2024 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab SV: The Fun Size Pickup

nissan motor company logoI’ve always liked smaller pickup trucks, though most of what I see on the roads here in Colorado are the big half-ton or three-quarter-ton monsters that tower above all the SUVs and sedans on the street. Half the time it’s one person in the truck and the back’s so clean it’s clear they’ve never had to load up, but while they’re comfortable, these big trucks are also quite a challenge in a busy parking lot (not to mention at the gas pump). That’s why smaller pickups are an interesting alternative, and given that my son is a proud Toyota Tacoma owner, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in smaller pickups too.

Nissan offered me a week with the 2024 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab SV, a direct competitor to the Tacoma, and I was happy to be given the opportunity. Like all modern vehicles, there are quite a few trim kit options for the Frontier, and what I received was the 2024 Nissan Frontier SV Crew Cab SWB 4×4 Automatic V6, according to the Monroney. In Red Alert with a Charcoal interior:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - exterior front

The drive experience was interesting with its big 3.8L V6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission; it jumped from a stop with a healthy acceleration, but I found that accelerating from 50-70 on the highway felt sluggish at best. It has a 6600-pound towing capacity, but I imagine it would feel quite sluggish with a few tons of trailer or boat hitched up. Could it tow that boat over the Continental Divide, just a short drive from my house and peaking at over 11,000 feet? Yes. Would you be thankful to hit the summit and begin the downward side of your journey? Definitely.

What most caught my eye on first glance wasn’t the cheery red paint but the rollbar with side plates spelling out “Frontier”. It’s listed rather modestly as “Sports Bar” as part of the Hardbody Edition optional upgrade, but it really set this vehicle apart from other mid-range trucks. On the other hand, the Hardbody Edition also adds the 17″ Heritage Alloy Wheels, which I didn’t much like at all. (Note: This truck also had the SV Convenience Package which lists “17” Alloy Wheels” so it’s hard to say which was what actually ended up on the truck. If you’re a Nissen expert and can clarify, please leave a comment!)

The Frontier is also an interesting mashup of old-school vehicle design and very modern elements. For example, the gear shift and center console look like it could have been in a truck from 40 years ago:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - center console gear shift

No extraneous buttons, no sensors, no remote infotainment controls, just a gearshift, and that’s just a straight forward/backward design with zigs or zags. But look closely at the above and you’ll see both USB-A and USB-C ports for charging and wired only Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  Wired only? I kind of prefer it, but will also note that there are aftermarket products you can hook up that will convert wired to wireless if you prefer.

Moving back to the full dashboard you can see more of the interior design. There are a lot of features and options:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - full dashboard

The infotainment screen is relatively small at 8 inches, but Nissan has made good use of the almost square display, having its own row of buttons along the bottom even when in CarPlay or Android Auto display mode. The built-in NissanConnect, though, felt antiquated in its user interface and design. One thing I did appreciate was that the 12V power outlet isn’t tucked in the back of the coin tray below the climate controls but rather in front, just below and to the right of the infotainment “tuner” button. If you’re using it to power a radar detector or dashcam, having it more convenient is helpful.

The most exciting control on the truck, however, was tucked by the driver’s right knee:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - 2wd / 4wd control knob

It’s so nice to have left the era of getting out and switching the wheels manually! I wasn’t able to off-road with the truck, but given its snappiness from a stop and in parking lots, I expect that it’s quite fun on tough, rugged trails. Perhaps next time they’ll let me get it really dirty!

The controls don’t stop with this knob, however, because in front of the driver’s left knee is one of the more bewildering control panels I’ve seen on a vehicle:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - buttons by driver's left knee

There are three mysteriously unused buttons – a bit of a cheap look – but you can see some pretty useful features here that are generally tucked away and almost hidden. The one I had to read up on and understand immediately was “Cargo Lamp” because the back of the cab facing the truckbed has a bright LED light that stays on when you lock the car. Turns out that after a few minutes, it automatically turns off, but if you stay near it, it’ll stay on (it’s using the key proximity to figure this out). Not understanding this smart design feature, I opted to disable it with the Cargo Lamp button. And now you know too.

Note the “Tow Mode” button in the above image. According to Nissan, that’s a convenience feature to enhance towing performance. When engaged, it optimizes the vehicle’s transmission and engine settings, providing better control and stability. It also enables the “Intelligent Around View Monitor” to assist in precise hitch alignment. If I were the designer, this might be a button I’d move onto the center console to make the additional towing capabilities a bit more obvious (so drivers actually use it).

The main gauge display is pretty uninspiring, particularly considering that the center portion is a display screen:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - main gauge display

In this instance, however, knowing the amount of work that the engine’s doing by monitoring the tachometer might make a lot of sense, alerting you if it’s struggling with the tow load or starting to heat up. Also note the tiny wheel indicator icon, confirming that I am in 2WD mode!

In terms of fuel efficiency, well, the 3.8L V6 is a big engine but it was less thirsty than I expected. I averaged 23.5 miles per gallon of mostly city and highway driving (not much up in the mountains). Interestingly, it’s rated 18/23 with an average EPA fuel efficiency of 20mpg so either I was a perfect driver for a few hundred miles or the EPA estimates are a bit low with the Frontier. Either way, while 23.5 isn’t amazing, it’s certainly decent. For comparison purposes, fuelly.com reports that on average, Toyota Tacoma drivers see just under 20mpg.

I did notice more than once that the NissanConnect system lost Bluetooth connection with my Apple iPhone 15 Pro, but would then almost immediately reconnect. This led to some interesting situations, like this:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - infotainment lost bluetooth connection

It’s reporting that it disconnected, but since it already reconnected, it’s still playing the audiobook from the iPhone. Is this an iPhone issue or a Frontier issue? I haven’t experienced this in any of the other vehicles I’ve driven for the last few months…

While we’re looking at this image, notice the on-screen buttons at the bottom of the display and the physical buttons below them. What’s missing? No “MAP” button: NissanConnect doesn’t appear to have a built-in navigational system, but since it can tap into the smarts of your phone, that’s not an issue unless you’re a truck fan and have a simple feature phone. Then – horrors! – you’ll have to actually know where you’re heading.

Stepping out of the vehicle, this is a Crew Cab configuration so there’s seating for five. At least theoretically:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - rear leg room

If you did have adults in the back seat, it would be kind of the driver and front passenger to slide up their seats a bit for additional legroom but overall the back seats were functional, if rather plain. And how about that back truckbed? The SV Convenience Package includes a spray-on bedliner, which seems like a must-have in my opinion:

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - rear with door down, spray on liner

You can see the Sport Bar a bit better in this photo and the bed had a very nice Utili-track System with tie-down hooks that would make it a breeze to secure cargo. However, with the tailgate closed, be aware that the bed, because it’s the Crew Cab configuration, is only 5 feet long. You can get the “long bed” option to add a foot, but it’s not clear if that’s compatible with the Crew Cab configuration.

The sound system was worth a mention, supplied by Fender. I didn’t know that Fender made vehicle audio systems since the company made its name in musical instruments, but it was a very pleasant listen with the Fender Audio Package and 10 speakers tucked away in the Crew Cab area. Whether you’re jammin’ the latest country hits or listening to a podcast, it works well with the surprisingly quiet cab interior.

2024 nissan frontier crew cab sv - exterior rear

I had a lot of fun driving the Frontier and grew to really like the appearance, from the bright Red Alert color to the trim design and the extra space that the Crew Cab offered. It was peppy from a stop though underwhelming on the highway, but its best-in-class towing capacity and better-than-EPA fuel efficiency combined to make it a solid option. This might be one of my favorite Nissan vehicles at this point. Definitely worth a closer look if you’re in the market for a smaller truck.

2024 Nissan Frontier SV Crew Cab SWB 4×4 Automatic V6 in Red Alert with Charcoal Interior. MSRP: $37,030.00. Options Included: Fender Audio Package, Hardbody Edition, SV Convenience Package, Carpeted Floor Mats, Technology Package. AS DRIVEN: $46,540.00.

Disclaimer: Nissan loaned me the Frontier for a week of adventure in return for this candid writeup. Thanks, Nissan!

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dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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