For decades, I’ve been training to become the ultimate bro. The bill of my hat is flat; most of my clothes sport a Volcom, DC or RVCA logo; and my blood is 45% energy drink by volume. At the rate I’m progressing, it won’t be long before I have a sweet pad in the 909 and am married to each and every Monster Energy Girl. To really complete the package, though, I need a kick-ass 4x4. And now, it looks like my bro level will go over 9000 because Nissan just hooked me up with a 2016 Frontier PRO-4X.
Yes, this truck has been on the market since curating your MySpace Top 8 was still a thing. And with updated offerings from Chevy and Toyota, it’s easy for the Nissan to get lost in the mix. But as the Frontier plays in a space that prioritizes function and toughness over shiny and new, it remains a solid machine.
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Let’s start with how this thing is built. Unlike the Pathfinder, which went dad-bod soft to attract soccer moms, the Frontier remains as tough as ever. It’s built atop the F-Alpha platform – Nissan’s high-strength, fully boxed ladder frame. Key to this platform’s design is the way it tucks key mechanical components inside the frame. It keeps the fragile stuff out of the way, so this truck can roll with the punches of a sick off-road sesh.
Powering it all is a 4.0-liter V6 good for 261-horsepower and 281 lb.-ft. of torque. Standard on all four-wheel drive Frontiers – like the one I’ve got – is a four-wheel limited slip system, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. It all makes for a truck that’s capable right out of the box.
But there’s always room for more, and the PRO-4X grade adds a scoop of Gnar Pump to the Frontier formula. Tuned for more gnarly terrain, the Frontier PRO-4X adds Bilstein off-road shocks; an electronic locking rear diff; skid plates for the fuel tank, oil pan and transfer case; and unique 16" wheels with beefy off-road tires. It even comes with an optional roof rack that looks pretty friggin’ sweet.
And with a package like that, I did what any self-respecting bro would do: I drove the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X to the mall. Several times, in fact.
One of the best things about the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is just how usable it is for the day-to-day drive. Even with four doors, it’s got a short bed, meaning that this truck can do things like...turn. And easily drive down a residential street. It can even get in and out of an average parking space without the need to make a 47-point turn. However, I wouldn’t know anything about that last one because, in true bro fashion, I make sure that this Frontier always gets a full four parking spaces to itself.
Inside, the Frontier gets the same interior seen in every Nissan since the mid-2000s. So that means lots of hard plastic, chunky (though functional) switchgear and enough orange lighting to make everyday feel like Halloween. It’s got some updates, like a low-res touch-screen nav system with Bluetooth connectivity, so you can at least stream your favorite Pennywise playlist from your phone. This top-of-the-line Frontier even comes with niceties like dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. Best of all, it’s got some big-ass cup holders, so you can always have a can of Monster at the ready.
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As for the drive, well...the Frontier drives like a truck. It’s bouncy, has lots of engine and road noise, and its steering wheel helps point the truck in the general direction you want to go. If you want refinement or crisp, track-inspired handling, look elsewhere.
At the end of the day, the Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is a simple, honest truck. While it seems crazy that this 10-year-old chassis is priced like its newer competitors, buyers in this market just want a “classic” pickup. They don’t care that the Frontier doesn’t come with dual moonroofs or a tri-zone entertainment system – they just want to crawl over stuff and haul a dirt bike or two. And they want it in a robust package that can take some punishment. On this front, the Frontier PRO-4X delivers.
On the bro front, well, let’s just say that I got some extra cred when I pulled up to my local UFC gym, so all is right in my world. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go crush this palette of Red Bull, my bro training is not yet complete.