Most pickup trucks seem to struggle to deliver the best of both worlds, as the majority serve as practical vehicles but are often needed for weekend and family use. The 2009 Nissan Frontier strikes a reasonable balance between a midsize pickup and a family SUV. It comes in a number of different bed sizes, trim levels, and body styles, so you can easily find a configuration to fit your needs.
Nissan offers this truck with a King Cab, or extended cab, and a Crew Cab, which has a four-door configuration. The King Cab comes with a standard six-foot bed, while the Crew Cab comes with a five-foot bed, but it also offers the option of a six-foot bed.
The Nissan Frontier has a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder capable of producing 152 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque or a more substantial four-liter V-6 that produces 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. If you choose the Crew Cab, then the V-6 remains your only choice of engine. Four-cylinder models come with a standard five-speed manual transmission, but buyers can upgrade to a five-speed automatic on the SE model. The V-6 engine comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic transmission, depending on the configuration and trim level.
Body styles: midsize pickup truck
Engines: 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 4.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: Nissan Frontier XE, Nissan Frontier SE, Nissan Frontier LE, Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
The 2009 Nissan Frontier has minor updates, including new headlights, a new instrument panel, and a new front fascia. Nissan also offers leather seating and the PRO-4X trim level, which replaces the previous Nismo offroad package.
For a midsize pickup truck, the exterior of the Nissan Frontier is quite refined, and the body-colored grille, mirrors, bumpers, and door handles give it a monochromatic appearance. The XE model represents the entry-level Frontier, and it only comes as a King Cab. It contains a four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. This is very much a working truck, as it comes with very few features. If you do a lot of offloading, then the POR-4X is your best option, as it includes offroad tires, 16-inch alloy wheels, a locking rear differential, underside skid plates, offroad shocks, splash guards, fog lights, and a spray-on bed liner.
The Nissan Frontier King Cab has small, reverse opening doors that give passengers access to the fold up back seats. The Crew Cab has more conventional rear doors and a much larger rear cabin. Overall, the cabin has a good design and the controls sit exactly where you need them to be, while the seats remain comfortable on long rides. However, the interior contains a plethora of plastic that detracts from the rest of the design.
Interior touches include white faced gauges and red stitched leather on the manual gearshift knob and the steering wheel. The new PRO-4X is especially attractive with custom seating. All models have very comfortable bucket seats in the front, and the Crew Cab offers adequate leg room in the back, but the back seat of the King Cab model is a little cramped.
Performance & Handling
Those seeking a light-duty pickup truck will be happy enough with the economical four-cylinder models. However, anyone who needs something with a little more clout should choose the V-6, which suffices for most jobs. This pickup truck performs surprisingly well, with precise steering and a smooth ride. The Nissan Frontier can travel offroad, since it has a maximum ground clearance of 10.1 inches and good suspension.
The Frontier includes anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) as standard equipment, but side airbags and side curtain airbags remain an optional extra. Stability control can be added to the LE and PRO-4X models.
The Nissan Frontier performs well in government crash tests, earning four out of five stars for driver protection in front collisions and the top rating for side-impact collisions. The King Cab earns five stars for front passenger protection, while the Crew Cab receives four stars. Highway safety tests give the Frontier the best possible rating for frontal impact, but it only achieves a marginal rating for side-impact protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Nissan Frontier XE: 17/22 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier SE: 17/22 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier SE V-6: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier LE: 17/22 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier LE V-6: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Frontier PRO-4X: 14/19 mpg city/highway
- Comfortable ride
- Good ground clearance
You Won't Like
- Plastic cabin interior
- Lack of regular cab body style
A great choice for a compact but versatile pickup
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