Should You Take the 2012 Nissan Frontier Off-Road Off Road?

The 2012 Nissan Frontier Off Road is capable of hitting the trails, but some trims are more up for the job than others.
Written by Meaghan Branham
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
2012 Nissan Frontier Off Road
is Nissan’s answer to the demand for an off-road expert. However, you’ll want to upgrade to the PRO-4X trim if you’re looking to do any serious adventuring. 
When you’re in the middle of the trails, you need a reliable, rough-and-ready ride to keep you going. But with so many options in the off-road market, how do you know which you can trust, and which might be better left to rust?
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, has the guide to the off-road capabilities of the 2012 Nissan Frontier — from torque to traction to ground clearance and everything in between.

Can the 2012 Nissan Frontier Off Road go off road?

Yes, the 2012 Nissan Frontier can fend for itself in off-road situations, though some of its trims are better suited for it than others. Among the S, SV, and PRO-4X trims available, the PRO-4X is your best bet for wild terrain. A 2012 Frontier PRO-4X costs between $15,000 and $18,000

Ground clearance

Ground clearance, the amount of space between the base of a tire and the lowest point of the car itself, is one of the most important things to keep in mind when looking for a good off-road vehicle. The base model of the 2012 Nissan Frontier has a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, while the other trims have a ground clearance of anywhere between 9.8 and 10.1 inches
The ideal amount of ground clearance for off-roading is between 8.8 and 10.8 inches, which gives you plenty of space to go over any rocks or bumps that you may run into on rough terrain.
The base model of the Nissan Frontier doesn’t meet that 8.8-inch minimum, so you may want to opt for the other trims if you want a worry-free ride.


When it comes to off-roading, you’ll also want to look for a vehicle with low-end torque. That means a high amount of torque at a lower rpm, which will come in handy when you need power more than speed on the trails. 
The 2012 Nissan Frontier comes with two engine options: the base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 171 pounds-feet of torque at 4400 RPM and with rear-wheel drive; while the PRO-4X trim comes with a 4.0-liter V-6 with 281 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm.
The higher rpm means you won’t get as much power out of your Frontier at lower speeds you need to use on bumpy terrain, but the PRO-4X still offers a good bit of oomph. 
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The 2012 Nissan Frontier boasts a set of P235/75R15 tires, which, while pretty common among many light trucks, aren’t as tough as those available on some other models. recommends that a truck meant for tougher terrain be equipped with a set of Goodyear Wrangler RT/S or General Grabber AW tires
For most off-roading adventures, you’ll be better off with a set of all-terrain tires. Those are designed for both paved and unpaved roads and have a tread pattern meant to give you better traction. 


Most of the trims on the Nissan Frontier only come equipped with rear-wheel drive, but if you’re going to do any serious off-roading, you’ll need to opt for the available all-wheel drive. For the 2012 Frontier, that only comes standard on the PRO-4X


When choosing your off-road vehicle, you’ll want to consider its approach and departure angles: 
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The Nissan Frontier has a 32.6-degree approach angle and a 23.3-degree departure angle. Those numbers aren’t mindblowing — the
2020 Jeep Wrangler
has 41.4-degree and 35.9-degree approach and departure angles, respectively  — but they are enough to get you through some off-road paths. 

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

Using Jerry’s extremely professional DIRT rating as broken down in the table below, we’ve ranked the 2012 Nissan Frontier on just how off-road ready it is.
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The 2012 Nissan Frontier gets an R Rating: it's a lightweight but athletic truck built to get you over some tougher trails, but that still requires quite a bit of caution when it comes to most trims. We’d give the PRO-4X a more confident R rating, though, thanks to its all-wheel drive and higher ground clearance. 
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The best off-road alternatives to the 2012 Nissan Frontier TRD Off Road

If you feel like the Nissan Frontier isn’t the right fit for you, there are plenty of other options in the off-road game. Whether you’re looking for something fit for more rugged terrain, or with a bit more power behind it, there is something for you.
Here are the best alternatives to the 2012 Nissan Frontier:
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2007 Chrysler Aspen
Chrysler’s first full-size SUV offers a 4.7-liter 8-cylinder engine that gets 235 hp and has been proven to be able to crawl its way up dunes and through mud.
Best highly-rated alternative
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
For just a bit more than the Frontier, the Ford Explorer offers a 210-hp 4.0-liter V6 engine with comparable off-road power — and has a 4.6-star consumer rating according to Kelly Blue Book.
Best alternative with plenty of options
2008 Jeep Commander
At a similar price point, the Jeep Commander offers two four-wheel drive options and three engine options. Try the Overland 4WD, which includes a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with Quadra-Drive 4WD, four-wheel traction control, and skid plates.
MORE: Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Off-road vehicles can unlock a whole new world of fun, but they can also unlock sky-high insurance costs for their drives. The extra risk associated with these vehicles often leads insurance companies to raise their rates.  
Luckily, car insurance super app Jerry can help you find the best policy for you at the lowest rate, whether off- or -on road. Simply download the Jerry app or go to In less than 45 seconds, Jerry collects all of your information from your existing insurer. Then, choose from your competitive quotes from top insurance companies and let Jerry takes care of the rest: from securing your new policy to helping you cancel your old one. 
“I’m buying a new car, and all the quotes I got previously were insane.
saved me over $200. I am ecstatic!” —Raymond V.
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