2022 Nissan Frontier debuts in the US – small truck replaces ancient D40, same platform, modern looks/kit

Nissan has unveiled the new 2022 Nissan Frontier midsize truck, which is set to go on sale in the US this summer. This bold-looking new truck replaces the D40 Frontier (we know it as the “Mother Trucker” Navara), which has been in the US since 2005. No typo there, 2005. North America did not get our current D23 Navara NP300, which was facelifted late last year, so this update is much needed there.

The platform has been retained, but the Frontier body is all new. As with most trucks, design is mostly focused on the face, and the Frontier features a square front end with a big grille (Frontier name above the new Nissan logo) and chiseled hood, framed by “precision interlocking” headlights.

The strong face is combined with big arches and lights with a “machined, structural look” at the back – the two thick LED bars appearing to clamp to the body sides. New body colours Tactical Green Metallic and Boulder Grey Pearl sound very macho (there are seven other colours).

For an even more aggressive look, the specially-equipped 4WD-only Frontier Pro-4X and new-for-2022 2WD-only Frontier Pro-X feature LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and Lava Red grille accents. The truck shown here is the Pro-4X in Boulder Grey Pearl.

While the proven underpinnings are unchanged, Nissan says that it tuned the powertrain, steering and suspension with a focus on the demands of US truck owners. The standard 310 hp/381 Nm 3.8 litre direct injection V6 engine, which was new for 2020 with 93% new or redesigned parts, still offers best-in-class horsepower.

The petrol engine is mated to nine-speed automatic transmission. With an expanded lock-up area, a new high-response electro-hydraulic system, long input shaft and a 99% wider gear range (versus the previous Frontier five-speed gearbox), the new 9AT is claimed to offer quick, crisp and direct shift response throughout the entire gear range.

Nissan also retuned the Frontier’s hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering gear to provide better on-centre feel, reducing driver fatigue on long drives. Steering gear ratio has been increased by 16%, which means faster response with less steering effort.

In the suspension department, new hydraulic cab mounts reduce road vibration by 80%, while new urethane jounce bumpers – a class exclusive – provide improved damping for a smoother ride. In addition to a larger front stabiliser bar, a rear stabiliser bar reduces body roll and increases traction.

Variants with 4WD feature a shift-on-the-fly system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes operated by an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. 4WD models can be had with a four-wheel limited-slip system, which helps transfer power to the drive wheels with more grip on low traction surfaces. Hill Start Assist is standard across the board, while Hill Descent Control is 4WD-only.

The top Pro-4X adds on an electronic locking differential, Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and underbody skid plates.

On the utility side, the 2022 Frontier is available with a bed that includes a factory-applied spray-on bedliner and Utili-track Channel System. The latter improves cargo hauling flexibility through the use of three special ‘C’ cross-section rails mounted in the bed. In addition, four fixed bed tie-down hooks help secure gear of various shapes and sizes.

A new dampened tailgate assist is standard on all models. Inside the bed, there are two standard stop lamp lights mounted on the back of the cab and two new available LED cargo bed lights. The Frontier’s towing capacity is rated at up to 3,048 kg. New for 2022 is standard Trailer Sway Control, which detects sway and automatically applies the brakes.

Like the skin, the interior is also new, although the layout might be familiar to those coming from the D40. Of course, there’s no shortage of latest equipment, including the largest-in-class 9.0-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is standard on all variants. Also biggest-in-class is the standard 7.0-inch Advanced Driver Assist Display meter panel. New trim, finishers and meter accents are inspired by adventure gear.

Addressing common customer needs, the Frontier provides four litres of centre console storage – almost double that of most mid-size pickups – as well as 5.7 litres of rear-door-pocket storage and 6.5 litres of front-door-pocket storage. There’s also a storage area at the top of the dash.

Added insulation, improved rear carpet structure and new front-door acoustic laminated glass all reduce interior road noise. Nissan’s comfy “Zero Gravity” seats are standard. Themes include Charcoal, Sandstone and the Pro-4X/Pro-X’s Charcoal with Lava Red seen here.

As for kit, this 2022 truck includes everything available in the market now, naturally. There’s wireless smartphone charging and NissanConnect with WiFi Hotspot, two front USB ports (one Type-A, one Type-C), two front 12V outlets and Siri Eyes Free. Two 110V outlets with 400-watt capability – one in the rear, one in the bed – are available, along with a Fender audio system with nine speakers.

The Frontier also welcomes Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode. Nissan was of course the first carmaker to offer AVM, which creates a birds’ eye view by stitching together feed from four cameras. The new Off-Road Mode functions while the vehicle is moving forward at slow speeds and the 4WD system is in 4LO – it’s like having a spotter outside.

Available safety technology starts with Nissan Safety Shield 360, featuring Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and class-exclusive Rear Automatic Braking. Also class-exclusive are Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Easy Fill Tire Alert.

Other features include Intelligent Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Driver Alertness, Rear Door Alert and eight airbags as standard.

Finally, variants. One can choose between King Cab or Crew Cab. A five-foot bed is standard on all Crew Cab models, with a six-foot bed optional on Crew Cab SV Long Wheelbase models. A six-foot bed is also standard on all King Cabs. The bodies can be paired with 2WD or 4WD, and then there’s the top Crew Cab Pro-4X (4WD only) and new-for-2022 Pro-X (2WD only). The latter has the same looks as the Pro-4X but not the 4WD-related content such as electronic locking differential and underbody skid plates.

More than 85 Nissan and Nismo accessories are available for the new Frontier, including sports bar, off-road step rails with removable steps, Nismo suspension kit, off-road auxiliary lighting, ladder racks and tents. More accessories for this US-assembled truck are in development.

What do you think of the US market’s 2022 Frontier? This or the 2021 Navara facelift for ASEAN?

GALLERY: 2022 Nissan Frontier

GALLERY: 2021 Nissan Navara facelift for ASEAN

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