Nissan Frontier

Research the Nissan 2012 Frontier

The Good

The 2012 Nissan Frontier is both practical and versatile, with above average handling and overall capabilities that are pretty impressive for a truck its size. The optional V6 engine provides good power, and its body is rigid, strong and well-constructed.

The Bad

The base inline-4 engine doesn’t make the grade, and even the extended cab version is cramped on the inside and short on cargo space in the truck bed.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Nissan 2012 Frontier is a solid and practical option, especially if you upgrade to the V6 engine.


Nissan offers the 2012 Frontier in 16 different trim packages. The base model is the Frontier S 4x2 king cab with a 125.9 inch wheelbase, and the highest-priced option is the Frontier SL 4x4 crew cab with a 139.9 inch wheelbase. The mid-range SV and PRO trim packages bridge the gap between the S and the SL.

MSRP: $19,010 (base model Nissan Frontier king cab) to $32,740 (top of the line Nissan Frontier crew cab)

Average paid: $18,186 to $31,301


Acceleration and power

The standard inline-4 engine is modest in its acceleration and power capabilities, offering a maximum of 152 horsepower, 171 lb/ft of torque and an unimpressive 0 to 60 time of 9.8 seconds. Upgrade to one of the trim packages with a V6 engine and you will enjoy a big horsepower and torque boost, to the tune of 261 horsepower and 281 lb/ft of torque. The V6 practically doubles the payload and towing capacity specifications; the inline-4 clocks in with a 976-pound payload and a 3,500-pound towing capacity, but the V6 offers 1,565 pounds of payload and 6,500 pounds of towing capability.

Handling and braking

While the 4x2 version of the truck offers decent handling and is suitable for use in off-road settings, you may want to upgrade to one of the 4x4 trim packages if you need optimally responsive handling and off-roading capabilities. On the whole, handling is about average for its class; it lags a little behind the Toyota Tacoma, but isn’t likely to encumber your driving experience.

Brakes are taut and responsive. Anti-lock disc brakes are standard on all models, and according to numerous Nissan Frontier reviews, the braking system performed well on deceleration tests.



The Nissan Frontier offers seating for four passengers, in two reclining front bucket seats and two forward-facing rear seats that can be flipped up or retracted. The front passenger seat can also be folded flat if you need the room for cargo or storage. Cloth is the default seating material, though leather upgrades are available with the higher-end trim packages if you want it.


Like most compact pickup trucks, this Nissan truck offers only modest standard interior features. Two auxiliary power outlets, analog instrumentation with service reminders and a center console with a storage-capable armrest are among the only noteworthy standard features; even air conditioning, power windows and power door locks are optional and will cost you extra. The standard stereo is also of the no-frills variety, consisting of a pre-wired radio with four speakers.

Cargo space

The cargo box dimensions are as follows:

  • Length at floor: 73.3 inches
  • Width at floor: 61.4 inches
  • Width at wheel housings:44.4 inches
  • Height: 18.0 inches

These measurements are slightly above average for the vehicle’s class.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2012 Nissan Frontier a three-star rating for rollover resistance. Standard safety features include electronic brake force distribution, active brake limited slip, vehicle dynamics control, reinforced side door guard beams, a clutch interlocking system, a tire pressure monitoring system, three-point seat belts for all passengers and a total of six airbags. In addition to dual-stage front impact airbags for the driver and passenger, the Nissan 2012 Frontier also offers rear roof-mounted side curtain airbags and seat-mounted side impact airbags for the front seats.


The 2012 model is virtually unchanged from the 2011 Nissan Frontier, except for some changes to the standard features included with the various trim packages. These specifications are for the base model of the truck; variations in performance and features are highlighted in the sections below.

  • Transmission: 5-speed manual with overdrive (automatic transmission available)
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive upgrade available)
  • Engine Type: Gasoline inline-4 (V6 upgrade available; recommended for professional usage)
  • Engine Size: 2.5 L
  • Horsepower: 152 @ 5200 rpm
  • Torque: 171 @ 4400 rpm
  • MPG, City: 19 MPG
  • MPG, Highway: 23 MPG
  • Payload: 976 pounds
  • Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds
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