Battle of the Trucks: Ford Ranger vs. Nissan Frontier

Ford Ranger vs. Nissan Frontier: which truck rules? It all depends on what you are looking for in a truck.
Written by Brad Marley
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
If you’re looking for an epic pickup truck smackdown, you might not be super impressed by comparing the 2020 Ford Ranger vs. the 2020 Nissan Frontier. These two trucks offer vastly different options, but the Ranger pulls ahead in most categories.
The Ford Ranger will be your best bet if you want a traditional pickup. It’s rough and tough when necessary, but it feels at home on the open road. The Nissan Frontier is equipped with an excellent engine, even though the rest of it falls short of expectation since the design has remained the same for years.
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Ford Ranger insurance costs
Nissan Frontier insurance costs
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2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: the basics

What’s the difference between the Ford Ranger and Nissan Frontier? We’re glad you asked. Four major differences separate these trucks from the beloved Blue Oval automaker: 
  • Size: You can find the Ford Ranger with an extended cab or crew cab, while the family-friendly Ranger SuperCrew will seat five. Every Frontier model is available with an extended King or four-door Crew cab option. 
  • Pricing: The 2022 Ranger starts at $25,305—just about $2,000 less than the Nissan Frontier’s $27,940 starting price. 
  • Efficiency: Both trucks have about the same miles per gallon, but the Ranger has a slight edge with 21/26 mpg for its rear-wheel drive model. The Nissan Frontier gets 18 and 24, respectively, putting it just below the Ranger. 
  • Towing power: The Ranger blows the Frontier out of the water with its available 7,500-pound towing capacity when outfitted with an optional tow package. The Frontier, on the other hand, can only handle up to 6,700 pounds. 
Those are just a few of the differences between these two models. To learn more, check out the sections below.

2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: power & performance

Horsepower and efficiency are critical metrics for a pickup, so let’s look at how they differentiate between the Ford Ranger and the Nissan Frontier. 
The Ranger comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 270 horsepower and 310-lb-ft of torque. All Ranger trucks come with a 10-speed automatic transmission in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. You only lose about one or two miles of mpg if you upgrade to all-wheel-drive, so it may be worth the upgrade, depending on how you use your truck.
The Frontier’s powertrain offers a 3.8-liter V6 that gives off 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. It pairs exclusively with a nine-speed automatic transmission in rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive.
2020 Ford Ranger
2020 Nissan Frontier
2.3-liter four-cylinder turbocharged
3.8-liter V6
270 hp
310 hp
310 lb-ft
281 lb-ft
Ten-speed automatic
Nine-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy (combined)
24 mpg
21 mpg
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2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: interior & storage

When it comes to size, the Ford Ranger and Nissan Frontier are reasonably close, although the Ranger does take a slight edge in several areas. For starters, the turning diameter of the Ranger clocks in at 21 feet, while the Frontier needs 23.9 feet. 
The Ford Ranger comes in several interior options, including SuperCab and SuperCrew. It can seat up to five with full-size doors and offers adults plenty of room. On the other hand, the Frontier has decent four-passenger space, but the back seats are a little crowded.
The one knock against the Ranger is its uninspired interior design. The Frontier isn’t much better, with an interior that hasn’t changed much over the past two decades. But if you’re looking for a rugged work truck or a durable trail rider, you’ll find the hard plastic on the inside to be sufficient.
2020 Ford Ranger
2020 Nissan Frontier
126.8 inches
125.9 inches
210.8 inches
205.5 inches
Bed length
61 inches
59.5 inches
Bed volume
33.3 cubic feet
43.4 to 51.8 cubic feet
Headroom (front/rear)
39.8 / 38.3 inches
39.9 / 38.6 inches
Legroom (front/rear)
43.1 / 34.5 inches
42.4 / 33.6 inches
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2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: technology & trims

The Ranger and the Frontier both sport bare-bones technology offerings, but that’s fine, considering who the target audience is. 
Standard tech for the Ranger includes a single USB port and a Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to ten devices. The Frontier isn’t any better, with a 7-inch touchscreen being the lone technological feature of this truck.
If you do decide to upgrade to the XLT or Lariat trims, you can unlock the following features:
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration
  • 8-inch touchscreen with swipe capability
  • 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen
Forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking come standard on the Ford Ranger, but the Nissan Frontier lacks driver-assistance technology. The one saving grace is a standard backup camera with optional rear parking sensors
MORE: Ford Ranger V6

2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: towing & off-roading

If you are in the market for an affordable truck that can tow almost anything, the Ford Ranger is your vehicle, for sure. While both pickups are built for work, the Ranger shows it off more with 7,500 pounds of towing capacity. And if you’re looking to go off-road, the
Ford Ranger ground clearance
is nearly nine inches, which is pretty sufficient for taking it off the beaten path.
The Nissan Frontier, on the other hand, will only tow up to 6,700 pounds. But it beats the Ranger on ground clearance—the Frontier reaches nearly 10 inches, making it more capable of powering across rough or muddy terrain.
That said, the Ford Ranger has two additional trim levels—XLT and Lariat—that can be equipped with four-wheel drive, which is really ideal if you’re planning on doing a lot of off-roading.

2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: safety

As we mentioned above, the Nissan Frontier lacks the driver assistance category, with no standard safety features except a backup camera with optional rear parking sensors.
The Ranger, however, comes with forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, so that’s something, at least. 
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Ford Ranger a Good rating in five crash tests, with the truck receiving the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap test.
The Nissan Frontier gets an overall rating of four stars from IIHS, but when it comes to frontal-impact scores, the Frontier gets two stars for the front passenger and three stars for the driver. Neither score is great, but it’s passable. 

2020 Ford Ranger vs. 2020 Nissan Frontier: reliability 

No matter what you drive, you want it to be reliable. So how were the Ford Ranger and Nissan Frontier rated?
The 2020 Ford Ranger has a reliability score of 84 out of 100 from J.D. Power, but several recalls have been issued for various models. In fact, there have been four at last count, which is quite a few for a car that is only two years old.
The 2020 Nissan Frontier has only undergone one recall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with an overall rating of four stars from J.D. Power. 

Which is better: Ranger or Frontier?

Now that we’ve listed everything about these trucks, let’s get to the important part: which one is better?
The Ranger is definitely the best when it comes to towing, miles per gallon, and affordability.It gets a slight nod for comfort, as well. It’s a good pickup that gives you what you need, but maybe not with flying colors in every category. 
The Frontier is better when it comes to reliability, but that’s just about it. It’s nothing to write home about, but since it’s been the same truck for nearly the past 20 years, that’s not much of a surprise. 

How to find cheap auto insurance for your Ford or Nissan

But what about
car insurance
for the 2020 Ford Ranger or 2020 Nissan Frontier
You will actually pay more to insure the Nissan Frontier, which might be surprising. But due to the lack of safety measures, it actually makes sense. That said, there will always be other factors determining your insurance costs, like your driving record and demographics.
The fastest way to find lower rates for either truck is to download the
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