What Are The Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Frontier? [My Honest Review]

Find out the most reliable Nissan Frontier through my guide

Coming under various aliases such as the Nissan Navara and Nissan NP300, the Nissan Frontier has been sold worldwide since 1997.

The North American and International models were made separate in 2021.

Available in compact and mid-sized body types with 2 and 4-door designs, there are a lot of models to choose from when it comes to the Nissan Frontier.

Because of this large variety, I will be talking about the best and worst years for Nissan Frontier.

Worst Years for Nissan Frontier:

  1. 2005
  2. 2006
  3. 2007
  4. 2008
  5. 2012

Best Years for Nissan Frontier:

  1. 2019
  2. 1999
  3. 2018
  4. 1998
  5. 2017

Fans and car enthusiasts widely talk about these models. They are also one of the most famous, or infamous, models in the lineup.

To ensure that you choose a good model, it is best to read this entire article.

What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Frontier? Which Years To Avoid?

Almost a decade after the initial release of the Nissan Frontier, the lineup fell into hard times. Model after model, the issues would not stop pouring in.

This vastly portrayed the Nissan Frontier in a negative light and made a lot of people avoid the following models like the plague.

1. 2005 Nissan Frontier

The 2005 Nissan Frontier was the start of difficult times for the entire lineup, as the issues it would introduce would not be fixed until years later.

The problems were so vast that they would pile up, one after the other. Each new problem that would rise would then give birth to another issue that would be difficult to solve.

The biggest issue that made the 2005 Nissan Frontier famous was that its radiator would cause transmission failure.

What would happen is that the radiator would rupture and leak coolant into the transmission. This would eventually cause the entire transmission to die.

Another major issue that accompanied this specific model was that the timing chain and the tensioner were prone to failure.

Additionally, the engine would often stall and even die while driving. All of these problems made people dislike the 2005 Nissan Frontier model.

2. 2006 Nissan Frontier

Following in the footsteps of the 2005 model, the 2006 Nissan Frontier still had the issue where the radiator would crack.

Eventually, the leaking coolant would destroy the transmission, rendering it useless.

This problem alone made the 2006 Nissan Frontier worthy of being in second place on this list as, without it, it would have been a great pickup truck.

The engine took a step in the right direction but was still quite faulty. The engine itself would whine and had a habit of losing power and dying shortly after.

This was accompanied by faulty timing chains, which made matters even worse.

3. 2007 Nissan Frontier

Another year passed and the 2007 Nissan Frontier repeated the same mistakes as its predecessor. The radiator was still leaking and causing the transmission to go out.

It is unclear why the company did not attempt to fix these glaring issues surrounding its radiator. What is clear is that a lot of people started to avoid the Nissan Frontier lineup.

Engine problems were slowly being addressed but there were still instances of the engine turning over and not starting.

Worn-out timing chains, tensioners, and other associated equipment did not aid this. The result was yet another model that deserves a spot on this list.

4. 2008 Nissan Frontier

After three years of enormous issues and almost nothing has been done to fix them, Nissan decided to put in some effort.

The result of this effort was the 2008 Nissan Frontier. While this model did not reinvent the wheel by any means, it did tone down many of the problems surrounding the previous three models.

Unfortunately, it was far from being a good car as there was massive difficulty in shifting, along with the common case of transmission failure.

As you guessed, these problems were caused by the radiator cracking and leaking coolant. This would be the last time the frontier would have such a problem.

5. 2012 Nissan Frontier

Luckily for fans of the Nissan Frontier, the 2012 model did not have any issues with the radiator. The last that they saw those issues were in the 2008 model.

While the 2012 Nissan Frontier was not as bad as those models, it was still a host to its issues, so I decided to place it in fifth place.

The 2012 Nissan Frontier had a bad case of its paint chipping off. The body was poorly made and, as a result, suffered from rust and corrosion.

The engine did not fare any better. It would vibrate at idle and die while driving.

What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Frontier? Which Years To Buy

With all the bad out of the way, it is time to discuss the best models for the Nissan Frontier.

These models are well regarded for their great driving and quality which they provide to the user.

Hence, looking for these specific models would be in your best interest.

1. 2019 Nissan Frontier

Coming in at six different trims, the 2019 Nissan Frontier is one of the best modern Nissan Frontiers in the lineup which is why I decided to place it in first place on this list.

While modern may not be everyone’s cup of tea, you cannot deny this vehicle’s amazing features.

From the start, you will be able to see amazing maneuverability with the 2019 Nissan Frontier model.

This is especially great when considering this pickup truck’s off-road capabilities. Combine that with its V 6 towing capability, and you have a monster of a pickup truck.

With the various trims you can buy, you can get various other features.

While it is a shame that some of these features, such as leather seats and heated side mirrors, are not available in the base model, they are hardly must-buys.

Their simple inclusion makes the 2019 Nissan Frontier a solid model in the lineup.

2. 1999 Nissan Frontier

For those who are into something a bit more old school, I present the 1999 Nissan Frontier. Fans of the lineup universally love this model.

While it only came in 3 different trims, it was praised for its amazing reliability and performance.

All of this from a model which is two decades old is more than enough to have it get 2nd place on this list.

The build quality of the 1999 Nissan Frontier is amazing, and the components are built to last.

This is why you can drive over half of the car’s lifespan and still not get any issue whatsoever.

3. 2018 Nissan Frontier

While I opted to place the 2019 Nissan Frontier at the top of this list, it is obvious that it could not reach its potential without manufacturing the 2018 Nissan Frontier.

This model also featured the same, or slightly lower, maneuverability that the 2019 model was famous for.

It was also released in 6 different trims and brought in the many standard features which would go on into the 2019 model.

The only reason it is not in the first place is that everything it offers is offered in the 2019 model but slightly improved, leading to it having more value.

4. 1998 Nissan Frontier

Taking another leap back in time, I present the 1998 Nissan Frontier. By establishing a good build and reliable nature, it allowed future models to be based on it and improve it drastically.

An edge that the 1998 Nissan Frontier model has over its successor is that it is available in 4 different trims.

The only reason it does not do as well as the 1999 model is because it offers less value for its cost, something that the 1999 Nissan Frontier fixed.

5. 2017 Nissan Frontier

The final model in this list is the 2017 Nissan Frontier, an extremely affordable and responsive pickup truck that many people adored.

They liked it so much that I had to give it a spot on this list. Boasting impressive off-road capabilities and forward visibility, the 2017 Nissan Frontier was a very good pickup truck.

Much like its successors, it is available in 6 different trims and offers many of the features they did.

However, it would be the 2018 Nissan Frontier that would make them standard. This is mainly why I chose the last place on this list.

How Reliable Is A Nissan Frontier?

Depending on who you ask, you will hear different opinions about the Nissan Frontier.

The older models were known for their amazing quality and for being long-lasting. It was because of this reason that they were considered reliable.

The newer models lost some of that edge which is why many people considered the Nissan Frontier of average reliability.

Through my research, I would say that the Nissan Frontier is a pretty reliable lineup. It has fewer issues than its competition and the average repair cost is much lower than theirs.

How Long Do Nissan Frontiers Last?

Depending on your model, you can expect your Nissan Frontier to drive anywhere between 100,000 miles and beyond 200,000 miles.

A good model should be able to push past 200,000 miles easily. As long as you ensure good care and maintenance to your Nissan Frontier, you will find that it can last even beyond 16 years of service.

What To Do To Lengthen The Life Of Your Nissan Frontier

Cars may look tough, but their insides are very sensitive, and even the slightest issue can cause them to stop functioning.

Because of this, you have to take measures to take care of your Nissan Frontier and guarantee that it stays in tip-top shape.

Here are some habits you should develop:

  • Regular cleaning.
  • Frequent maintenance.
  • Drive frequently and for moderate distances.
  • Avoid hard braking and sudden stops.
  • Monthly checkups with a mechanic.
  • Monitoring of fluid levels in Nissan Frontier.

By making all of this a habit, you will see drastic improvements in the health and lifespan of your Nissan Frontier, allowing it to last well over 200,000 miles.

Things That Shorten The Lifespan Of Your Nissan Frontier

In this part of the article, I will talk about ways you might be shortening the lifespan of your Nissan Frontier.

You may not be aware of the implications these actions have on the health of the car, which is why you should avoid them if you are doing any of the following actions listed below:

  • Long periods of no driving.
  • Leaving the car in cold weather.
  • Usage of cheap/low-quality fuel.
  • Overloading your Nissan Frontier.
  • Ignoring problems and putting them off.
  • Using cheap and low-quality components.

It is integral that you do not do any of the above actions. Otherwise, you will find yourself making many trips to the mechanic.

Furthermore, your Nissan Frontier may not even make it past 100,000 miles which is why these habits should be eliminated.

3 Most Nissan Frontier Common Problems You Should Know

You already may have some idea about the next few entries that I will talk about, especially considering that they were common through the worst models of the Nissan Frontier.

Here, I will explain those pesky issues in detail so you can learn all about the problem and how you should approach it.

1. Radiator Leaks

Mostly common in models between 2005 and 2008, the radiator had a major defect that would cause it to leak coolant.

This on its own would not be that big of an issue, but this problem would cause many more issues to spring up.

Eventually, this issue would lead to many expensive repairs and inoperable vehicles.

2. Transmission Failure

A direct side effect of the leaky radiators was transmission failure. What would happen was that coolant would flood into the transmission, causing it to break down and become unusable.

This would force the owner to get the entire transmission system replaced, which is not a cheap thing to do, at the least.

If it was not bad enough, the transmission had its own set of problems to deal with.

3. Engine Problems

Getting into the engine of the Nissan Frontier, you could expect many issues related to the timing chain and the tensioners.

The biggest concern would be that these components would begin to fail, causing further problems.

The engine also developed a problem of stalling and even dying while driving. Thankfully, many of these issues were resolved in future models.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is Nissan Frontier A Good Car?

At the end of the day, the Nissan Frontier is an excellent pickup truck; there is little to no doubt about it.

As long as you stray clear from the worst models listed above, you will get a great experience out of your Nissan Frontier and excellent value.

Q2: Do Nissan Frontiers Hold Their Value?

Like any other vehicle produced by Nissan, the Nissan Frontier can hold its value rather well.

This is partly since its value depreciation only goes up to around 42%. However, this is for the first five years, and this value can decrease heavily in the future.

Q3: How Many Nissan Frontiers Have Been Sold?

Seeing as though the Nissan Frontier is a very old car, it was difficult to get a full range of units sold.

I found that between 2005 and this current year, the Nissan Frontier was able to sell more than 1.11 million units, which is extremely impressive for a pickup truck.

Q4: Which Nissan Frontier Engine Is The Most Reliable?

Many people consider the second iteration of the Nissan Frontier to be the best and most reliable model.

This is partly due to the V6 engine, which has a 3.8 L capacity. This engine had none of the issues of its predecessors and a lot of great qualities on top of good build quality.

Q5: Is Nissan Frontier Expensive To Maintain?

Assuming that the Nissan Frontier does not require any major fixes, you can expect the car to be very cheap to fix. There is only a 25% chance that you will have to make such a fix.

With odds like that, you are looking at the $8,500 cost of maintenance and repairs in the first ten years, which is much lower than its competition.

Conclusion

The Nissan Frontier has gone through a lot of development over the years and has evolved to accommodate the market’s needs here in the United States.

That being said, not all steps it has taken have been good. This is most notable when you see the worst models listed above.

Now that you have looked at the best and worst years for Nissan Frontier, you should be able to decide which model is perfect for you.

You should also be able to avoid the troublesome models, saving you a lot of time and money in the process.

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

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