The Frontier model line consists of S, SV, SL, Desert Runner and PRO-4X models. Two engines are available: an economical 152-horsepower 2.5L inline four and a 261-horsepower 4.0L V6. With either engine, a manual gearbox is the base transmission (5-speed with 4-cylinder; 6-speed with the V6), but in either case a 5-speed automatic is optional. The Desert Runner trim comes only with the automatic. The V6 is ideal for hauling and towing, thanks to the V6 engine's plentiful torque and strong, smooth character. When properly equipped, the Frontier can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Built on a sturdy platform derived from the larger Titan pickup, the Frontier is perhaps better suited to off-roading or heavier hauling than other compacts. For the trail, Frontier 4x4 models include Hill Descent Control, which helps moderate speed down steep slopes when off-roading, while Hill Start Assist helps the driver get a smooth start on an incline. Additionally, rear-wheel drive models get an Active Brake Limited-Slip system that helps gain traction and stability.
While front seat accommodations are just as spacious in either body style of the Frontier, King Cab models -- with their rear-hinged back doors -- include flip-up rear seats that would work fine doing temporary duty for kids, while Crew Cab models have adult-size back-seat space and easy entry and exit. King Cab models come with removable storage boxes under the seats, while all models have center-console storage plus a locking dual glovebox. Crew Cab models can be had with either a standard-length bed -- for the best maneuverability -- or a Long Bed for more cargo capacity.
Because it shares the same underlying design and frame structure with the larger Titan, the Frontier doesn't break a sweat when heavy hauling is in order. The suspension--a double wishbone design in front and overslung leaf springs in back--is also built for serious work without sacrificing too much ride quality. Critical components, like brake lines and other underbody hardware, are tucked inside frame rails, and 4x4 models get at least 8.9 inches of ground clearance as well as approach and departure angles that will lessen the chances of scrapes and dents when off-roading.
Frontier S, SV, SL, Desert Runner and PRO-4X models cover a wide span of prices, equipment, and needs. The Desert Runner includes 16-inch Off-Road design alloy wheels, Bilstein off-road shocks, unique seat cloth with embroidered Frontier logos on the front seats, fog lights and special badging. The PRO-4X model is kitted out with Bilstein high-pressure off-road shocks, skid plates, a 4-wheel limited-slip system, and tough off-road wheels and tires, plus keyless entry, cruise control, power windows and locks and a red-stitched leather interior with leather trim and white-faced gauges. Top Crew Cab PRO-4X trims also get a power driver's seat moonroof, heated front seats and a roof rack with crossbars.