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Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition – Great Sportsman’s Pickup


Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?While some buyers love the blacked-out look on their vehicles for its “coolness”, the styling does work for another purpose – sportsman. Seriously it does! The 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition mostly nails the blacked-out look and hits a lot of other top buying needs for an avid sportsman. Here’s why.

2018 Nissan Frontier Overview

Before we get into the sportsman angle, let’s step back and discuss what the Nissan Frontier is these days. In automotive journalism terms it is simply outdated with regards to the competition. It dates back to 2004 and is officially the 2nd generation of the Nissan pickup following after the Hardbody line of pickups.

Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?As mid-size pickups have grown in both size, capability and price, the Nissan Frontier has held the line offering a smaller size, cheaper price and really as much capability as a mid-size pickup needs.

You can find the pickup on dealer lots starting at $18k with a top price in the mid $30ks for all the bells and whistles.

What’s New?

With the age of the pickup, you might be thinking Nissan hasn’t really done a lot for it. Frankly, they don’t have to. It has seen a rebirth in sales lately and it is a profit machine. However, Nissan hasn’t ignored it.

Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?New this year is a standard rearview camera, standard a/c, cruise control, Bluetooth Hands-free phone, 5.0-inch color display audio and Siri Eyes Free. You might be wondering about some of these options, but Nissan does sell this is a very base trim for some fleet truck applications.

Also, new is the midnight edition. This special edition comes with a host of blacked out features like grille, step rails, bumpers, mirrors, door handles and badging. Interestingly, this blacked-out look doesn’t extend to the Nissan badge, only the name badge, and I’d suspect this was merely an issue getting Japan to approve of blacking that out (they probably didn’t want to). A bit of black plasti-dip should take care of that badge as well.

Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?Another blacked-out item are the 18-inch gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels. These wheels are great because, unlike chrome, you can scratch them up and you can’t tell they are beat up as much. They are also great for parking in the woods and being more camouflaged to wild game. More on that later.

Powering the mid-size pickup is a 4.0L V6 mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission (6-speed manual is available) producing 261 HP and 281 lb-ft of torque. It is a pretty torquey powertrain setup and is a lot of fun to drive. Fuel economy is rather disappointing at 15/21/17 city/highway/combined but those additional fuel costs are quickly overcome with a lower purchase price.

Sportsman Pickup What?!?

Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?

My dog agrees with my point of view.

Ok, I’ve kept you waiting long enough on this. The 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition is a great sportsman pickup. There I said it. Why?

First, sportsman really use their pickups for … well pickups. Yes, they don’t need all the luxury features. Seriously, you name me one guy who climbs into their luxury pickup with mud on their boots, deer scents on their shirts and blood on their hands or pants. I’m sure they exist, but not the sportsman I know.

The sportsman I know want to crawl into their pickup and not worry about making a mess of it. With cloth seats and a hard plastic interior, this pickup can take that abuse.

Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?

Maybe golf is your version of enjoying the outdoors. Golf bags fit perfectly in the bed.

Next the blacked-out treatment. This is a great sportsman feature. Why? Have you ever gone goose hunting and have birds constantly flaring away? You have, I have, we all have. Geese, like other animals, have great eyesight and things that reflect light aka chrome can scare them off. Well, after you plasti-dip the Nissan badge, there is no chrome on this pickup besides the really minor tips on the lug nuts. Getting this truck in either black or gunmetal means you can park it into the woods and it won’t stand out like other trucks.

Plus, its smaller size makes it easier to hide in the trees. Bonus!

Review: 2018 Nissan Frontier Midnight Edition - Great Sportsman Pickup?

Loading deer or working on a lawnmower, the tailgate height is perfect.

Also handy is the fact you can put a deer in the back with a LOT less effort than a full-size pickup. How’s that? The tailgate is much lower than a full-size pickup making for a lot less effort to get it in.

Finally, what about reliability? Nobody likes being stranded out in the woods. According to J.D. Power, it gets high marks for quality and predicted reliability. No concern there.

Also worth noting. If you are shopping for one, make sure you check out the PRO-4X edition as well with the Bilstein shocks, 16″ all terrain tires and skid plates equal a lot of fun!

While sure, there are newer and flashier pickups on the market, the Nissan Frontier is hard to beat. A brand new reliable pickup for less than a small house (yes, pickup prices have gotten insane) that does everything you need it to is a good sportsman pickup in my book. It should be in yours too.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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