On the Horizon Appears … a New Frontier

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
on the horizon appears 8230 a new frontier

“Change is the only constant in life,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who probably didn’t envision the remarkable lifespan of the second-generation Nissan Frontier.

Debuting in 2004 as a 2005 model, the second-gen Frontier soldiers on as a rugged and more affordable option in the growing midsize field. But it’s this growing field that belatedly spurred Nissan into action. A new Frontier is on the way, sources claim, bearing improvements demanded of it by a populace that now has access to things like the Ford Ranger.

According to sources who spoke to Automotive News, Nissan’s next-gen Frontier could arrive by September 2020, marketed as a 2021 model. Having seen Nissan’s plans for the pickup, the same sources describe it as “futuristic.”

“It’s modern, but it still looks like a truck,” one said. Thank goodness for that!

Overseas, the Frontier carries the Navara name, only the Navara underwent a revamp in 2014 that the North American model avoided. That model forms the basis of Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class. Interestingly, the upcoming Frontier will not swap to the platform underpinning the Navara. Instead, sources claim the new North American model will ride on with an updated version of its existing F-Alpha platform.

Money, as well as the third-gen Navara’s slightly smaller size, is clearly behind Nissan’s decision to refresh and re-use the current setup.

Sources claim the Frontier’s five-speed automatic will disappear in favour of a seven-speed unit, while the long-running 4.0-liter V6 gives way to a new V6 engine making around 300 horsepower. The current top-flight engine generates 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque — figures outclassed by the new Ford Ranger’s four-cylinder.

No word on the fate of the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Amid rapidly rising ATPs, Nissan will surely hope to replicate the current truck’s value proposition, and that means sourcing power from the parts bin for entry-level models. It’s a safe bet that the sub-$20k MSRP of the base Frontier will become a thing of the past once the new truck arrives.

The Frontier’s advanced age didn’t stop Americans from snapping up 79,646 of them last year — a 7.1 percent increase from the year before. J.D. Power’s Tyson Jominy points to incentive spending as a potential driver, however, and the Frontier certainly isn’t alone in that camp. The 16-percent increase in midsize pickup sales last year corresponded with a 55-percent increase in incentive spending, he told AN.

Perhaps someone turned off the money taps over at Nissan, as Frontier sales fell 11.4 percent over the first three months of 2019.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC, Nissan]

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  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Apr 08, 2019

    If Nissan goes big with their little truck, Mitsubishi could take over the truly small truck segment fairly easily, and bring back the truly inexpensive SUV segment while they're at it with a platform mate Montero

    • Scott25 Scott25 on Apr 09, 2019

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the old Frontier is kept in production and rebadged as a Mitsubishi.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 08, 2019

    I believe eventually pickups will reach peak sales and will start to decline in volume. There is only so much people will pay for a truck and then it becomes not such a great deal. As long as the economy is booming and low interest rates and extended term loans keep monthly payments below $500 vehicles sell but once the money gets tight and the economy softens then people will look for less expensive vehicles. I do believe there is room for a true compact pickup with fewer frills. Not everyone needs a full size truck capable of hauling a camper or hauling heavy loads. A decent sized bed with less hauling capacity would serve most suburban homeowners who want a 2nd or 3rd vehicle for those weekend trips to Home Depot. This is where a truck about the size of the old Hardbodies, S-10s, and Rangers would work with nothing more than a single or extended cab. Even if offered in extended cab with a rear seat delete and plastic floor would be enough.

    • See 2 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Apr 09, 2019

      @Art Vandelay: • I am not Orkin; • I am not skinflint (paid cash for my most recent purchase); • I am old... at least compared to many here. Even your old 88 Ranger you mentioned would have been my sixth car, brand new--maybe seventh. Admittedly, I haven't hit my 65th birthday... yet. No, they don't have to be four full doors. In fact, even Orkin and their like would benefit from an extended cab vs crew cab or regular cab to carry their paperwork and other 'clean' gear like disposable shoe covers. I do agree that the Avalanche was a good idea and one they should have held onto, though the compromise with either full bed length or extra seating, not both. Still, it made for a shorter overall length more akin to the Suburban for those who almost never needed both cargo and passenger capacity. My '02 Saturn Vue met that need beautifully except for the fact I couldn't carry anything that was taller than its tailgate clearance. A full 6'plus flat floor plus an added two feet on the passenger side for longer loads. That Vue made a number of Ikea runs in its lifetime.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.