skip to content
Driving Line Mark Logo

2023 Ford Ranger vs 2023 Nissan Frontier: Has The Redesigned Frontier Pickup Surpassed The Popular Mid-Size Ranger Truck?

The 2023 Nissan Frontier enters the second year of its redesign looking to take back some of the market share it lost to competitors like the Ford Ranger during the years it sat dormant. While the recent Frontier is a big step forward for the mid-size pickup, there are a few areas where it might have a bit of trouble prying away loyal Ranger owners.

2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X rear 3/4

Here's a look at how the 2023 Ford Ranger and the 2023 Nissan Frontier stack up against each other, and what the Ranger moving to a new platform next year could mean for this rivalry.

Under The Hood

The Nissan Frontier boasts a 3.8L V6 engine that's tuned to provide 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, numbers that are, on paper at least, competitive among mid-size pickups. A nine-speed automatic sends that output to the rear wheels (with low-range four-wheel drive available as an option), and fuel economy sits at 18-mpg city and 24-mpg highway for base models. In the real world, the Frontier isn't exactly quick, and the nine-speed has a surprising amount of trouble maintaining a highway pace when traveling uphill, requiring rapid gear shifts to boost revs. Actual fuel consumption also comes in as thirstier than what's seen on the window sticker, especially during long-distance cruising.

2022 Ford Ranger FX4 side profile

The Ford Ranger is offered with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost motor that turbocharges its way to 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of twist, a near flip-flop of the Frontier's figures. Its gearbox one-ups the Nissan as well with 10 forward speeds, and overall it's a peppier drivetrain, especially in daily driving. It's also worth noting the upcoming Ford Ranger Raptor trim for 2024 that introduces a twin-turbo V6 that's good for 405 hp and 430 lb-ft of twist, making it the mightiest mid-sizer on the market. The four-cylinder Ranger sips fuel at the rate of 21-mpg city and 26-mpg highway when found in rear-wheel drive.

Off-Road Readiness

The primary off-road weapon in the Nissan Frontier's arsenal is its PRO-4X trim. This model of the truck gains skid plate protection, an electronic locking rear differential, up-sized all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, and a set of dash gauges that report on tilt, attitude, and power delivery (through the four-wheel drive system).

2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X front 3/4

The Ranger, on the other hand, provides a trio of trail-ready choices. The closest Ford gets to the PRO-4X is the FX4, which includes most of the above-listed equipment (upgraded shocks, skid plates, the trick differential), plus a terrain management system to further dial-in stability control and traction control when traversing various non-asphalt surfaces.

2022 Ford Ranger Tremor logo mud splattered

Next up is the Tremor, which graduates to even more aggressive suspension settings (including Fox shocks), taller ground clearance, as well as rock rails to keep the rocker panels protected. Then, finally, the upcoming Ranger Raptor, which moves to 2.5 Fox 'Live Valve' shocks (versus the 2.0 found in the Tremor) along with a long-travel suspension setup, a revised transfer case, and a locking differential up front (all riding on the next-generation Ranger platform that also arrives next year)

Bed Size And Towing

The Nissan Frontier is available with two bed sizes: five feet and six feet (rounding to the closest foot). The PRO-4X reduces you to the five-foot configuration by default. Payload for the truck maxes out at just over 1,600 pounds, while towing capacity climbs to 6,690 pounds when properly equipped.

2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X side profile

The Ford Ranger's bed options are a match for the Frontier, but it passes the Nissan when it comes to towing by tacking on close to 800 pounds of additional capacity. Payload is also roughly 300 pounds heavier, for certain models.

Comfort And Features

Neither the Frontier nor the Ranger could be considered to offer 'premium' level cabins or feature sets. Ford is on the verge of updating the Ranger to a new platform after milking as many years as possible out of the current global edition of the truck, and that should do much to help gussy up the plain plastics and presentation of even high-dollar 2023 trims.

2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X interior

Nissan has done a good job of improving the Frontier's interior trappings versus the dated edition it replaced, and in most areas its leap-frogs the Ranger in terms of presentation. Still, both of these trucks are aimed at functionality and practicality rather than outright plushness, and there aren't many extras of note that can be loaded into either pickup.


Nissan Frontier starts out at just over $29,000, with the most expensive model (the SV) adding another $10k to that amount. The PRO-4X sits just behind the SV with an MSRP of $38,900.

Ford Ranger off-road on Nittos

The least expensive Ranger is the two-wheel drive XL, which retails for $27,400. Step up to the priciest Lariat and you're looking at a $41,000 charge.

The Verdict

The Nissan Frontier feels like a more 'modern' pickup than the Ranger in several respects, particularly when it comes to both its interior and exterior design. In terms of driving experience, however, the Ford's power plant is easier to live with and more able to match its efficiency estimates.

2022 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X front view

The Ranger is also a better off-road choice for anyone who needs to step above the baseline set by the FX4/PRO-4X, with Nissan not having any direct answer for the Tremor trim. It's also unlikely that the 2024 Frontier will be see the same kind of performance injection given the Ranger Raptor.

Ford Ranger rock climbing off-road front view

That being said, these trucks are fairly close when it comes to capability, and with the new Ranger on the horizon, it's hard to recommend the current Ford over the Nissan. A waiting game is likely the best bet for fans of the Blue Oval, while those who've sat on the sidelines regarding the Frontier will likely be surprised by how improved the current Frontier truly is.

Return to beginning of article

Recommended For You

Loading ...