On the Horizon Appears … 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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