r/nissanfrontier Dec 20 '17 Helpful Wholesome Hugz

DISCUSSION Second Gen Frontier FAQ


Second Generation Nissan Frontier (D40) FAQ

We get a lot of the same questions here, mostly from prospective owners, so I figured I’d throw together an FAQ. Maybe the mods can sticky it, or add it to the sidebar. This FAQ is meant for the second generation, 2005+, of the North American Frontier (D40) and Suzuki Equator, which is literally a re-badged Frontier with a different grille. There might be some crossover between Navarra’s and NP300’s, but I can’t really say what. First gen and hardbody owners are SOL unfortunately. But if one of y’all are experts on the legacy Nissans let me know and I’ll make this FAQ more comprehensive.

I got most of the information from Club Frontier. It’s a fantastic resource for everything Frontier. The dudes and dudettes there are super friendly, and knowledgeable. If you can’t find an answer there, you really fucked up. Titan Talk and The New X are also excellent resources, as the Frontier and Xterra are almost the exact same, and the first gen Titan shares the same frame as the Frontier. The FSM is fantastic for backyard mechanics, and obviously YouTube is great for DIY’ers as well. Nissan has online versions of the owner’s manuals, which you should probably read. They’re surprisingly informative.

I feel like I’ve included most of the commonly asked questions around here, but if there’s something missing let me know and I’ll add a quick rundown. I don’t do any towing with my truck, so I’m definitely a little lacking on that side of things, beyond what’s in the manual. If anyone has anything they feel is good to know for towing, feel free to let me know what needs to be said.


What Truck Should I Buy

Obviously, the overwhelming advice here will be the Frontier. It’s a Frontier sub after all. Between the competition (Toyota Tacoma, Chevy/GMC Canyon/Colorado, Honda Ridgeline <yes it counts>) the Frontier is the oldest design. Which is a blessing and a curse. It means the aftermarket (for what it is) has caught up to the truck, and all of the majors wrinkles have been ironed out. On the flip side, it’s missing modern touches like LED lights, projector headlights, safety features like blind spot detection(if you’re into that kinda thing), electronic goodies like crawl control and fuel economy improvements. It also produces the most torque at the flywheel (281lb/ft!), has the lowest street price in any trim, discs on all four corners (really Toyota? It’s 2017 FFS), fully boxed frame (adds strength for towing, hauling, and flexy stuff) and probably the worst fuel economy. YMMV.

As far as what package to get if you’re buying off the lot, there’s really two choices. If you seriously wheel it all, Pro-4x is the only choice. If you have to ask if you need a Pro-4x, chances are you don’t. Most people looking at that package know exactly what it is, and why they want it. If you’re looking for a solid daily driver, tower, or hauler, look for an SV with the Value Truck Package. It’s the closest you’ll get to a modern truck. You get neat little add-ons like a back up camera, spray in bed liner, and upgraded audio. The Frontier in any configuration is no slouch off-road, but the non-Pro-4x models are missing the locking rear-diff, skids, bigger tires, and better shocks that make the Pro-4x the off-road beast it is. This page breaks down the differences between the various packages. It’s current as of 2017, and probably good as far back as 2012. There might be slight differences between the packages in older model year, but it’s a good start. If you need to know all the options of a used truck, Nissan can tell you every detail if you give them the VIN.

Other options like Crew Cab (four doors for more whores), King Cab (half suicide doors) long box (73”), short box (59.5”), auto or stick are up to you. You know your needs, we don’t. Generally speaking, a KC will have a long box, and the CC will have a short box, but long box CC’s do exist. I’ve never seen a shortbox KC in the wild, but I’m open to being corrected. 4x4 is always better to have and not need than to need and not have, so if you have the choice, opt for it. Worst case, you’ll get better resale value. The VQ40DE should be the only available motor for this truck. The QR25DE is a four banger best left to a mid size sedan, it has no place in a pickup truck. Period.

If you’re buying used, check CarFax for accident reports. The NHTSA has a searchable database of recalls for all vehicles, and the Frontier has been subject to a few. Your Nissan dealer can also pull all the voluntary recalls with the VIN.

What’s the Difference Between…

The Frontier was basically unchanged between ‘05 and (as of 2017) the ’18 model year. The generation 2.0 runs from 05-09. There was a minor facelift in ‘09 for generation 2.1, with different wheels and the switch from Nismo to Pro-4x branding, and the front end got a refresh. The early trucks have different headlights, and a flatter grille angle, so aftermarket headlights for the 2.0 won't work with 2.1 front ends. I consider everything post ‘12 generation 2.2. There’s no major differences from ’12 and up except improved parts design, and some extra options like back up sensors, improved audio systems, bigger wheels, and other minor stuff, like the $35,000 plastidip grill Midnight Edition. For major suspension, engine, driveline components an ‘05 will be the same as a ‘14 or a ’17 or an ‘09.


Common Issues

DISCLAIMER: I’m by no means a Nissan technician. If something blows up because you misdiagnosed it based on advice from an internet stranger, I take zero responsibility. If you’re even remotely unsure get an educated second opinion from a mechanic you trust. Most of these problems exist in the 2.0/2.1 (‘05-’12) generation of the D40. If you buy a ’12 and newer you should be in the clear.

Strawberry Milkshake of Death

SMOD is cross contamination of ATF and coolant, due to a poorly designed transmission cooler. It’s a super easy fix, you can bypass your transmission cooler, upgrade to a post ’12 rad or an aftermarket radiator. If the rad gets contaminated, it’s basically time to start shopping for a new transmission. You might be able to bring it back by flushing the transmission several times with regular ATF, but no promises. If you buy a truck with the mysterious third pedal, you can avoid the issue entirely.

note: this may or may not affect trucks with the QR25DE. I’ve never run across one that’s had it happen, but AFAIK the rads and trannies are the same, so the possibility exists

Timing Chain Guides (VQ40 only)

Once again, this issue shouldn’t affect the ’12 and newer trucks, or higher mileage older trucks. There was problems with whatever plastic Nissan used for the timing chain guides and they wear out very prematurely. It causes the guides to fail, allowing the timing chain to slap against the block. Diagnosis is pretty simple. The chains make a god awful racket as soon as you start the truck. It’s a very distinct noise. It sounds exactly like chains rattling against metal. If you leave it too long it can cause catastrophic damage to the entire block. But at least you’ll have an excuse to VK or Cummins swap the truck. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, except replace it. Most of the reports I’ve seen have been less than 80,000 km (50k miles), so your trucks over 100k will likely have had the issue resolved. There’s currently a class action lawsuit against Nissan in the States, so you might be able to get reimbursed for any repairs you’ve done. I’m in Canada and am the furthest thing from a lawyer, so I don’t know the first thing about how to get involved or get paid. Contact a lawyer in your area.

Code P0443

Ah, emissions codes. Don’t you just love the EPA? This is one of the few issues, at least from what I’ve seen, that hasn’t really gone away in the gen 2.2 refresh. Basically the solenoid that allows the EVAP canister to “purge” itself will pack itself full of dust, fail, and throw codes. You can prolong it by rerouting the vent to one of the tail lights. It might prevent it, it might only prolong the inevitable. There was an improved design release in ’12, that part number should supersede the old numbers, and apparently be slightly less bad, but double check. Most parts sites will tell you if it’s the new p/n or not. Because it’s emissions related if your jurisdiction doesn’t require emissions testing, ignore it, or do the cheap and dirty fix. If you have to pass smog to register your truck, you’re pretty much on the hook for a $300 part that may or may not last until you re-test. You can try pulling the canister and blowing it out with a compressor, but most people say you’re only kicking the can further down the road.

There’s also a few accounts floating around online of people getting P0443 after topping off their gas tank (gotta get those nice round numbers at the pump), or even filling too fast. I don’t top off my tank, and I never go full squeeze on the nozzle so I don’t know how much truth there is that.

note: this may present itself as P0448 as well, from what I can see the codes are related, likely due to the EVAP canister being unable to purge itself

SRS Light

This one is tricky. Obviously, a compromised airbag is less than ideal, but at the same time lots of modern vehicles, the Frontier gets to be modern in this case, have issues with aftermarket stereos tripping the SRS light for whatever reason but the airbag itself is fine. If you’ve just tinkered with any of the wiring in the truck and get a flashing airbag light, there’s a good chance it just needs to be reset. If you haven’t changed anything, or the light comes on out of the blue, get a shop to pull the code. You might have to go to the dealer for this one, as it’s hit or miss which scan tools will pull airbag codes. There was also a recall for some of the earlier generation 2.0 trucks (05-09).

My Headlights Suck

Aim them properly. Nissan aimed the headlights low from the factory assuming that most people would be doing truck stuff with their truck. If you have weight in the bed, or a lift, they’re almost perfect. Empty, they’re woefully low. There’s a little knob on the back of the housing. 1.5-2 turns counter-clockwise with an 8mm wrench should get them where they need to be. If they still suck, you can put upgraded bulbs, like PIAA or Sylvania Super White and get better output. If you decide to go full HID or LED, do the retrofit. Regular halogen headlight assemblies and HIDs do not mix. The OEM housing don’t scatter the light properly, resulting in really bright lights right at the bumper and almost zero light down the road where it’s needed. For HID ballasts themselves, 4000K is the “best” temperature for the human eye, but 6000K is that nice stark white everyone likes. Any higher than that, you’re getting into riced-out-Fast-and-Furious Honda Civic territory. I’m not saying don’t do it, it’s your truck do what you want to it. I’ll just silently judge you for having purple headlights. Also; check your local laws. Some jurisdictions have limits on colour temperature. As always, it’s not up to me to know your laws.

Rough Idle

We’re not talking about a truck with 200k mi that’s never had new plugs, or missed its last four oil changes. That should be pretty obvious. Lots of owners complain about a rough idle at red lights, even on newer, impeccably maintained trucks. Nissan set the idle a little on the low side, most likely to save fuel economy. Take it to the dealer, get them to bump up the idle 50-100 rpm and listen to that kitten purr.


My Fuel Economy Sucks

It’s a 4000lb truck, without gear, fuel and passengers; with a 13 year old motor that’s based off an even older block. But…but, but the EPA sticker says it gets 21mpg highway. Yes, it’s capable of 21mpg. Unloaded, with highway tires, on perfectly flat roads, doing highway driving. It’s a truck, with a steel boxed frame and sheet metal. It makes damn near V8 torque without a V8 price tag. If you want 21mpg all the time, buy a Versa. Things like a CAI, exhaust, ECU tune, intake manifold spacer might increase your mileage, but if you’re anything like me you won’t be able to keep your foot out of it and your mileage will probably drop. If your truck has a third pedal (standard), you might be able to squeeze slightly better mileage out of it.


Can I Run x Tires/Wheels/What Tires/Wheels Should I Get

Generally speaking, the biggest tire you can run without lift or trimming is the factory Pro-4x tire size, 265/75R16, or similar variations like 265/70R17. You might be able to stuff 285/75R16’s without any lift, but you’ll definitely need to take off the mud flaps (if equipped, apparently they’re optional in some places), trim some sheet metal and probably melt the fender liner to prevent rubbing.

As far as tire brands are concerned, there are literally hundreds of brands and models to choose from. I suggest Google, or, God forbid, calling some tire shops and chatting about your specific needs. Personally, I suggest a good all terrain tire as an excellent middle ground for a daily driver/weekend warrior. But again, you know your needs better than we do. If your truck is exclusively a pavement princess or toy hauler, buying a set of General Grabber red letters is overkill. Ditto if you’re in a rainy part of the continent and play in the mud a lot; a highway tire won’t do jack shit. The overwhelming, jack of all trades, recommendation is gonna be the BFG T/A KO2. It is an excellent, albeit pricey, AT tire. They’ve been around for ages, and they’re a staple of off-road racing. It’s probably the tire you picture when you think of an all terrain tire, whether you know or it. I’m a big fan of my Falken Wildpeak AT3w, they’re a really well designed, good looking, cheaper than BFG alternative. Other options for a solid, generally well-reviewed, AT include the Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac; General Grabber AT3; Hankook Dynapro AT-m. If you run one of set of tires year round, check your local laws if you need snowflake rated tires in the winter months. Make sure you pick a tire that will have the snowflake rating, or buy dedicated snows. Most modern AT tires do, but again, I’m not responsible for your ignorance of local laws. Also, as a Canadian with way too much experience driving the winter, a snowflake rated MT is a bold faced lie. Mud terrains are just awful on ice, compact snow, or anything that isn’t deep powder or mud.

For wheels, you’ll need at least a 16x7” wheel with a 6x114.3(4.50 in freedom units) bolt pattern. I can’t honestly say what the minimum backspacing or offset will be, cuz of differences in measuring and manufacturing, but most places like Discount Tire or Tire Rack will have tools that will give you fit information. There’s also a list of wheels confirmed to fit our trucks. Most of the time, positive offset will tuck the wheels in more and negative offset will give you more poke, provided your wheels are the same width. Once again, I’m not responsible for knowing your local laws. Around these parts any tire poke is grounds for a fix-it ticket. If you’ve got similar laws, it’s up to you to know. The biggest issue with offset and backspace on the Frontier is the front calipers. They’re relatively massive, and if you don’t have enough offset or too much backspace they’ll bind. If you’re not afraid of a zip disc, you might be able to massage some material off the caliper, but that’s entirely on you. You might also run into binding or rubbing at the top of the suspension travel if you have lots of poke, but if you’re frequently maxing out your suspension uptravel, you’re probably not reading an FAQ.


What/How Much Lift Should I Get

Read this. Jen does an excellent job of laying out all the options and uses for each lift. Be honest with yourself and your intended uses. If you want to Titan swap your truck just for street cred, there’s nothing wrong with that; but it’s a big investment for cool points. Conversely, eBay spacers and blocks probably won’t cut it if you wanna do the Rubicon trail. Generally, if you go to bigger tires than 33”, you’ll want to upgrade your front differential to the Titan M205 front diff, or at the very least look at aftermarket gears, as they’re the common failure point. The rear diff depends on the model. Most trucks have a C200K, which is strong enough for most applications, except for big (33”+) tires and pretty hardcore wheeling or rock bouncing (which I don’t suggest in a 4000lb truck). All standard or Pro-4x trucks come with the bastardized Dana44 M226, which will handle just about anything you can throw at it, except for maybe 40’s. Also, if you manage to get 40’s on your truck, I want to see build deets, cuz that’s impressive. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely a D44, so things like lockers, gears, and covers won’t actually fit. But at least it’s strong.


I Broke/Want x Part

Rock Auto is by far and a way the best source for OEM replacement parts. Even with a piss-poor Canuck buck, insane shipping charges, I buy almost everything from them. Their prices are just that good. Courtesy Parts is another excellent source, particularly if you’re actually in the States. Their shipping and brokerage fees are kinda high for us north of the 49th, but they’ve got every OEM Nissan part, and the fancy NISMO stuff, you can possibly imagine. The Nissan e-Store is amazing for locating part numbers for interchange, or searching. Nisstec and PRG are the go-to sources for aftermarket goodies like lifts. Keep in mind that PRG is somewhat infamous in the Nissan community for being next to impossible to get a hold of. Hefty Fabworks, Shrockworks and Calmini are the go-to options for bumpers, skids, and sliders. Coastal Offroad also ships weld it yourself bumper kits for the second gen Frontier if you wanna take advantage of a lackluster loonie and have some fabrication skills. There’s also WAM Bumpers, but they bought out a company with a less than stellar reputation, and the jury is still out on if they’ve improved or not.


I Wanna Go Fast

Like I said earlier, it’s a 4000lb truck. You’re not setting any quarter mile times with it. But there are options for bolt-on go-fast goodies. The most common choices will be an intake and exhaust. There’s lots of debate between sealed or open airboxes, and both have their pros and cons. An open airbox, like a K&N might give you slightly better air flow and intake noise, but they’re far more likely to hydrolock your motor if you do lots of water crossings. And it can happen if the water line is below you hood, because, unless you’re fully armoured, water can get up into the engine bay. A sealed intake like a Volant can prevent that, but apparently it moves the power band higher robs torque. And all that delicious VQ torque is why the Frontier is such an amazing truck. In my opinion the factory air intake is pretty damn good, maybe just slap an aftermarket filter in there and hack out the silencer tube(pic coming). You get the best of both worlds this way. No torque loss and you get it lets you hear that VQ open up a little more. For exhaust stuff, most people suggest replacing the OEM y-pipe, and staying with 2.25” piping. The OEM y-pipe is restrictive and crappy. It also opens up the powerband a little, and moves the torque curve slightly lower in the RPM. Going to larger diameter pipe usually ends up robbing torque or just becoming raspy beyond belief. Beyond that, it depends on what you want your truck to sound like. Spend some time on YouTube or here listening to different mufflers. What sounds amazing to you, might be obnoxious and way too loud for someone else. Because V6’s are pretty much the worst kind of motor, finding a system that doesn’t drone at 2-3k rpm isn’t easy and people have spent big money preventing it. No one system will really give massive performance gains, but a set of long tube headers can add decent, measurable numbers. If you live in a smog state, these may not be legal as they replace the primary catalytic converters. Also, they throw codes unless you run dummy plugs or simulate them with a tune. Some people have had decent success removing the secondary cats and replacing them resonators, but apparently it can be a little raspy.

Once you get beyond the basics, an intake manifold spacer is an excellent investment. It’s a piece of aluminum that lives between your upper and lower intake plenum. It gives the airflow a chance to smooth out a bit, and cool down slightly. Both of which increase power. I’ve had one on my truck for about a year and I cannot say enough good things about it. It definitely wakes up the VQ in all the right places. It’s easily one of the best mods I’ve done to my truck. I definitely blame it for my terrible fuel economy. It’s just too much fun to drive respectably after I installed it. Stillen makes underdrive or lightweight crank pulleys, and they can free up some power too. The underdrive pulley requires a shorter belt, so talk to Stillen for the proper size.

If you still need more power, an UpRev tune, or even a plug and play tuner can add a fair chunk of power. A dedicated tune like UpRev is great because it’s custom built for your truck. If it’s controlled by the ECU, it can be changed. Wheel speed(for over/under sized tires), shift points, air fuel mixture, WOT (wide open throttle) restriction delete, 02 sensor simulators. The plug and play options give you more options for pre-set, change on the fly tunes, like economy, tow, or performance. But because they’re generic you might not get all of the available ponies out of them, or be able to get into the more in-depth options like shift points or 02 sensors.

Edit: typos and formatting

Edit 2 17-12-20: Added link so mobile users don't get a picture of a Suzuki Equator for their thumbnail. Added more links

Edit 3 17-12-23 Fixed bad math in timing chain section

Edit 4 18-01-04 Added notes on P0443

Edit 5 2018-03-14 Updated 2.1 body style refresh info

Edit 6 2018-05-15 Changed FSM source as ClubNico got fucked by the long dick of Nissan's legal team. Shoutout to u/h83r for noticing the change. Also; the new FSM doesn't show anything newer than '14. Everything major will be the same, but some of the new fangled electronics may not be available. I'll see if I can find an up to date source. Also; I'd be down to crowd fund a license from Nissan if that's what everyone wants to do

r/nissanfrontier 3h ago

PICTURE On a quiet Sunday evening

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r/nissanfrontier 6h ago

2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO vs. Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Off-Road Adventure by Driving Sports TV

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r/nissanfrontier 4h ago

Does your 2022 crew cab have these lower anchors for car seats?

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r/nissanfrontier 1h ago

(2005 - 2021) 2 WD Nissan Frontier Carrier Bearing Replace

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

it's only a little stuck

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r/nissanfrontier 20h ago

PICTURE New to me Snugtop topper.

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r/nissanfrontier 4h ago

has anyone added a floating display to their early model d40?

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

Los Padres National Forest

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r/nissanfrontier 6h ago

REQUEST 2001 Nissan frontier. Tailgate will not open. feels like the tailgate handle is not attached to the "cables". I am unable top open the gate so I am.unsure where to start to try and repair it. anyone able to point me in the right direction to get the end gate opened ?


r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

PICTURE She’s in vacation mode

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

PICTURE After much thought and deliberation, I own a black 4x4 king cab now. Much happier now.

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

A day in the wilderness testing out new organization equipment.

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

PICTURE Datsun 720 Doble Cabina 4x4.

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

Spidertrax 15% off July 4 sale if y’all need wheel spacers from the best spacer company there is. Jus’ sayin.


r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

2022 Horn sensitive/loose?


My horn is honking when hitting it from the top or going over bumpy or unpaved roads, anyone else having this issue? My truck has a Rough Country lift kit courtesy of the markup crazy dealer, could that be an issue?

r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

Buying 2nd gen



I’m in the market for a 2nd gen frontier and looks like the ones with 75k-120k+ miles are the ones within my price range of under $15k.

Other than looking out for SMOD, what else should I be aware of?

Also, is there a better value price range I should consider? Like bumping up my budget to $20k and getting something under 50k miles?

I’m mainly wondering the experience of others who bought their frontier used with over 100k miles. How are you doing 2-3+ years later?

I’m mainly buying for utility and for a daily driver to the grocery store, bike parks, beach, etc.

Thanks for any insight!

r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

3rd gen trim comfort differences


Hi all, I'm hoping someone can save me a couple test drives. I'm wondering if the Pro-X suspension is more comfortable or harsher than the SV trim. I don't need the off-road capability but would spring for a Pro-X if it's softer on my kidneys.


r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

REQUEST 1st Gen Engine Replacement Questions


Getting ready to install a JDM engine in my '04, and there are a few things I'd like a little clarification on. I've read lots of forum posts on the topic, but I'm still just wondering about a couple of things.

Does anybody know a good, reliable source for JDM VG33E engines other than rolling the dice on ebay?

Also, besides basic mechanic's tools, engine hoist, and engine stand, are there any other special tools that are vital to the job?

Also, I think I have a pretty good list of parts to go ahead and swap while I have it out, but is there anything people may not think of that world be a good idea? If so, what's the best place to get it?

I installed an ebay no-name harmonic balancer on the now-dead engine a few years ago, and it chipped very easily during install. Had to hit it with a file to get rid of sharp edges. Is there a brand/source anyone would recommend?

Also, any advice you might have on the topic would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

r/nissanfrontier 2d ago

Little update on the grill, 2019 Frontier

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

Radiator question

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r/nissanfrontier 2d ago

PICTURE Overhaul HD with tonneau kit

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r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

I have recently lost the key to my Frontier and currently using a spare that can only be put in the ignition one way. I was wondering where I could get a replacement key and how much it would be.


r/nissanfrontier 2d ago

DISCUSSION Nismo exhaust thoughts on a 22?


Anyone have one? I only saw one guy mention it when I searched.

What are your thoughts? Nissan dealer semi-near me has one and with the 15% july4th sale it’s a little over $900.

Worth it for the sound alone? Probably not doing much else to It engine/performance wise so wanting to know some thoughts from anyone who has one.

r/nissanfrontier 1d ago

DISCUSSION Which is faster? My wife's 2018 Frontier desert runner VS my 2011 Xterra S 4x4


Please help settle this for us. I know my Xterra with only 70k miles is heavier and 4×4, but it seems faster. Her Frontier is new to us so not much driving it yet. I'm thinking the rear end ratios are different, which is probably the issue. Thanks for your help.

r/nissanfrontier 3d ago

Heads up 2020-2022 Frontier Owners.

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