2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/04

The Ranger has standard Automatic Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Frontier doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Ford Ranger has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Frontier doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Ranger’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Frontier doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Ranger offers optional parking sensors to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Frontier doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The Ranger’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Frontier doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Ranger’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Frontier doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Ranger’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Frontier doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Ranger has standard 911 Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Frontier doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Ranger and the Frontier have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras and available four-wheel drive.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Ford Ranger SuperCrew is safer than the Frontier Crew Cab:

Ranger

Frontier

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

108

313

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

4 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

20 cm

32 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.3/.4 kN

.6/3.3 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

MARGINAL

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.76/1.15

1.77/1.37

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the general design of front seat head restraints for their ability to protect front seat occupants from whiplash injuries. The IIHS also performs a dynamic test on those seats with “good” or “acceptable” geometry. In these ratings, the Ranger is safer than the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Restraint Design

GOOD

GOOD

Distance from Back of Head

16 mm

44 mm

Distance Below Top of Head

46 mm

48 mm

Dynamic Test Rating

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Seat Design

Pass

Pass

Torso Acceleration

11.9 g’s

12.4 g’s

Neck Force Rating

Low

Medium

Max Neck Shearing Force

0

152

Max Neck Tension

437

645

(Lower numerical results are better in all tests.)

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Ranger the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 202 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Frontier was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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There are almost 3 times as many Ford dealers as there are Nissan dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Ranger’s warranty.

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Ranger’s reliability 30 points higher than the Frontier.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Ranger first among midsize pickups in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Frontier was rated second.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 7th.

Engine

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The Ranger’s 2.3 turbo 4-cylinder produces 29 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 281) than the Frontier’s 3.8 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Ranger gets better fuel mileage than the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier

4x2

2.3 turbo /10-spd. Auto

21 city/26 hwy

18 city/24 hwy

3.8 V6/Auto

4x4

2.3 turbo /10-spd. Auto

20 city/24 hwy

17 city/23 hwy

3.8 V6/Auto

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Ranger’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Frontier doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Ranger has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Frontier doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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A ten-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Ranger, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the Frontier.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Ranger’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier King Cab

Frontier Crew Cab

Front Rotors

12.2 inches

11.1 inches

11.7 inches

Rear Rotors

12.1 inches

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

The Ranger stops shorter than the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier

70 to 0 MPH

190 feet

199 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

150 feet

156 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/04

The Ranger’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 70 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Frontier PRO-4X’s standard 75 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Ranger has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Frontier base model’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Ranger’s wheelbase is longer than on the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier

Extended Cab Standard Bed

126.8 inches

125.9 inches

Crew Cab Short Bed

126.8 inches

125.9 inches

The Ranger XLT SuperCrew 4x4 handles at .78 G’s, while the Frontier Crew Cab 4x4 pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Ranger’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the Frontier King Cab 4x4’s (42 feet vs. 43.33 feet). The Ranger’s turning circle is 5.8 feet tighter than the Frontier Long Bed Crew Cab’s (42 feet vs. 47.75 feet).

Passenger Space

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The Ranger SuperCab has .1 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front legroom, 5 inches more rear legroom, .3 inches more rear hip room and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Frontier King Cab.

The Ranger SuperCrew has .7 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more front hip room and .9 inches more rear legroom than the Frontier Crew Cab.

Cargo Capacity

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The Ranger SuperCab has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier King Cab shortbed (51.8 vs. 33.5 cubic feet).

The Ranger SuperCrew has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier Crew Cab shortbed (43.3 vs. 27.1 cubic feet). The Ranger SuperCrew has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier Crew Cab longbed (43.3 vs. 33.5 cubic feet).

The Ranger’s cargo box is larger than the Frontier’s in almost every dimension:

Ranger SuperCrew

Ranger SuperCab

Frontier King Cab

Frontier Crew Cab

Length (short/long)

61”

72.8”

73.3”

59.5”/73.3”

Max Width

61.4”

61.4”

61.4”

61.4”

Min Width

44.8”

44.8”

44.4”

44.4”

Height

20.8”

20.8”

18”

18”

Payload and Towing

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The Ranger’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Frontier’s (7500 vs. 6250 pounds).

The Ranger can be flat towed on all four wheels (dinghy towed), allowing recreational vehicle owners to bring it with them on the road. When they reach their destination, the Ranger can be unhitched and driven around locally. The Frontier can’t be towed flat on the ground.

The Ranger has a much higher standard payload capacity than the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier

Extended Cab

1860 lbs.

1460 lbs.

Crew Cab

1770 lbs.

1020 lbs.

Extended Cab 4x4

1650 lbs.

1340 lbs.

Crew Cab 4x4

1560 lbs.

1020 lbs.

The Ranger has higher optional payload capacities than the Frontier:

Ranger

Frontier

Extended Cab

1860 lbs.

1460 lbs.

Crew Cab

1770 lbs.

1460 lbs.

Extended Cab 4x4

1650 lbs.

1360 lbs.

Crew Cab 4x4

1560 lbs.

1360 lbs.

Servicing Ease

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The Ranger uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Frontier uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Ranger to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Nissan doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Frontier.

Ergonomics

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The Ranger has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Frontier doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The engine computer on the Ranger automatically engages the starter until the car starts with one twist of the key and disables the starter while the engine is running. The Frontier’s starter can be accidentally engaged while the engine is running, making a grinding noise and possibly damaging the starter and ring gear.

The Ranger’s standard tilting steering column adjusts to different sized drivers and makes entering and exiting easier. Nissan doesn’t offer tilt steering on the Frontier S King Cab.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Ranger has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Frontier doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Ranger’s driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The Frontier’s power windows’ switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Ranger’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Frontier doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Ranger’s available exterior PIN entry system. The Frontier doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system.

Intelligent Access standard on the Ranger Lariat allows you to unlock the driver’s door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Nissan Frontier’s Push Button Start doesn’t unlock the doors.

The Ranger Lariat’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Frontier’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Consumer Reports rated the Ranger’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Frontier’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

The Ranger has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Frontier has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the PRO-4X.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Ranger detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Frontier doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Ranger XLT/Lariat offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Frontier doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Ranger offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Frontier doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Ranger is less expensive to operate than the Frontier because typical repairs cost much less on the Ranger than the Frontier, including $1 less for front brake pads, $118 less for a fuel pump, $37 less for front struts and $317 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/06/04

Consumer Reports® recommends the Ford Ranger, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Frontier isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Ranger first among midsize pickups in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Frontier isn’t in the top three.

The Ford Ranger outsold the Nissan Frontier by 24% during 2019.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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