Time Capsule: Nissan's Frontier Returns for Another Go-round, Base Price Unchanged

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
time capsule nissans frontier returns for another go round base price unchanged

John Kerry was in the news a lot when the current-generation Nissan Frontier debuted in the United States. The TV series 24 was a hot item, CNN’s rating were through the roof, social media wasn’t really a thing, and your author sported long, flowing locks.

Suffice it to say that the Frontier is old, and 2004 was better than today. Still, Nissan apparently feels no pressing need to revamp its little pickup, preferring to see it serve as the entry point of the entire midsize pickup segment. The benefit for buyers is that the mainly unchanged 2019 Frontier keeps its bargain basement floor price.

For the coming model year, the base Frontier S — a nostalgic ride sporting an extended cab (King Cab), rear-wheel drive, 2.5-liter inline-four, and five-speed manual transmission — stickers for $18,990, the same MSRP as last year. Add to that a destination fee of $995, and you’re off to the retro races. Good luck finding one on a dealer lot…

It’s not a complete carryover, keep in mind. Buyers of S- and SV-trim Frontiers gain a 7-inch color(!) infotainment touchscreen for 2019, though the four-banger soldiers on with its preexisting 152 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. Nissan dumped a bucket of standard content on the truck for 2018, adding air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, and cruise control, in a bid to keep the ancient model current.

Moving up from base, prices escalate rapidly. Swapping the stick shift for a five-speed automatic inflates the sticker to $23,060 before destination, while moving up the trim ladder to a base SV (with manual tranny) adds another $800. An SV King Cab 4×2 with automatic retails for $24,910 before destination, while the cheapest V6-powered Frontier, a King Cab 4×2 with stick, carries a pre-destination price of $25,620.

That V6, a 4.0-liter unit, still makes 261 hp and 281 lb-ft.

Buyers looking for added visual brawn can opt for a Desert Runner King Cab or its pricier Pro-4X sibling. These models, both available only with the automatic, go for $26,300 and $33,430, respectively. That’s pre-destination pricing.

The Frontier’s Crew Cab lineup, with its two available bed lengths and standard V6, offers buyers a manual transmission with an additional forward gear. A base, rear-drive S is the cheapest four-door, at $24,950 before destination, while SV, SL, Desert Runner, and Pro-4X trims inflate the sticker to a ceiling of $36,850 before destination. For that scratch, you’re in F-150 territory.

While changes remain minimal, Nissan boasts of the expanded availability of Cayenne Red Metallic paint, as well as the return of last year’s Midnight Edition package. Menace sells, I suppose.

Despite its age, the Frontier continues selling quite well. This basically explains why Nissan keeps the current generation alive, even as a new Navara tempts Nissan truck buyers overseas. Frontier sales in the U.S. sank 40.1 percent in July, likely helped by an inventory drawdown, but year-to-date sales ended July up 1.8 percent.

[Images: Nissan]

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2 of 42 comments
  • Brn Brn on Aug 31, 2018

    If you want the V6 and 4x4, the list price is in Ford Ranger territory. Add a slushbox, and the Ranger is less expensive. We've yet to see a real review of the Ranger, but I'd be stunned if it wasn't a vastly superior vehicle. The only thing that might make the Frontier a reasonable deal is heavy discounts.

  • Jdowmiller Jdowmiller on Sep 09, 2018

    I've been looking at trucks again lately. I've owned a '94 Ranger single cab and an '04 extended cab 4x4. The beds on both of those trucks, particularly the single cab, were quite useful. When did the beds of pickups become totally pointless? The one I looked at today had a 5' bed. I had to do a double take at the Monroney to make sure I was reading correctly. I moved down the aisle to the full size trucks and the bed was 5'6". I'm genuinely asking: what is the point of this? What do you do when you need to haul drywall and plywood? I don't think my bike would even fit. Is a minivan a better proposition?

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