Overview

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Overview (Final Score: B)
The 2015 Frontier offers a timeless, robust quality that its competitors lack. With rough-and-tumble looks, a wide range of trim options, and more, the Frontier remains relevant despite its age.

In the 1990s, midsize pickup trucks were all the rage. Ten years before that, even smaller trucks were popular consumer options. In the 1980s, small trucks like the Nissan Hardbody and the Toyota SR5 dominated the roads of many towns and cities. By the turn of the 21st century, though, most of the domestic competition in the small truck market had left and only two holdouts, Nissan and Toyota, remained. Somewhere about that time, the current-generation of these trucks was introduced and many began to believe that we'd seen the final version of both.

Now, over a decade later, we might have been right except for the introduction of a new midsize truck from General Motors. Despite its lagging behind the competition in terms of when it was last overhauled, the 2015 Nissan Frontier remains a mainstay consumer choice in today's truck market.

We do expect that Nissan will introduce a new Frontier very soon, of course, but until then, the 2015 model is just fine with us.

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What We Loved About the 2015 Nissan Frontier


  • Great looks and solid design dynamics.

  • Smart upgrades to the technology offerings in the truck.

  • Trim levels and options available for every buyer's needs.


 

What We Didn't Love About the 2015 Nissan Frontier


  • Lackluster four-cylinder suitable only for in-town and fleet use.

  • Could be more fuel efficient.

  • Interior design and appeal has become dated.


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Exterior View (9/10 relative to market)
Most midsize pickup trucks fall into one of two design categories: smaller versions of a full-sized truck or uniquely sporty little trucks. The 2015 Frontier falls squarely in the latter category, having the most rugged, sporty designs in the segment. Wide fender flares, a strong grille, and rakish cab design all give the Frontier a muscular, fast-paced appeal. Trim levels with four-wheel drive and offroad additions, such as the Pro-4X we drove, include beefy tires and taller suspension as well. The optional roof rails are a robust statement added to all of this.

Taken all together, from base to premium trim points, the 2015 Frontier is a great-looking pickup truck with a youthful exuberance that defies its long-in-the-tooth reality. Despite having seen no updates for a decade or more, the 2015 Nissan Frontier manages to look fresh and sporty compared to others offered in the segment.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (6/10)
The 2015 Nissan Frontier is basic inside, even at the higher trims. Materials quality is good, however, and gives an overall impression that it would take your daily beating without complaint. Seating is comfortable in the front, with the two buckets having plenty of bolster and support, even at the base level. Moving up in trims replaces the robust cloth with well-tooled faux leather (leatherette).

Ergonomics in the Frontier are about average for the segment. Even the taller offroad packages have an easy entry and egress up front. Ride quality is also good, even when the truck is carrying a load. Noise levels can be high on the freeway, but none of the entries in the midsize truck segment are much better.

The back jumper seats in the King Cab option are suitable only for very occasional use or by small children in safety seats. At that, you can expect those kids to be kicking the back of your seat routinely. The Crew Cab models with larger doors and more room in the proper back seats are better. Adults will still be uncomfortable for long rides, but the extra storage and added legroom will be welcome.

Cargo options like integrated, sliding tie-downs and a bed extender that slides along those rails to allow the tailgate to be utilized as part of the cargo bed make the Frontier one of the more user-friendly pickup trucks on the market when it comes to carrying loads.

Technology (8/10)
At the base level, technology in the 2015 Frontier is sparse. Moving up the trim ladder adds more, of course, with the mid- and top-level SV, Pro-4X with the Luxury package, and the equivalent SL trims having all of the expected tech options like Bluetooth, navigation, and a touchscreen included.

One of the major upgrades for the Frontier was Nissan's addition of the NissanConnect and Mobile Apps system to the SV trim level. The NissanConnect system itself saw upgrades across the Nissan lineup this year, making it more smartphone-ready and integrated. Although others in the midsize truck segment may have more to offer technologically, the Frontier does cover the general expectations one might have for the price point. It comes in an easy-to-use package to boot.

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Fuel Economy (7/10)
The 2015 Nissan Frontier is offered with both a four- and a six-cylinder engine. Each of these have a manual and automatic transmission option. The EPA rates the 2.5-liter four-cylinder with its manual transmission at 21 mpg combined (19 in the city, 23 on the highway) and with its automatic transmission at 19 mpg combined (17/23).

In two-wheel drive powertrains, the Frontier's V6 is rated at 19 mpg combined (17/22) and 18 mpg combined (16/22) with the manual and automatic respectively. In 4WD, the Frontier achieves 18 mpg combined (16/21) with the manual transmission and 17 mpg combined (15/21) with the automatic.

Our time in the Frontier Pro-4X, a 4WD model with an automatic transmission, returned a 14 mpg average, though we were largely off pavement in our driving habits. The 2015 Frontier's EPA ratings are below par when compared to other midsize trucks such as the Toyota Tacoma and the new Chevrolet Colorado. This is largely a reflection of the Frontier's aging design.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)
Previous generations of the Nissan Frontier have done relatively well in reliability studies and given that most of the Frontier's main components (chassis, drivetrain, body) have seen little change in the past decade, this translates to that reliability trend continuing.

Reliability estimates from groups like J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer Reports agree with this assessment, giving the 2015 Frontier an above-average reliability expectation for the segment. The truck has been on the market for nearly a year, entering sales as a 2015 model in July of 2014, and so far has not been the subject of any government safety recalls.

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Safety (8/10)
Safety is difficult to judge with the 2015 Nissan Frontier as it has not undergone extensive crash testing (as of this writing) from either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The IIHS does give the 2015 Frontier a top score of "Good" for its moderate-overlap front test and roof strength test results and a second-best "Acceptable" for the Frontier's rear crash protection. The NHTSA gives the 2015 Frontier a three star rating (out of five) for rollover crashes.

Performance (9/10)
In a midsize pickup truck like the 2015 Nissan Frontier, performance is as much about capability as it is about accelerating up the freeway on-ramp or passing on the highway. With the Frontier, no matter the engine choice, most will have little trouble achieving all of those goals.

The base model Frontier S and SV trims come standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission in rear-wheel drive. This engine produces 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is also available for this four-cylinder option, but four-wheel drive is not. This little engine produces enough get-up and haul that the majority of small truck buyers will find it works well for what they need and at a price that even fleet buyers will think is phenomenal.

All 2015 Frontier Crew Cab models, no matter the trim point, and all four-wheel drive equipped Frontier trucks utilize a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. This engine is coupled to either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, depending on buyer choice or trim. This powertrain gives the Nissan Frontier excellent power and capability, including towing for up to 6,500 pounds versus the 3,500 pound towing capacity of the four-cylinder-equipped Frontier.

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Pricing and Value (9/10)
The 2015 Frontier has a wide price margin which comes from its varied cab styles and different market focuses between trims. The base model 2015 Frontier S King Cab starts at $17,990 before delivery and a near fully-loaded 2015 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X like the one we drove reaches into the $36,000 range without hesitation. This wide spread in pricing reflects the sales of the Frontier as well, which split between fleet and utilitarian owner sales (those who work with their trucks) at the lower end and outdoors enthusiasts and weekend explorers at the higher end.

This means that as far as pickup truck buyers go, the Frontier covers all the bases in the midsize segment. Chances are that the price you'll pay and the return you'll get, will result in good value; no matter your intended focus for the Frontier you've packaged. We would recommend that anyone not needing a fuel-sipping base model truck opt for the six-cylinder upgrade. You can do so without sacrificing the control a manual transmission offers, if you're inclined to have one, and will not lose much fuel efficiency in the bargain.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (64/80, 80%)
The 2015 Nissan Frontier does well in its market, considering one of its two competitors is brand new to the arena and the other is the segment's best-seller. The Toyota Tacoma offers a more well-rounded package, but has fewer options for personalization or specialization when compared to the Frontier. The Chevrolet Colorado, on the other hand, lacks both the sporty looks and robust offroad option the Frontier has, but delivers far better fuel economy in return.

All together, though, the 2015 Frontier is a well-made, fun little pickup truck with a lot of personality. From the fleet-ready base model to the top-line offroad good times of the Pro-4X, there's something for everyone in the Nissan Frontier.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Crew Cab - 4WD
SV 4WD Crew Cab SWB Manual SV *Late Avail* V6 4WD
S 4WD Crew Cab SWB Manual S V6 4WD 25400
S 4WD Crew Cab SWB Auto S V6 4WD 26450
SV 4WD Crew Cab SWB Auto SV V6 4WD 27630
SV 4WD Crew Cab SWB Manual SV V6 4WD 28560
PRO-4X 4WD Crew Cab SWB Manual PRO-4X V6 4WD 31510
PRO-4X 4WD Crew Cab SWB Auto PRO-4X V6 4WD 32560
SL 4WD Crew Cab SWB Auto SL V6 4WD 34010
SV 4WD Crew Cab LWB Auto SV V6 4WD 28050
SL 4WD Crew Cab LWB Auto SL V6 4WD 35260
Crew Cab - RWD
SV 2WD Crew Cab SWB Manual SV *Late Avail* V6 RWD
S 2WD Crew Cab SWB Manual S V6 RWD 22700
S 2WD Crew Cab SWB Auto S V6 RWD 23750
SV 2WD Crew Cab SWB Auto SV V6 RWD 24630
Desert Runner 2WD Crew Cab SWB Auto Desert Runner V6 RWD 25510
SV 2WD Crew Cab SWB Manual SV V6 RWD 25860
SL 2WD Crew Cab SWB Auto SL V6 RWD 31360
SV 2WD Crew Cab LWB Auto SV V6 RWD 25350
SL 2WD Crew Cab LWB Auto SL V6 RWD 32560
Extended Cab - 4WD
SV 4WD King Cab V6 Manual SV *Late Avail* V6 4WD
SV 4WD King Cab Auto SV V6 4WD 26310
SV 4WD King Cab Manual SV V6 4WD 27240
PRO-4X 4WD King Cab Manual PRO-4X V6 4WD 30550
PRO-4X 4WD King Cab Auto PRO-4X V6 4WD 31750
Extended Cab - RWD
SV 2WD King Cab V6 Manual SV *Late Avail* V6 RWD
S 2WD King Cab I4 Manual S 4 Cylinder RWD 17990
S 2WD King Cab I4 Auto S 4 Cylinder RWD 20660
SV 2WD King Cab I4 Manual SV 4 Cylinder RWD 21970
SV 2WD King Cab I4 Auto SV 4 Cylinder RWD 23020
SV 2WD King Cab V6 Auto SV V6 RWD 23610
Desert Runner 2WD King Cab V6 Auto Desert Runner V6 RWD 24190
SV 2WD King Cab V6 Manual SV V6 RWD 24540

Comparison of 2015 Nissan Frontier with Similar Cars

2015 Nissan Frontier MSRP Invoice
2015 Nissan Frontier $17,990 $0
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2015 Ford F-150 $26,030 $24,142 2015 Nissan Frontier VS 2015 Ford F-150
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $26,520 $25,459 2015 Nissan Frontier VS 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
2015 GMC Sierra 1500 $27,020 $25,939 2015 Nissan Frontier VS 2015 GMC Sierra 1500
2015 Toyota Tacoma $20,965 $19,654 2015 Nissan Frontier VS 2015 Toyota Tacoma

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2015 Nissan Frontier ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2015 Nissan Frontier rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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