The Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger are two very different competitors in the same crowded segment. One is clearly faster, but not necessarily better.
We raced the Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger over a mile above sea level in Colorado. We are on the verge of seeing a flood of new midsize pickups entering production equipped with four-banger turbos, and the Ford Ranger was one of the first. In our market, V6s are slowly vanishing from midsize pickups. Ford, GM, and (most likely) Toyota are embracing smaller displacement turbo fours – leaving Jeep, Honda, and Nissan with the remaining V6s – for now.
Many argue that V6s are smoother, more reliable, and more robust. Four-banger turbo fans embrace better economy, lighter weight, and gobs of thrust. When you live at a high elevation, turbocharging makes all the difference. That was pretty damn noticeable when we raced the Ford Ranger against the 2023 Nissan Frontier.
Here’s how they stack up.
The Ford Ranger comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 270 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm. That power is fed through a 10-speed automatic transmission leading to a 3.73 rear end. According to Ford, our super-crew 4×4 weighs 4,600 lbs.
Like Nissan, Ford currently offers only this one engine/transmission combination.
The 2023 Nissan Frontier is a mix of new and old. Frontier’s fairly new 3.8-liter V6 makes 310 hp @ 6,400 rpm and 281 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm. This power is fed through a nine-speed automatic transmission to a 3.69 rear end. Nissan says our PRO-4X weighs over 4,900 lbs.
Despite having the horsepower advantage, the Nissan is heavier and air-density chokes those ponies. Fortunately, we are comparing more than just acceleration, and Nissan did surprisingly well in one of those comparisons. On top of that, we all feel that the more modern feel of Nissan’s interior is worth some points too.
Yes, we all know that the Ford Ranger is on the cusp of a series of revisions. Despite our Ranger being a few years old, its performance is on par with a 2023 model. That is to say, we’re not favoring sNissan in any way.
Check out the video and see how they compare!