2009 Nissan Frontier Review
Pros & Cons
- Capable chassis, plenty of ground clearance, superb off-roader, beefy V6, pleasant highway ride, roomy interior, clever truck bed accessories.
- Interior heavy on hard plastics, regular-cab body style not available, inflexible option packages.
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Most helpful consumer reviews
SE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I will start this review off stating that the North Carolina Consumer Council urges people to stay away from this vehicle: http://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2016/dont-buy-nissan-pathfinder-frontier-xterra.shtml If you're looking to purchase a used Frontier it is imperative to look out for two costly failures. They start occurring around the 100k mark. I will list them from most to least expensive. 1. Coolant leaks in the transmission fluid. Bring a ratchet with an extension and a 10mm socket to remove the bolt and check the transmission fluid. The dipstick isn't easy to find, so Google it and you'll see where to locate it. If the transmission fluid is pink, or has the look and consistency of Pepto Bismol, the transmission will fail, and the radiator will need to be replaced. Estimated cost to repair at Nissan dealership = $3500 - $6000 2. Listen for the timing chain tensioner failure. After starting the engine pop open the hood and listen to area where the timing chain is near, also if you can have someone rev it up a few times to see if you hear the whine; if you hear a whining sound, similar to an remote controlled car moving, then timing chain tensioner has failed and the timing belt will eventually get too loose and destroy the engine. All of the timing chains and tensioners will need to be replaced. Estimated cost to repair at Nissan dealership = $1700 - $2000 if ignored and the timing chain fails you will need a rebuilt engine estimated cost ??? (thousands) The radiator/transmission issues can be avoided by rerouting the lines that run from the radiator to the transmission directly into the transmission cooler, but a better solution is to install an external transmission cooler bypassing the radiator altogether; this way coolant will never have a chance to enter the transmission even if the radiator fails, or leaks occur. If you've made it this far that means you still have interest in the vehicle so I'll continue with my review of actually owning the truck. The Good: Up until 100k the truck was sound mechanically. Had no major issues. The truck accelerates very nicely. The performance is great, and the ride is even more solid when you have a load. I have never towed with it, but the towing capacity is pretty good for a light truck. The A/C gets cold quickly, the heat sometimes acts up and doesn't want to heat until moving, but eventually that goes away. The bed size is great, I've hauled some pretty nice size loads in the thing and I've rarely had issues with not having enough space. I liked the look of this truck over the others in the class at the time. The king cab gives you enough room to store groceries, or have a small child in the back. I've had adults squeeze back there but I would not recommend it. The truck handles well, with the exception of the turning radius. The truck stops when you press on the brakes, and they will get spongy if you don't keep up on them, but even then it will stop abruptly. With that being said this truck is fun to drive and performs very well. The Bad: The Bridgestone trail rated tires that come with the truck are useless on wet pavement and makes the ride quality horrible. I replaced with Michelin tires, I can't recall the rating, but it changed the traction, handling, and ride quality dramatically! The turning radius isn't the greatest. I've wondered how heavy trucks can outturn my truck, at first I thought it was my driving skills, but after driving other trucks; I realized that it's the Frontier with a sad turning radius. You will have to get used to this and swing out on turns, and U-Turns in the thing are terrible at best. Good luck driving this truck, rear wheel drive, in the snow/ice without some kind of weight on the back of the bed. This probably holds true with most rear wheel vehicles, but I'm just pointing it out for people in snowy climates. The Ugly: I started noticing this weird whining sound, and rough start whenever I would crank up the car. The truck would rock when I started it up. I was due for a tune up, so after getting that done the rock went away a little, but the whine was still there. I started doing research and I saw that Nissan issued a service bulletin about the timing chain tensioner issues. Took it to the Nissan dealership the service tech said I need a new timing chain $1900. I did more research and found out that this has been an issue since the 2005 Frontiers and that I missed the boat on getting this fix done under warranty, at this point I was pissed because I was never aware of this issue until after the warrant before it happened! Went to another mechanic that fixed it for 10 hours labor & parts for $1700. Now I'm looking to bypass the radiator and get an external transmission cooler to prevent myself from possibly having to purchase a new transmission and radiator. Just know, Nissan is on the bottom of reliability and customer satisfaction rankings for a reason.
SE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I just purchased this slightly used (8930 miles on it) 2009 Frontier King Cab SE. I mainly needed a truck for work & my two main criteria were confort & reliability. I had originally been looking for a Toyota Tacoma, but for the price of my Frontier I would of got an '06 Tacoma with a lot more miles on it. After driving my Frontier for 2 weeks now I am happier than ever. The truck is very comfortable for me (6'4") & performs great! It feels like a big truck, while keeping smaller dimensions. Looks very aggressive & rides like a car. every time my wife gets in it she comments on how comfortable it is! Hands down a better value than a Tacoma, much more bang for your buck!
SE 4dr King Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M)
I bought mine after a 3 month search, the guy at the dealership was great at finding my truck, and he gave me a great deal. I love this truck. Its rugged, and can take a beating. After a few rough off-road sessions and about 20k miles, the suspension loosened up a little more than I would have liked, but I should have bought the Pro 4X, which I am going to do now that my truck has been totaled in an accident. Which is another reason I love this truck, it took a 60 mph head on collision with a utility trailer & truck when they came into my lane from the other direction. I walked away, but the truck was totaled, but the important thing is it saved me.
SE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M)
I bought this Frontier new in 2009. MSRP was super competitive to begin with and dealer discounted $5,000 to boot. We originally bought this truck to haul our camper and I also used it my construction business. Other than normal wear items, I didn't put a dime into it. It had lots of towing capability, with no need for an equalizer hitch. The 4 L six, has plenty of power, transmission was smooth and well matched to the engine. I owed it for 9 years and put 62,000 miles on it. The only downside was gas mileage was weak at around 16 in the local area, and 19 on the highway. The other weak point was a horrible turning radius, made worse by the long wheelbase due to the crew cab with the longer (6ft) bed. After 9 winters in salty upstate NY, there was zero rust on the body, but the under carriage accumulated lots of rust on the frame and suspension components. Par for the course up here, however nothing that compromised its safety. I just traded it on a new 2018 Frontier with the short bed, and updated center dash, heated seats, and some other goodies the prior model was lacking. The turning radius is much improved with the short bed. After shopping a second Nissan dealer, I got an excellent trade-in on my 2009, and $3,000 off MSRP to boot. I went back to Nissan for the same reason I did in 2009. You can't beat the value in this truck when compared to other midsize trucks on the market, especially Tacoma. I strongly suggest you shop more than one dealer if you buy a new one. This time around I paid $5,3000 less by going to a second dealership even though it was owned by the same dealer group and was only 35 miles down the road. If you are looking at a new one, I strongly suggest the SV model with the Value Package Option as the best buy overall with an MSRP of around $32,500.