New pickup truck

Nissan strikes a new path with 2022 Frontier

The Frontier is all-new for 2022.

Nissan

The model that was the first compact truck in the U.S. is all-new again. Marking the sixth generation of the cult-like nameplate, the Datsun 220 Hardbody that arrived on these shores in 1959, Nissan has redesigned its Frontier. The new truck hits the streets and trails with new looks outside and in, an improved powertrain and chassis, upgraded safety and technology, and an updated collection of elements that enhance its ability for work and play. The rugged and utilitarian model has sold more than 4 million units and created a segment that is one of the most popular in the market. Its remake is timely as America's truck market heats up and, although appreciated for its stalwart capability, the previous generation Frontier lacked some of the latest technology and amenities that today's truck buyers expect.

The 2022 Frontier goes on sale late summer and comes in 2WD and 4WD versions and S, SV, SV LWB, PRO-4X trims; the new PRO-X desert runner trim comes in 2WD only. The S trim in 4 x 2 with a King Cab starts at $27,840, while the S Crew Cab version begins at $29,340. The truck is available with 5 ft. and 6 ft. beds, it now has a taller bed height and seven percent more volume, plus standard trailer sway control. It can tow up to 6,720 lbs. and has a maximum payload of 1,620 lbs.


2022 Nissan FrontierWhile the powertrain is the same as before, almost every other part of the Frontier has been redesigned.Nissan


Notable is the pickup's styling changes. It's been designed with a more aggressive overall look, with sculpted and blocky cues, large fender flares and a high bodyside. It sports a larger and wider, machined-out grille and newly-styled lights with LEDs and daytime running lights in the front and LEDs in the rear. The back-end sports embedded tow hooks on 4WD models. The newest model is 5 inches longer, with the same wheelbase, and claims a best-in-class approach angle, a benefit for backcountry forays. Of note is an integrated bumper step and the built-in spoiler and interlocking handle on the tailgate and increased bed illumination. Among the options is Kicker Audio's portable tailgate set-up.

The recrafted cabin is more upscale than the previous truck. It sports Zero Gravity front and rear outboard seats, has the largest-in-class 9-in. color touchscreen and largest-in-class 7-in. driver assist display, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smart phone integration, wireless charging, Wi-Fi hotspot availability and up to four USB ports. A new center console and shifter, new premium accents and trims, along with eight beverage holders and more stowage compartments, including under-seat storage in the rear, make the interior more user-friendly.

A single powertrain motivates the truck that has been re-engineered with 93 percent new parts; the 3.8-liter V6 gets 310 hp. /281 lb.-ft of torque and is shifted through a 9-speed automatic, with a 99-percent wider gear range. Nissan says it has best-in-class horsepower against competitors Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and the Ford Ranger. The electronically-controlled 4WD system has 4H and 4L settings, as well as 2WD and Hill Descent Control, when four-wheel drive is engaged. Hill Start Assist is standard.


2022 Nissan FrontierThe 2022 Frontier's interior is more upscale and tech-forward than before. Nissan


A cadre of automotive testers put the new midsizer through a one-day evaluation of nearly 150 miles motoring on a collection of roadways near Provo, Utah, as well as along a lengthy off-road track with high-mountain hill climbs that had sections of rocky and rutted terrain. I drove a pre-production version of the PRO-4X that stickered at $44,315, including destination and delivery (the base price is $37, 250). This toughened trim has a host of off-road goodies that includes larger underbody skid plates, an electronic rear differential, beefed-up Bilstein shocks; 17-in. beadlock style alloy wheels with aggressive all-terrain tires and an array of badging that enunciates its identity. Options on the model I drove included Nissan's Technology Package, the PRO Convenience Package and the PRO Premium Package that brought add-ons ranging from heated outside mirrors, steering wheel and seats to bed upgrades with a spray-in bedliner to the Utili-track system bed system for carrying a wide variety of items to power outlets and a trailer hitch. Other notable items were the Fender premium audio with 10-speakers, leather seats and an Intelligent Around View Monitor with Off-Road Mode.

Throughout my test drive, the Frontier had great power on tap and seamless shifting as well as strong linear braking. Nissan says the new hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering and upgrades to the steering gear and stabilizer bar will make drivers more confident with driving maneuvers overall and when towing. I found it a bit heavy-handed, especially in slow-speed maneuvers, however, I like the weight and size of the steering wheel and it was competent at all speeds. I was impressed by the upgraded suspension set-up with bigger front and rear stabilizer mounts, plus new urethane jounce bumpers and hydraulic cab mounts that reduce road vibration. Also of note is the quietness of the cabin as a result of 41 new parts applied to reduce wind, engine and road noise.


2022 Nissan FrontierThere's plenty of room for passengers and gear.Nissan


The truck performed well off-road with good angles of approach and departure, 8.5 inches of ground clearance and efficient low-range gearing. Unlike many other systems today, the Frontier does not have terrain programs, but it handled steep climbs and rutted track with ease.

Nissan says the Frontier is "right-sized" for garages and urban life. And, with 80 available options, buyers can set it up for their own adventures and personal needs. With a base work truck available and pricing that starts below many others in its class, it likely to be a homerun.

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The Ascent got updated styling and fresh tech.

Subaru

Subaru's lineup is full of useful, adventure-ready vehicles, but most are not accommodating for full-size families. The Ascent solved that issue for the automaker a few years ago, and has been a popular family option since. It got a mild update for 2023 with a facelift and new tech. The Ascent comes in five trims: Base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring. It's expected to go on sale in fall 2022.

The Subaru comes with a new front fascia design that adds a new grille and aggressive styling up front. Lower air ducts help improve aerodynamics, and in higher trims the components come with chrome trim. The SUV's C-shaped taillights got a refresh as well, and now feature a sharper shape to better match the vehicle's overall styling.

2023 Subaru AscentThe new front fascia design is more aggressive than before. Subaru

The Ascent's powertrain remains in place, which is a turbocharged 2.54-liter four-cylinder making 260 horsepower. It sends power to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission that offers a simulated eight-speed manual shifting mode. Subaru's X-Mode driving mode comes standard, which alters throttle response and other vehicle behavior to maintain traction in slippery conditions. Torque vectoring, which allows the vehicle to shift torque between wheels that need it most, also comes standard.

A new Onyx Edition trim joins the Ascent line for 2022. It brings a standard 11.6-inch touchscreen with navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, power seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The base Ascent comes with features such as 18-inch wheels, USB inputs, tri-zone automatic climate controls, three rows of seating, and a whopping 19 cupholders. Subaru also offers an optional Cabin Connect system, which allows the driver or front passenger to communicate to people behind them through the stereo using a front-cabin-mounted microphone.

2023 Subaru AscentThe Ascent's interior is available with great tech, such as an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Subaru

Subaru EyeSight safety equipment comes standard with every Ascent. The system is improved for 2023 with a wider field of vision and new software. A new wide-angle camera joins EyeSight's existing two-camera setup to provide better pedestrian and cyclist detection when approaching intersections. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and lane change assist are available.

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The 2023 Crosstrek starts at $23,645.

Subaru

Subaru is one of the best at listening to its customers' needs, and the Crosstrek is a great example of that mindset. It's a useful vehicle with plenty of interior space and enough ground clearance to take its passengers well of the beaten path. Today, Subaru announced pricing for the 2023 Crosstrek and Crosstrek Hybrid. The duo will go on sale this summer.

Subaru CrosstrekThe Crosstrek's cabin is adventure-ready and packed with great tech. Subaru

The standard Crosstrek starts at $23,645 before destination and the Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $36,845. Five trims are available for the standard model, including Base, Premium, a new Special Edition, Sport, and Limited. The Hybrid comes in a single trim level. All Crosstrek variants get all-wheel drive with active torque vectoring and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

The Base, Premium, and Special Edition trims come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 152 horsepower. The Sport and Limited trims get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 182 horsepower. Most models come with a continuously variable transmission, but the Base and Premium trims come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Crosstrek Hybrid comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with two electric motors. The plug-in system can deliver 17 miles of electric range.

Subaru CrosstrekThe Crosstrek delivers 8.7 inches of ground clearance.Subaru

True to Subaru form, the Crosstrek comes with a full suite of advanced driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure alerts, adaptive cruise, and more. These features are only available for CVT-equipped models. The Limited trim and the Crosstrek Hybrid add automatic high beams, reverse automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

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