The Nissan Frontier is easily one of the oldest cars currently for sale on the market. Nissan is still offering the Frontier in its second generation (at least here in the U.S.), which was introduced all the way back in 2004. In those 15 years, Nissan has done very little to update or modify the Frontier beyond a face-lift in 2009, and the gradual adding of features. As you would expect, the current Nissan Frontier looks and feels a bit dated compared to the new Ford Ranger and the latest models of the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevrolet Colorado.
But the Frontier does have a huge advantage over those trucks: it’s very, very, very cheap.
I’m not speaking in hyperbole. The base price for a Frontier is just $20,000 with shipping, where the Colorado starts from $22,500 with shipping, and the Ranger and the Tacoma are both $25,000 and up. Even better, Nissan and their dealerships are famous for offering deep discounts and sales — so if you’re patient, you can actually get an even better deal. I’ve seen brand-new, base-level Frontier S models on sale for just over $16,000 at my local Nissan dealer within the past year. Sure, we’re talking about an incredibly basic truck, but that’s almost $10,000 less than the price of the most basic Ford Ranger XL.
So what do you get for spending the money on a Ranger XL over the Frontier S, besides a modern looking interior and exterior, a more powerful turbocharged engine and a fancy 10-speed automatic? The Ranger XL gets power locks and windows, satellite radio and a couple of USB ports — but if you’re looking for a truly basic truck, do you really need that stuff? The Frontier doesn’t bother with those luxuries at the lowest level so that you can have a truck for dirt cheap.
If you do want those niceties, the Frontier offers more stuff at higher trim levels, but it still remains significantly cheaper than its rivals. Even better, Nissan still gives you the option of a manual transmission at almost every trim level — and if you actually need horsepower to haul stuff, there’s a V6 available that can give you almost as much power as the Ford’s turbo four. It may be older than the universe at this point, but it’s reliable and simple.
The Nissan Frontier is still the small truck that people nostalgically remember small trucks to be, before the horsepower and technology wars reached this segment. It’s there to do its job without being flashy about it — and by not updating it Nissan has managed to keep the price of entry incredibly low. In fact, it’s low enough that it could delve into "third vehicle" territory for many people, who may need a truck just for runs to the dump or the occasional large load.
I hope Nissan continues to sell the Frontier in its current state, with minimal changes. Not everyone needs a ton of power or a dashboard that looks like it was designed in this decade — but some people definitely need a cheap truck that will meet their light-duty needs. The Nissan Frontier is that truck for the masses.