• 2017 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Ike Gauntlet Review: World’s Toughest Towing Test [Video]

    2017 nissan frontier 4x4 ike towing test review

    We are nearing the end of the 2017 Gold Hitch award testing. This is an annual competition to crown the top towing and off-road trucks in the land. The 2017 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X is competing in the midsize division against the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado V6 8-Speed and the 2017 GMC Canyon Denali Diesel.

    Although, this is the last truck in this group, and all the scores are published below – the final 2017 Gold Hitch award selection is not yet determined. TFLtruck crew will get together soon to make the final deliberations and decisions. We will take into account the Ike Gauntlet towing testing, as well as the highway MPG loop performance.

    The awards will be announced and given out in the evening of Apr 3rd, 2017.

    2017 Nissan Frontier Crew 4.0L V6 4×4 PRO-4X

    • Engine: 4.0L V6
    • Power: 261 @ 5,600 rpm
    • Torque: 281 @ 4,100 rpm
    • Transmission: 5-speed automatic
    • Rear Axle Ratio: 3.357
    • Max Towing: 6,450 lbs
    • Max Payload: 1,040 lbs
    • GVWR: 5,600 lbs
    • GCWR: 11,230 lbs
    • EPA-estimated Fuel Economy: // mpg (city/hwy/combined)
    • As-tested Price: $37,000

    All midsize trucks are hitched up to the same 6,100 lbs CM Trailers 14-foot Stocker trailer. We always use water for ballast, and set up the tongue weight around 600 lbs. We calculate the tongue weight at approximately 10% of the combined trailer weight.


    We test downhill performance by starting the 8 mile downhill at 50 MPH (which is the speed limit inside the tunnel). We use the tow/haul mode (and exhaust brake if equipped) and let the truck do its thing. If it accelerates past 60 MPH, which is the speed limit, then we apply the brake firmly to slow down to 50 MPH. We count the number of time we have to apply the brakes in this fashion. Every time we touch the brakes on the way down, the truck looses a point.

    We received several questions about the Grade Braking being enabled on the truck when we were testing it. We double-checked this. Yes, Grade Braking was “Active” during the Ike Gauntlet run.


    We time the truck on the way up (8 mile stretch of the interstate on a 7% grade going from around 9,000 feet to 11,158 feet of elevation). We also take note of the truck’s average MPG as reported by the trip computer. The benchmark time is 8 minutes. This assumes that the truck accelerated quickly, and maintained 60 MPH the entire way up the hill. Every 5 seconds over the time goal subtracts a point from the truck’s overall score. The benchmark MPG number is 6.0MPG. Every 0.2 MPG below that, and the truck looses a point.


    Each reviewer that participates in the test is given a maximum of 25 points for their subjective opinion. These scores are averaged and added to the downhill and uphill objective scores. The final score is stated out of maximum possible 100 points.

    2017 Midsize Trucks:

    Towing a 6,100 lbs cargo trailer.

    Year Make Model Down (Num. Brakes) Up (Time) Up (MPG)  Subjective (Avg) Ike Score
    2017 Chevy Colorado Crew 4×4 V6 5 08:18.92 4.9 20 80
    2017 GMC Canyon Crew 4×4 D I4 1 09:11.50 6.9 22 87
    2017 Nissan Frontier Crew 4×4 V6 8 08:45.87 3.7 17 63

    Check out all the towing fun in the video below.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

    22 thoughts on “2017 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Ike Gauntlet Review: World’s Toughest Towing Test [Video]

    1. Wondering Andre on the down hill grade test do you use cruise control . Thanks you guys are awesome

    2. I thought the Frontier might surprise people in the mid-size category but was wrong about that. I think the 5 speed holds it back. The motor is an old design but is still a good truck motor.

    3. Andre, Will the Tacoma and the Ridgeline also be considered in this category? I understand the Honda only has a 5,000 lbs towing capacity.

      1. No, the Tacoma and the Ridgeline are not participating in the 2017 awards. However, we did run the 2016 Tacoma and the 2017 Ridgeline on the Ike Gauntlet. You can find these reviews on our website or channel.


        1. Andre,
          How do you determine each year which trucks will compete for the Gold Hitch award? It seems like if any of them should not be included it would be Nissan. Same truck since 2005. Toyota and Honda both are new.

          Keep up the good work! I check your website multiple times a day and look for the YouTube videos almost daily.

    4. It looks like the frontier did pretty good. Especially for the price. I was rather impressed it stayed over 50 mph up the IKE.

    5. Good solid truck, still has the proper motor with great throttle response that beats the new Tacoma. However, for the oldest truck to have class leading torque in the gas engines just shows us how stagnant the midsize segment is. Very minimal power to weight ratio gains that just went downhill from 25 years ago with the odd little jump and back down again. The first auto maker to put a V8 in one of these new sized midsize trucks is going to reap sales rewards and MPG will likely be better in a V8 than in a V6 under real world driving conditions as they can sit at lower rpms.

      But this is a great truck compared to the rest with the second best body clearance and ground clearance in the shortest truck you can buy in the midsize which is the midsized Kryptonite; is length and the Frontier has them all beat. Tacoma went and got 4 inches longer. To me it has the best power for city driving, the easiest to park and fit in a garage that has great body clearance for on and off road challenges that retains a good payload and towing capacity.

      For some reason the Tacoma Pro is only rated at a 950Lb payload in manual and 1000 in automatic. That is getting too low even for a midsize.

      And for the price this truck is at, it is honest and has luxuries the other trucks do not, being the shortest with good throttle response in all gears with good ground clearance and a suspension that can swallow big potholes with great body and ground clearance with a nice tire package.

    6. My dream midsize truck right now would be a Tacoma TRD Pro with a 2.7tt motor and 10spd auto from Ford – Power to weight, size, mog, ratio near perfect as you get!!!

      1. Interesting recipe for a cool truck! I would add the BFG KO2 tires to this for improved traction.

    7. It’s funny that people find the Frontier, old as it is, attractive vs. the Tacoma and GM Twins for the same reason that people still find the Tundra, old as it is, attractive vs. its much newer competitors: great throttle response in all gears, longevity, ground clearance.

      Too many manufacturers are coming out with new trucks with ever softer throttle response, worse quality due to the race to always have the newest gadgetry, and lower and lower front ends and chin spoilers.

      That these old Frontiers are still selling is a testament to the winning formula being: make it snappy, make it last, and make it a *truck*, not a car with a bed.

    8. I like the frontier better then the Tacoma.The Tacoma’s front beak snout grill is funny looking.

    9. Had to sell my ’11 Frontier back in March of last year. Two young children in rear-facing seats just wouldn’t fly. Best vehicle I’ve ever owned. Once the kids go forward-facing, I’ll be getting another.

    10. Good video Andre.

      The price of the truck makes it attractive for the buyer.

      This old big v-6 is short lived. Most likely see a much smaller one in the next new frontier.

      1. I hope they just put DI in it and keep displacement the same kinda like the Titan. A 4.0 DI motor could be solid especially if they tune it like GM did where torque is quite a bit higher than hp(355hp/383 tq) and nice and flat.

    11. One thing that is kind of appealing to me about this truck is the “Titan swap.” You can literally bolt in a set of titan control arms and half shafts to get a dirt cheap, “oem”, mid travel suspension with some serious articulation.

    12. Don’t know what the tongue weight was but the rear end seems to be squatting enough to lighten the steering. Not the safest…

    13. Interesting that the Silverado (a full size truck with a 6.2 litre V8) got better fuel economy towing up the Ike than this Frontier.

      This engine is still strong with good torque but it is too thirsty by modern standards. In need of an update which will no doubt come eventually.

    14. Also interesting that the Frontier was replaced in the rest of the world about 2 years ago now. That seems a long time to delay the North American launch. Maybe Nissan think you will all hate the NP300 in North America.

    Comments are closed.