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The Good

The finely crafted 2010 Nissan Frontier delivers ample power, is light on its feet, tackles off-road and inclement conditions, and will keep you comfortable while doing all of this.

The Bad

Many optional 2010 Frontier features are lumped together into expensive packages, the rear seats in the King Cab are almost unusable for passengers, and there's no Regular Cap option.

The CarGurus View

With its excellent build quality, top-end performance, off-road capability, and innovative storage spaces, the 2010 Nissan Frontier is one of the best choices in the compact pickup class. Basically, the Frontier will provide whatever you need from a pickup.

At a Glance

Need a compact pickup truck that can do a little bit of everything? If so, take a long hard look at the 2010 Nissan Frontier. The Frontier is built like a rock, handles with agility and power, and has a wide range of trim options and packages.

The Frontier had a minor styling refresh in 2009 and remains essentially the same for 2010 with a few notable exceptions. Nissan added some much-needed safety features to the Frontier for 2010, including stability control, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags.

The Frontier is available with a King Cab (a.k.a. extended cab) or a Crew Cab (with four doors). The King comes standard with a 6-foot bed, while the Crew has a standard 5-foot bed, with the 6-footer available as an option.

The King Cab comes in five basic trim levels – XE (bare-bones base), SE (which shares a four-cylinder engine with the XE), SE V6, PRO-4X (the off-road specialist), and LE (top-end). The Crew Cab is available in three trim levels – SE V6, PRO-4X, and LE. The SE V6, PRO-4X, and LE trims are available with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.

XE trims come with a 152-horsepower four-cylinder engine, 15-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, and little else. The SE's additions include an AM/FM/CD stereo, air conditioning, a chrome front bumper, and a tilt steering wheel. The SE V6 delivers 261 horsepower and adds full power accessories, cruise control, a tow package, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The PRO-4X upgrades with off-road paraphernalia - a locking rear differential, Bilstein off-road shocks, underside skid plates, off-road tires – as well as a premium Rockford-Fosgate stereo with satellite radio capability, foglights, a trip computer, spray-on bedliner, and Nissan’s Utili-track cargo system. The LE trim shares many of these features with the PRO-4X, but swaps out the off-road goodies for 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, power driver’s seat, body-colored side molding, and tubular step rails.

Critics and consumers agree that the Frontier is one good-looking truck. With its brawny haunches, aggressive angled-strut grille, and overall athletic feel, the Frontier looks like a pickup stereotype, which is a good thing. It also looks like the baby brother of the Nissan Titan, which is also compliment.


As noted above, the Frontier offers two engines. The 2.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine that comes standard with the XE and SE King Cab produces 152 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 171 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Paired with a standard five-speed manual transmission, the four-cylinder gets 19 city/23 highway mpg. Paired with the optional five-speed automatic transmission, it gets 17/22 mpg. Frontiers with the four-cylinder have a 3,500-pound towing capacity.

The SE V6, PRO-4X, and LE trims are powered by a 4.0-liter, 24-valve V6 that produces 261 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 281 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. This V6 paired with a six-speed manual transmission in a RWD Frontier gets 16 city/20 highway mpg; paired with the same transmission in a 4WD, it gets 15/19 mpg. Paired with the five-speed automatic transmission in a RWD it gets 15/20 mpg, and paired with the automatic transmission in a 4WD, its gets 14/19.

Frontiers with the V6 and AWD can tow 6,300 pounds, while 4x2 Frontiers with the V6 can tow 6,500 pounds.

The four-cylinder engine is a nice option if you need a pickup and have to be very fuel conscious, but if you need your Frontier to do more than just get you from place to place, the critically acclaimed V6 is a better choice. The Frontier’s V6 is a 4.0-liter version of the same engine used in Nissan’s 350Z and the Infiniti G37. It’s both smooth and remarkably potent, delivering power at all speeds.

Ride & Handling

Most testers agree that the Frontier’s combination of on- and off-road performance is unmatched in the compact pickup class, as long as you go with the V6 engine. The PRO-4X is the trim of choice for those who need serious off-road capability, but it is noticeably stiffer than the other trims, so if you plan to drive your Frontier primarily on paved surfaces, the PRO-4X is probably not the best option.

Frontiers with the V6 (which are most of them) accelerate well off the line with the 281 lb-ft of torque and have no trouble passing at high speeds either. The speed-sensitive power steering is accurate and provides the driver with plenty of feedback, making the Frontier a very easy car to drive around town.

The Frontier’s full-length, fully boxed ladder frame, featuring super-high tensile steel placed at key areas, provides the foundation for its performance prowess. That frame, coupled with an outstanding suspension system (independent double-wishbone in the front and overslung multi-leaf with a solid axle in the rear), gives the Frontier a car-like feel on twisty roads, absorbs road imperfections great and small, and allows the Frontier to tackle tough off-road tracts.

The AWD system is shift-on-the-fly with a two-speed transfer case, a 4LO setting, a 32.6-degree angle of approach, a 23.3-degree angle of departure, Hill start assist, and Hill descent control. This AWD system is fantastic on any trim, but coupled with the Bilstein off-road performance shocks, the P265/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires on 16-inch alloy rims, and the full underbody skidplating of the PRO-4X, that AWD will grant you access to some serious wilderness.

Cabin & Comfort

The compact pickup class is known for minimalist cabins with a lack of technology and an abundance of cheap materials. The Frontier breaks that mold – for the most part.

The base XE trim has a typical bare-bones feature list, but the other Frontier trims offer a nice range of features. A general outline of those features is listed above in the “At a Glance” section and you can get a full breakdown through the trim descriptions. The materials, well, they tend toward plastic and hard, but you won’t find much else in this class.

The cabin has an attractive style that is also ergonomic, as the sweep-needle gauges are easy to read, and the controls are easy to reach and intuitive to use. The front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive. The rear seats in King Cab Frontiers are accessed through small, rear-opening doors and are rather cramped, but again, this is par for the course with extended-cab seats. The rear seats in the Crew Cab are much more usable and offer plenty of legroom for adults.

There is a decent amount of cargo space behind the front seats if the rear seats folded flat, and Nissan has provided the Frontier with some innovative cargo cubbies as well. There are removable storage boxes beneath the rear seats, dual stacked gloveboxes, a fold-flat front passenger seat, and one-liter cupholders integrated into the front doors.


The Frontier King Cab earned four out of five stars for driver protection in frontal crashes, five stars for front passenger protection in frontal crashes, and five stars in side-impact crash tests. The Crew Cab earned four stars for driver and passenger protection in front crashes and five stars for front and rear passenger protection in side impact crashes.

All Frontier models come standard with front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, stability control, antilock disc brakes, active head restraints, front and rear crumple zones, hood buckling creases, an energy absorbing steering column, steel side-door guard beams, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

What Owners Think

Read through some owner reviews of the Nissan Frontier and you'll find plenty of people who once owned Toyotas, Chevrolets, and Dodges saying they're glad they made the switch to Nissan. You’ll also find owners who keep buying Frontiers because they were so happy with their old ones.

Owners love the power delivered by the Frontier’s V6 engine. It’s hard to find many who opted for the four-cylinder. Owners also enjoy the Frontier’s on-road handling and the available Rockford Fosgate stereo, saying its an upgrade well worth the money.

The few Frontier complaints concern the sales experience or some early maintenance problems, but that can happen with any vehicle. Overall, owners are very happy with their Frontiers.


After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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2010 Nissan Frontier Top Comparisons

Users ranked 2010 Nissan Frontier against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.

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Nissan Frontier Questions

Frontier Won’t Start

2010 frontier battery was dead. When turning ignition got clicking and lights but no start. Tried to jump but then got nothing, no click, no lights. Got new battery and still absolutely nothing, Fus...

Steering Wheel Swap

I am changing the steering wheel on my 2010 Nissan Frontier. The old wheel has cruise control on the right side. The new steering wheel has the same, but on the left side it has radio controls and pho...

20100 Nissan Frontier Steering Wheel Swap

I own a 2010 Nissan Frontier with cruse control on steering wheel. Steering wheel is crumbling and leaves a mess with small crumbs all over. I purchased a new leather wrapped wheel with cruse and als...

2010 Nissan Frontier

no crank problem. battery good replaced starter starter good but did nothing check power flow from ignition switch all good to IPDM check relay. relay good but it clicks on with ignition switch in t...