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A gray 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X is shown parked off-road after visiting a used Nissan dealer.

The Nissan Frontier: The Midsize Alternative to a Full-Size Truck

Full-size pickup trucks are popular for good reason; they’re powerful, versatile, and can handle everything from errand runs around town to camping trips out in the wilderness. But they can get pretty pricey, and many drivers will never have a real need for their sky-high towing and hauling capacities. If you’ve been browsing your local used Nissan dealer and have found that the full-size Titan isn’t going to be a good fit for you, you can always turn to the midsize Frontier.

While a midsize truck won’t give you quite as much power to work with, that doesn’t mean you should ignore this segment. There are plenty of advantages that draw drivers to these smaller trucks, and the Frontier is a great example of how useful a midsize pickup can be. Let’s take a look at exactly what this model—and this segment overall—has to offer…

Accommodating Size

Of course, a midsize truck is smaller than a full-size truck. The Titan is a foot and a half longer than the Frontier, over half a foot wider, and about four inches taller. That does mean that the Frontier has less legroom for second-row passengers, less space in the cargo box, and less towing and hauling capability, but its smaller size isn’t all bad news, as there are plenty of pros that balance out the cons.

The Frontier has a smaller turning radius than the Titan, giving it more freedom to maneuver in tight spaces. That can come in handy in everyday situations like navigating a crowded parking lot or parking on a small driveway, and it can also be an asset for off-roading since trails can be unpredictable and there are obstacles like trees and boulders that need to be nimbly navigated around.

That smaller size also makes the Frontier more lightweight, which is good news for your fuel economy. While the Titan has a fuel economy rating of 17 MPG city/highway combined and up to 21 MPG on the highway, the Frontier gets 20 MPG overall and up to 24 MPG on the highway. If you tend to rack up a lot of miles, that can add up over time and save you money in the long run.

A gray 2022 Nissan Frontier is shown parked on grass.

Accessible Price

Speaking of saving money, midsize trucks are also less expensive than full-size models. The reason why is a no-brainer: they require fewer materials to build and tend to have less powerful engines. So, while the Nissan Titan has a starting price of $46,040, the Frontier starts at a much more accessible $30,030—and that’s for a new 2024 model; used Frontiers can be had for even less and are likely to still have plenty of life left in them. That’s one thing that both full-size and midsize trucks have in common: they’re built to withstand heavy use and last for the long haul, so shopping used is low-risk, high-reward.

If you have a tight budget, then the difference in sticker price might be the only thing that makes it possible for you to buy a truck at all. But drivers with a little extra cash on hand can also take advantage of the lower price of a midsize truck by upgrading to a higher trim level than they could afford on a full-size model. Instead of having a high towing capacity and a sparse cabin, you could shave a few pounds of the former to get a plethora of comfort and convenience features that will keep you and your passengers happy on longer drives.

If you don’t care about a lush interior, you could always opt for off-road prowess. The rugged Pro-4X trim of the Frontier—with a 4×4 drivetrain—has a starting price of $39,560, which is significantly more than the base Frontier but also quite a bit less expensive than the base Titan. Features like off-road performance shocks and tough underbody skid plates let you veer off the beaten path safely and comfortably, so you can have all the outdoor adventures you like and easily explore rural areas that aren’t covered pavement.

Why the Frontier?

We’ve compared the Frontier to the Titan to see how midsize trucks stack up against their full-size counterparts, but how does the Frontier fare among other midsize models? Well, one thing we like about the Frontier is its base powertrain. No matter the trim level, every Frontier comes standard with a powerful V6 engine. For the 2024 model year, this 3.8L V6 engine produces 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, allowing the Frontier to tow up to 6,640 lbs and haul up to 1,620 lbs of payload.

Many midsize trucks come standard with a four-cylinder engine instead of a V6. The Ford Ranger has a 270-hp base I-4 engine (though a V6 is available at a markup), the Chevy Colorado has an inline-four that produces 237 hp, and the Toyota Tacoma comes standard with a four-cylinder engine that produces just 228 hp. Even other trucks that come standard with V6 engines don’t hit the same stats as the Frontier: the Jeep Gladiator’s base V6 produces 285 hp while the Honda Ridgeline’s produces 280 hp.

Despite having this powerful engine standard across the lineup, the Frontier is one of the more affordable midsize models. For the 2024 model year, its $30,030 MSRP is a bit higher than the $29,500 starting price of the base trim of the humble Chevy Colorado but less than what you can expect to pay for the most basic version of the Toyota Tacoma ($31,500), Ford Ranger ($32,670), or Honda Ridgeline ($39,750). Even in a category of trucks known for their affordability, the Frontier is a low-cost option.

With both a low starting price and a powerful base engine, we think the Frontier offers the best of both worlds in what midsize trucks can provide. While they’ll never be as powerful as their full-size counterparts, midsize trucks should be able to hold their own and handle a solid amount of towing and hauling, but this power shouldn’t come at too high a price tag, or the segment loses one of its biggest advantages over full-size pickups. By offering a balance between price and power, the Frontier is a great example of what a midsize pickup can offer: capability on a budget.

A silver 2020 Nissan Frontier is shown towing a trailer near a lake.

Midsize Doesn’t Mean a ‘Mid’ Truck

Full-size trucks may be able to boast larger cabins and bigger towing and hauling capabilities, but bigger isn’t always better. Plenty of drivers only ever need to tow a few thousand pounds, and for them, it can pay off to have a more affordable model that leaves them with more money in their pocket. On top of that, midsize trucks are easier to maneuver just about anywhere, from tight city streets to twisting trails.

The Frontier is a great example of a midsize truck that has a lot to offer. With its standard V6 engine, it can tow and haul plenty of cargo. It has a solid lineup of trim levels, ranging from basic entry-level options to ones with an abundance of standard features—and even the most high-end Frontier is affordable compared to the basic trims of full-size trucks like the Titan. Unless you have a seriously heavy trailer that you just can’t leave behind, opting for a midsize truck like the Frontier would be a savvy move.