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Old Frontier vs New Frontier: How Nissan's 2022 truck compares to the last-gen model

The Nissan Frontier has been redesigned for 2022.,

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The long-awaited next-generation Nissan Frontier is almost here. As other midsize trucks found themselves caught up in the battle over off-road prowess, aesthetics, and capability, the Frontier has continued on as a steady and perfectly fine, budget-friendly model for the last decade. Most of that is about to change.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier was introduced today showing off beefier looks, a robust engine, and modern design inside and out. Below, we've taken a closer look at the new truck and compared it to the outgoing model.

Exterior

2022 2020 Nissan Frontier front side

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The changes to the Frontier from generation to generation are drastic. The new model features Titan-inspired design while the old model was more like the original Rogue in its aesthetic. Nissan describes the new truck and "thick" and "rugged".

The new Frontier is five inches longer than the old, with most of that coming up front. The cab is mostly unchanged but the bed is taller and the belt line has been raised to shine light at just the right angle to make those who see it think of it as beefy.

Nissan's hallmark V-Motion grille is nowhere to be found on this new model. Instead we have a honeycomb grille with Nissan's new logo front and center. Shown first in the PRO-4X grade, the grille is blacked out with Lava Red accents on the logo.

The last-gen Frontier was only available with halogen headlights. At least on the PRO-4X, LED headlights, daytime running lights, and fog lights are standard.

The 2020 Frontier is available in paint colors including Cayenne Red Metallic, Magnetic Black Pearl, Gun Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Glacier White, and Arctic Blue Metallic. A new paint palette will be available on the new model. New Tactical Green Metallic and Boulder Gray Pearl join Glacier White, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Red Alert, Cardinal Red Metallic TriCoat, Deep Blue Pearl and Baja Storm for 2022.

Models

2021 vs 2022 Nissan Frontier pro-4x

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2021 Frontier is sold in S, SV, and PRO-4X variants. Other Nissan have SL, Platinum, and Platinum Reserve grades. For the 2022 model year, Nissan will continue the trend, offering the Frontier in just three trim levels: S, SV, and PRO-4X. The PRO-4X grade comes with a unique equipment list that makes it especially capable off road.

Frame

The frame is the same. Nissan wishes to remind you that it has continued to update the frame over the course of the last-generation Frontier's life. The chassis is the same too. However, the powertrain, steering, and suspension have been freshly tuned.

Nissan relays that new hydraulic cab mounts reduce road vibration by 80 percent over the outgoing generation, while class-exclusive urethane jounce bumpers provide improved damping for a smoother ride.

Bed

A 5-foot bed is standard on all Crew Cab models, with a 6-foot bed optional on Crew Cab SV Long Wheelbase models. A 6-foot bed is also standard on all King Cab models.

Powertrain

2020 Nissan Frontier Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

When the 2020 Frontier debuted, it was said that the 3.8-liter V6 under its hood was the engine of the next-gen truck. Nissan didn't lie. The 2022 Frontier has the same engine, which is rated at 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque. It's the only engine Nissan will sell in the truck, making it he most powerful base engine you can get in a midsize pickup.

The engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Nissan says, "With an expanded lockup area, a new high-response electro-hydraulic system, long input shaft and a 99 percent wider gear range (versus the previous Frontier five-speed design), the transmission offers quick, crisp and direct shift response throughout the entire gear range."

Drivetrain

A two- or four-wheel drive Frontier was the option in the last-generation model and it will be the same with the new generation. For the first time, for the 2022 model year the Frontier PRO-4X will be offered with two-wheel drive.

Four-wheel drive 2022 Frontiers receive a shift-on-the-fly system with 2WD/4HI/4LO modes that is operated by an electronically controlled part-time transfer case. This is unchanged from the 2021 model year.

2022 Frontier PRO-4X has an electronic locking differential, the same as the 2021 model. Other 4WD models get a four-wheel limited-slip system. Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control are standard on all four-wheel drive models.

The PRO-4X model also has Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and underbody skid plates.

Towing

Like the last-generation, the new Frontier's towing capacity is rated at up to 6,720 pounds (maximum, when properly equipped). The 2022 models get standard Trailer Sway Control, which is a fresh addition to the equipment roster.

Interior Design

2021 vs 2022 Nissan Frontier interior

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The new Frontier isn't just new outside. Its inside has received an impressive redo as well. Let's face it, the 2021 model is just o-l-d looking. The new one is fresh and funky with one exception. More on that further down.

There is new trim, finishers, and meter accents in the cab that are inspired by adventure gear. The PRO-4X brings Lava Red tones inside where they brighten up an otherwise black cabin.

There's 4.0 liters of center console storage (that's pretty spacious - nearly double what most midsize pickups offer), 5.7 liters of rear-door-pocket storage and 6.5 liters of front-door-pocket storage. Nissan says that there's also storage on the top of the instrument panel.

Nissan has also reduced the noise, vibration, and harshness passed on to passengers by giving the 2022 Frontier improved rear carpet structure, front-door acoustic laminated glass, and standard Zero Gravity seats.

Infotainment

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2021 Nissan Frontier comes standard with a 7-inch infotainment touch screen and has an available 5.8-inch NissanConnect touch screen. A 9-inch infotainment touch screen is standard on all 2022 models. That's the largest screen in the truck's class. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also standard on the new truck.

The instrument panel of the 2021 Frontier was fully analog. In front of the driver of the 2022 model is a largest-in-class 7-inch Advanced Driver Assist Display offers configurable information. Some dials are still analog in the new truck.

Wireless smartphone charging and a Wi-Fi hot spot were not available in the 2021 model but are in the 2022, but only on PRO-4X models.

All 2022 Frontiers get two front USB ports (one Type-A, one Type-C) - the 2021 had just one Type-A port up front. There's still two 12-volt power outlets and Siri Eyes Free. Two new 110-volt outlets are available on the Frontier SV and PRO-4X. Nissan is offering a Fender Premium Audio system with nine-speakers on those models as well. A Fender system was not available on the 2021 truck.

The 2022 Frontier is the first application of Nissan Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection and Off-Road Mode. The new Off-Road Mode, which is exclusively available on Frontier PRO-4X, functions while the vehicle is moving forward at slow speeds and the 4WD system is in 4LO, ideal for negotiating tight trails without having an external spotter to avoid potential body scrapes or dents.

Safety

One of the biggest changes to Frontier aside from its appearance is its safety technology. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard on the Frontier, as it is on many other Nissan models. It includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, rear seat occupant alert, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Easy Fill Tire Alert are also standard.

Adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and driver alertness technology are all available.

None of these were standard or available on the old truck.

Accessories

2021 Nissan Frontier NISMO

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

More than 85 Nissan and NISMO accessories are approved for the 2022 Frontier, including sports bar, off-road step rails with removable steps, NISMO suspension kit, off-road auxiliary lighting, ladder racks, and tents. More accessories are in development, and additional details will be available closer to the vehicle's on-sale date.

Nissan developed a range of accessories for the 2021 truck, most of which carry over to the new.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier goes on sale this summer.

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The Nissan Pathfinder is just at home on the trial as it is on the road.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The message is about making choices and, how the road taken made all the difference. Often in life and on the road, we have to make one choice. Take one road. No turning back. I thought of this poem on my recent test drive in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder in the hinterlands of Montana, when I could take two different roads—paved and dirt—and that made all the difference!

Nissan has redesigned and retooled its fifth-generation Pathfinder instilling greater latitude for buyers who want to travel both types of roads and expand their adventure footprint. After seven decades of off-road development, 35 years in the business of selling Pathfinders, and with more than 1.8 million sold in the U.S., this Japanese automaker has moved the needle with a ground-up revision of the previous-gen model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a capable off-roader.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The full-sized sport utility is available in four trims (S, SV, SL and Platinum) and two- and four-wheel drive versions; Nissan expects that nearly 60 percent of buyers will choose four-wheel drive. The Pathfinder is in a segment that has grown larger each year as more families want a vehicle for around-town, school and playdate runs and for weekend getaways with traction technology that allows travel in the backcountry and good towing capability. Direct competitors are the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

A day-long drive of approximately 150 miles on tarmac and over a variety of dirt roads and tracks provided the opportunity to assess the Pathfinder's updates. A late-spring snowstorm added slickness to all the road surfaces in the region and allowed the Pathfinder to show off its traction capabilities at both slow and higher speeds and with lane change and emergency-braking maneuvers, when towing. I concentrated my evaluation on the augmented hardware and software designed to enhance the crossover's capabilities for backcountry travel and towing.

What I found most notable over every road surface was the comfortable ride and responsive handling that come from a collection of upgrades—and, in particular, as a result of the following: the gearing on the new nine-speed transmission, with paddle shifters for personal and more precise shifting for sport driving and slowing over rough terrain; the new terrain mode system that's engineered for different driving conditions; the four-wheel drive system that moves torque more quickly to avoid wheel slip; the improved suspension system; and new tires with a larger contact patch and more aggressive tread pattern, among other changes.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Pathfinder provided sure-footed motoring and comfort over uneven surfaces. Its 7.1 inches of ground clearance easily maneuvered over the small obstacles on the trail and hill descent control took the reigns without hesitation for steeper and longer downhills on traction-compromised surfaces.

I was also impressed with the Pathfinder's towing competence and appreciated the standard trailer sway control onboard all trims. It offered notably strong, mannered acceleration from a standing start and excellent straight-line braking without porpoising for either exercise.

The new 2022 Pathfinder brings off-road and towing attributes that are important to families who are seeking to spend time in the backcountry for days trips and longer and for overlanding in terrain that doesn't require a true off-road vehicle with a low range. It's will appeal to buyers who want don't want to have to choose only one road.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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