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.
List Price

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2009 Nissan Frontier is a top pick for a compact pickup, thanks to its brawny nature and innovative features.

Vehicle overview

Trying to get the best of both worlds seems to be an eternal struggle in automotive circles. Whether it's a sports car with practicality, a family car that doesn't look like you gave up on your dreams or a pickup that's as useful in the city as it is out on the range, people want a vehicle that can do everything. Of course, no vehicle can actually achieve this, but the 2009 Nissan Frontier comes pretty close for a midsize pickup.

Available in numerous combinations of body styles, bed sizes and trim levels, the Nissan Frontier likely has a configuration that fits your needs. Whether you're looking for a work truck that can also haul the family or a commuter truck that can also scream through the woods on the weekend, the Frontier stands tall among compact trucks with its versatility and ingenuity.

The Frontier's advantages clearly outweigh its faults, with its clever features, off-road prowess and plentiful V6 power overcoming inferior plastics in the cabin and a frustrating options structure. The Frontier's closest rival, the Toyota Tacoma, is certainly worth a look when truck shopping, but we found the Frontier to have better on-road manners and a more functional interior.

2009 Nissan Frontier models

The 2009 Nissan Frontier is a compact-class pickup truck that is offered in King Cab (commonly known as extended cab) and Crew Cab (four-door) configurations. A 6-foot bed is standard for the King Cab, while the Crew Cab comes with a 5-foot bed, with the 6-footer available as an option. The entry-level Frontier is the XE, with more amenities progressively added to the SE, LE and PRO-4X trims. In typical Nissan fashion, options are only available via large and expensive packages.

As the bare-bones model, the Frontier XE is available only as a King Cab, with a four-cylinder engine and manual transmission and very little in the way of creature comforts or accessories. Included are 15-inch steel wheels, front bucket seats and cloth upholstery. Adding the XE Preferred Package gets you an AM/FM/CD audio system and air-conditioning.

The four-cylinder SE trim level adds 16-inch wheels, a chrome front bumper, a sliding rear window, air-conditioning and a tilting steering wheel. Options for the SE include the Power Package, which consists of remote keyless entry, full power accessories and cruise control. For V6-powered SE Frontiers, the Value Truck Package is available and equivalent to the Power Package, but also includes a bedliner and 16-inch alloy wheels.

For those actually planning on taking the road less traveled, the PRO-4X is capable of tackling most off-road conditions. Upgrades include 16-inch alloy wheels with rugged off-road tires, a locking rear differential, Bilstein off-road shocks, underside skid plates, splash guards and white-faced gauges. Besides the off-road bits, the PRO-4X package shares many amenities with the LE trim level, including foglights, a spray-on bedliner, the Utili-track cargo-management system, keyless entry, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer and a first aid kit. However, the LE trim trades the PRO-4X's off-road equipment for 18-inch alloy wheels, body-colored side molding, chrome exterior trim, tubular step rails and a power driver seat.

Options for the PRO-4X and LE models include the Technology Package, which includes a 10-speaker sound system with a six-CD/MP3 changer and an auxiliary jack, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, satellite radio and Bluetooth. This year's new Value Truck Package includes the Technology Package's equipment as well as leather seating, heated front seats and a power front passenger seat. The Traction Package is available with the Technology Package -- but only in 4x4 models with automatic transmissions -- adding hill-start assist, hill descent control and stability control.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Nissan Frontier receives minor styling updates that include a new front fascia, headlights and instrument panel. Also new is available leather seating and the PRO-4X trim level, which is essentially the same thing as last year's Nismo package.

Performance & mpg

The 2009 Nissan Frontier comes with a choice of two engines -- a 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque, or a 4.0-liter V6 producing 261 hp and 281 lb-ft. The V6 is the only engine choice for Crew Cabs and four-wheel-drive variants, while the four-cylinder is available only in 4x2 King Cab models. The four-cylinder models are offered with a standard five-speed manual transmission with an option for a five-speed automatic on the SE. The V6 is equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic, depending on the trim level and configuration.

Of the entire Frontier line, the King Cab V6 4x2 has the highest towing capacity at 6,500 pounds. EPA-rated fuel economy for automatic-equipped four-cylinder models comes in at 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. V6-equipped models with the automatic and 4WD rate 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.


Antilock disc brakes are standard on all Frontier models, with side and side-curtain airbags available as an option. Stability control is offered only as an option for LE and PRO-4X models.

In government crash tests, the 2009 Nissan Frontier earned four out of five stars for driver protection in frontal collisions and a top five-star rating for side impacts. Front-passenger protection was rated at five stars for the King Cab and four stars for the Crew Cab. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Frontier a "Good" rating (the best rating possible) for frontal impacts but only a "Marginal" rating for side-impact protection.


The Frontier's four-cylinder models make it a fair choice as an inexpensive light-duty work truck, especially considering higher fuel prices. However, for those who need anything above "just getting around," the V6 is really the only choice. Providing an abundance of low-end torque, six-cylinder models are up to most any task, with a competent automatic transmission delivering well-timed shifts whether you're tearing up the sand dunes, hauling supplies to a work site or navigating a morning commute. Ride quality is unexpectedly pleasant for a pickup truck and steering is precise, with ample feedback. Frontier 4x4 models are capable off-roaders, thanks to a maximum ground clearance of 10.1 inches and an abundance of suspension travel. For those seeking an even more accomplished off-road ride, the PRO-4X model is definitely the pick of the litter.


The 2009 Nissan Frontier King Cab utilizes small, reverse-opening doors to allow rear passenger access to the fold-up jump seats. The Crew Cab employs conventional rear doors that open to a larger rear cabin. As expected, the smaller rear passenger quarters in the King Cab are rather cramped but offer extra seating in a pinch. The otherwise roomy cabin is attractively designed, with intuitive controls and comfortable front seats. However, the liberal use of cheap, hard plastics detracts from an otherwise successful execution.

Anyone planning on a fair amount of cargo hauling would be well advised to spring for an options package that includes the spray-on bedliner and Utili-track system. Using two "C" cross-section channels running the length of the bed floor, one channel on each side bed rail and one channel mounted on the rear of the cab, the Utili-track tie-down system employs removable cleats and a host of accessories like dividers, trays, storage bins and bike racks, providing a very flexible cargo storage solution.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Nissan Frontier.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Buyer Beware! The Good the Bad, & The Ugly
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.
Better Than I Expected
*El Ocho1*,12/04/2009
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!
One tough truck.
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.
Great buy, great value, relicable
Gene Celeste,08/08/2018
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.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2009 Nissan Frontier

Used 2009 Nissan Frontier Overview

The Used 2009 Nissan Frontier is offered in the following submodels: Frontier Crew Cab, Frontier King Cab. Available styles include SE 4dr Crew Cab 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), XE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (2.5L 4cyl 5M), SE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), LE 4dr Crew Cab 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), LE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr Crew Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr King Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), PRO-4X 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (2.5L 4cyl 5M), SE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), XE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (2.5L 4cyl 5A), PRO-4X 4dr Crew Cab 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr King Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), LE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), PRO-4X 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), PRO-4X 4dr King Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), LE 4dr King Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (2.5L 4cyl 5A), SE 4dr Crew Cab 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), SE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.0 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), LE 4dr Crew Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), PRO-4X 4dr King Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), SE 4dr Crew Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 6M), and LE 4dr King Cab 6.1 ft. SB (4.0L 6cyl 5A). Pre-owned Nissan Frontier models are available with a 4.0 L-liter gas engine or a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 261 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Nissan Frontier comes with rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed automatic, 5-speed manual. The Used 2009 Nissan Frontier comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Nissan Frontier?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Nissan Frontier trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Nissan Frontier SE is priced between $11,877 and$11,877 with odometer readings between 160547 and160547 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2009 Nissan Frontiers are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2009 Nissan Frontier for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2009 Frontiers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $11,877 and mileage as low as 160547 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2009 Nissan Frontier.

Can't find a used 2009 Nissan Frontiers you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Frontier for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $19,511.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 3 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $11,821.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Frontier for sale - 9 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $19,493.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 12 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $7,950.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 Nissan Frontier?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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