four-wheel-drive models get 17mpg city and 23mpg highway. You can find other midsize trucks that do better, although not by much. This factor alone is unlikely to be a deal-breaker.
2. Subpar Cabin Materials
Although Nissan has made attempts to keep the Frontier modern, very little effort has been made when it comes to what is inside the cabin. You will find quite a bit of plastic throughout. It also looks very dated. If this is an issue for you, consider waiting to see what the redesigned 2022 model has in store.
3. Crew Cab Rear Seats Lack Space
The 2021 Frontier is available in two cab styles. Neither of them is going to work well if you frequently have back passengers. Even the larger crew cab lacks rear legroom. As a result, the Frontier makes a better work truck than a family vehicle.
4. No Smartphone Integration
Although NissanConnect is useful, it cannot completely erase the fact that neither Android Auto nor Apple CarPlay is available for the 2021 Frontier. Many rivals have both as a standard feature on all models. It will be interesting to see if this issue is remedied for the 2022 model.
5. No Advanced Safety Features
Unless you consider a rearview camera to be a driver aid, the Frontier comes with none in 2021. Worse still, the only driver assistance feature you can add is a set of rear parking sensors. This is almost unheard of for new vehicles, even trucks. One would imagine that this is an issue that will be addressed next year.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Nissan Frontier vs. 2021 Honda Ridgeline
The Ridgeline is widely considered one of the most well-rounded midsize pickup trucks currently out there. It offers a variety of high-tech safety features, a smooth ride, and better gas mileage than the Frontier. The seats offer more space and cushioning as well. On the other hand, its maximum towing capacity is lower, and there is no off-road version of the Ridgeline. Ultimately, the better call depends on how you plan on using your new truck.
2021 Nissan Frontier vs. 2021 Jeep Gladiator
In many ways, the Gladiator is in a category of its own. It has a removable roof and excellent off-roading capabilities, just like the Wrangler SUV it is based on. Critics have pointed out that the cabin is far from modern, however. That said, the Gladiator feels more current and cutting-edge than the incredibly dated Frontier. If the price is a deciding factor, know that the Frontier is far more affordable than the Gladiator.
If you are looking for a truck that performs well but does not have much in the way of bells and whistles, the 2021 Nissan Frontier is worth considering. However, many drivers will be better off waiting to see what Nissan has planned for this truck in 2022. Hopefully, the cabin will be completely redesigned and the technology features will be more plentiful. If the Frontier starts offering smartphone integration and advanced driver assistance features, it will be hard to beat.
• Why buy a 2019 Nissan Frontier? w/ pros vs cons