By on April 7, 2020


That headline comes with an asterisk, as the fuel economy gains expected from the 2020 Nissan Frontier are only applicable if you planned on buying a V6 model. The four-cylinder Frontier is dead for ’20, as is the manual transmission.

While the Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t yet bestowed MPG figures on the “new” truck (same body, new powertrain), Nissan has come clean with estimates.

Speaking to Motor1, the automaker claims the rear-drive 2020 Frontier, which carries a standard direct-injection 3.8-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic (previous V6 Frontiers boasted 4.0 liters of displacement and either a five-speed auto or six-speed stick), should garner a rating of 19 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined in 4×2 guise.

Four-wheel drive models should net a rating of 17/23/19.

The estimates top the old 4×2 4.0L by 2 mpg, regardless of transmission, while the 4×4 sees a gain of either 1 or 2 mpg. It’s worth noting, however, that the base ’19 Frontier with four-banger and manual tranny returned 21 mpg in combined driving. The ’20 does top it on the highway, though.

With the six-speed manual gone for the current model year, Nissan fans can forget about a resurrection of the bargain-basement row-your-own model. According to Melaina Vasko, Nissan’s vehicle performance development manager for trucks and full-size SUVs, the nine-speed will remain the only transmission option.

Apparently, the model’s stick shift take rate was only 5 percent.

While the Frontier’s fuel economy specs change for 2020, they’re likely to change again when the redesigned 2021 model emerges. Boasting a new body, less weight, and extra aero, the ’21 should see further improvements in the MPG situation.

[Image: Nissan]

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16 Comments on “Expect MPG Boost When Re-engined Nissan Frontier Lands...”

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Are we still pretending that Nissan will survive this crisis?

  • avatar

    So, what does that leave for manual transmission vehicles in Nissan’s US lineup? Is it just the price leader model of the Versa and the Z?

  • avatar

    The truck isn’t new. The engine will be. There is no story here.

  • avatar

    New engine in a 16 year old truck is not a story. New engine in 16 year old design that is still in production, now that is a story.

  • avatar

    The added complexity of 4 extra gears for so minor an economy improvement? Plus likely added cost out the door. Doesn’t seem like a good payoff.

    I wonder what the new engine with old transmission would have provided. Or the old engine with new transmission?

  • avatar

    I think Nissan went the wrong direction with this, they should have introduced a large displacement 4 cylinder and attacked the bottom end of the market. Trying to upmarket a 16 year old truck isn’t realistic.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    But they just got the 5 speed in the current truck sorted a year or two ago. You’ll need to wait a decade or so on this one.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Does it being old make it that much cheaper to make and sell that they can magically undercut the other more modern offerings like everyone seems to think? I mean they can sell it cheaper maybe…but cheap enough to make it worthwhile? This design has been penny pinched to death. I don’t think there is much left to cut.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree about having a 4 cylinder, but I would have reservations about buying any Nissan product with any automatic Jatco transmissions which includes not just CVTs. Jatco has a bad reputation for automatics.

  • avatar

    20 mpg from a V6? It’s the early 2000s all over again. Gas mileage numbers are dropping. Just watch, in the next year or so gas prices will spike, oil companies will again post record profits, and everyone will shift to more fuel efficient cars for about 30 seconds, then the price of gas will drop again to prevent too many people trading in their gas guzzlers.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This has been true for years and oil prices will rise again and then fall. It is better to buy a vehicle that you need and will use and plan on keeping it long term. The additional increase in fuel prices will be little compared to the loses and depreciation that you take when trading a vehicle.

  • avatar

    The old drivetrain was the main attraction.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree the old drivetrain was the best part of the Frontier along with a very competitive price. Nissan might not sell as many Frontiers once they move to completely new model especially if they have to raise the price. The Frontier sells on its price it is a good value. Raise the price and only offer a Jatco automatic makes the Frontier less desirable.

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