By on May 21, 2020


This still-an-actual-midsizer from Nissan has been profiled more than once during the Ace of Base series, managing to pull off wins thanks to a fix-it-with-a-hammer powertrain and rock-bottom price tag.

Things are different for 2020. Despite wearing last year’s clothes (to be truthful, those clothes are over a decade old), the Frontier has a new power team under its hood. Accompanying this is, of course, a higher price tag. Can this combination of old school looks and new school guts still peg the Ace of Base meter?

And before you carp — yes, that’s an image of a 2019 Frontier. No base model pics of the 2020 are currently available and, let’s be honest, we could run an image of a 2005 model and it would still be representative. Here’s an ’05 for comparison.

A single engine choice greets Frontier shoppers this year. Gone are the four-banger and old V6, replaced with an 24-valve aluminum 3.8-liter V6 making a wholly appropriate 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. That’s nearly fifty more ponies compared to the old V6. Gearbox duties are handled by way of a nine-speed automatic, meaning this truck joins the ranks of Canyon and Ranger as an auto-only pickup. It should be clear that the least expensive base truck is two-wheel drive and King Cab (not four-door Crew Cab) body style.

Base model trucks continue to be denoted by the letter S, following the trim walk on just about every model in Nissan’s lineup. The 2020 Frontier offers a number of upgrades from last year’s S, including standard push button start that resides on the center console, just like a Saab. Also on board as standard kit are the likes of a leather shift knob, a tilt steering wheel, power door locks, and power windows with driver side auto-down. Scoff if you will at that last entry, but it makes all the difference in the world when trying to juggle change, loyalty cards, and turning down the radio while rolling up to the drive-thru window.

The cheapest Frontier will be easy to spot on dealer lots thanks to its 16-inch steel wheels and black front bumper. Strangely, the rear bumper is color-keyed on the S but the grille is chrome, presenting a trifecta of finishes on a single model. Anyone else think Nissan is trying to use up their parts cache that won’t fit next year’s body style? Fog lamps are absent on this base model and door handles are black no matter how much one spends on a 2020 Frontier.

Nissan announced yesterday that this base model King Cab 4×2 S will carry a sticker price of $26,790. This is $7,500 more expensive than the cheapest 2019 Frontier, a King Cab 4×2 S equipped with the little four-banger and five-speed manual gearbox. A more appropriate parallel from last year would be a base V6-equipped King Cab, which stickered in the mid-20’s.


This makes it tougher to see the value, especially when a base model Ranger SuperCab 4×2 XL is priced at $24,410. Still, the Nissan’s horsepower number — if not the torque — outstrips the Blue Oval, meaning we’ll have to drive them back to back before handing out any Ace of Base hardware. Until then, if it’s a dirt cheap new pickup you’re after, snapping up a 2019 Frontier for less than twenty grand shouldn’t be too difficult.

[Images: Nissan]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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25 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Nissan Frontier King Cab 4×2 S...”

  • avatar

    Decade old?? Try again- 2005 is the last body update. These are utterly ancient.

  • avatar

    For the past 5-8 years, the only thing that sold Frontiers is that they were *cheap*. Fleet-spec Frontiers were the cheapest pickup available, and the loaded up Crew Cabs were thousands of dollars less than the equivalent Toyota.

    If they give up on being cheap, what have they got left? Nothing.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Frontier has lost its advantage of low price. For not much more you can buy a Colorado, Ranger, or Tacoma even though those base models do not have a standard V6. I would rather have a the I4 especially since I4s are less expensive to maintain, simpler, and in the long run seem to last longer. If the dealer knocked off 5k to 6k then I would consider a 2020 Frontier but otherwise it’s not such a great deal for an almost 20 year old truck.

  • avatar

    “a sticker price of $26,790. This is $7,500 more expensive than the cheapest 2019 Frontier”

    They’ll deal, a lot, or they won’t sell many

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Significant happenings in the world the last time this vehicle saw a redesign:

    George W. Bush begins his second term as President
    The New England Patriots win their third Super bowl (and complete back to back wins)
    The Space Shuttle Discovery completes the first US Space flight since the Columbia Disaster
    Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans
    A new Internet Site known as YouTube goes live
    Motorola releases the original RAZR phone
    Lance Armstrong wins his 7th Tour De France
    The US anounced the first troop drawdown of the Iraq War following Iraqi elections.
    The number 1 Single for the year is “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey.

    And Nissan introduces the D40 Frontier that remains on sale today, in 2020.

  • avatar

    I would be interested in a cheap 4-cyl stick shift 2WD truck like I had back in the day. It was perfect for running errands, fixing the house up, moving furniture, and easy to park in the city. I think of trucks as work vehicles even though most of the time they are really people haulers with occasional use of the hitch or bed.

  • avatar

    Avis has lots of 2019s V6 crew cabs on their car sales website. Most have between 9k-20k miles. All between $16-19,000, so why bother with new?

    • 0 avatar

      I just looked, they have some 2019 PRO-4X’s for $22k, which is a steal for a very off-road capable truck verses paying the huge Toyota tax for a Tacoma with a locker.

  • avatar

    Pure Fleet. Big discounts for bulk purchases. Nobody else will pay that price when much newer design small trucks available for similar monthly payment.

  • avatar

    I’d have gladly bought a used Frontier, but for that whole leaky rad takes out the transmission thing which Nissan denied for ten years.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I don’t disagree, but that has been fixed for longer than any of the other rigs have been on the market. 2012 was the year they were sorted. I did a ton of homework when I purchased my 2013.

      It is worth noting however that my 2015 F150 that replaced the Frintier gets noticibly better fuel economy than the Frontier. That is the level of tech these trucks have. They are good at the cheap prices they had prior to the new motor though. These prices though…Fantasyland. the other midsizers have newer designs and motors. The Frontier is a new motor in a Bush Admin era truck (and not at the tail end either…he had 4 good years left

      Honestly at the MSRP they have listed I could drop an LS in a used one and have a better, cheaper truck.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    The fact that it’s an old truck is what makes it appealing to me and many others. Sure, the price up to now was part of it. But the Frontier also had everything we wanted and needed – and nothing we didn’t. While I’m sure this new V6 is much better than the one it replaces, I prefer a four. And the 8-speed automatic is a non-starter. I want a manual. Now there isn’t a single vehicle that Nissan makes that I would buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      No. This thing is 15 freaking years old and they have spent the last decade cost cutting it to death. Crawl on your hands and knees in the bed. Now note the dents. There is charmingly simple design, and there is whither on the vine we are too lazy to update it and we have squeezed every penny from it. This is the later.

      A couple of days ago people were bemoaning the fact VW would wait a year to give the US the new GTI. Nissan gave the rest of the world a new Frontier (Navarra) nearly a decade ago.

      You could write it off because it was cheap. Well that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Every other option is better at that price point than this penny pinched 2005 model.

    • 0 avatar

      “But the Frontier also had everything we wanted and needed – and nothing we didn’t.”

      Nah, it still has a lot of sensors and unnecessary electronics that go bad after a decade. The Nissan Specialist mechanic couldn’t figure out why mine would simply randomly choose not turn over. The immobilizer? A relay? Who knows? I’m just glad it cranked when I took it to trade it in. I had to replace 2 power door lock motors before that, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Do you need power door locks on a cheap working pickup?

        What if they offered only with manual everything, including transmission, with a diesel engine, and only in brown. And with an out the door price of $22k? At that point would anyone care what year it was designed?

  • avatar

    “an 24-valve aluminum 3.8-liter V6 making a wholly appropriate 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque.”

    Put this engine in the base $35K Q50 and let’s party like it’s 2008.

  • avatar

    I’m kinda sorta in the market for something with a warranty (when I have to call the tow truck to or from work, I’m done). I currently use a 97 Volvo 850 GLT sedan for more towing/hauling than the vast majority of 250/2500 trucks on the road. It’s tired.

    My value pick was a V6 stick 4WD Frontier that could do short-medium length Lemons car tows and get up my dirt road in the winter.

    And the stick is gone. If I can’t row my own, may as well get an F150 for the money involved.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    For the price of the 2020 Frontier you might as well buy an F-150.

  • avatar

    It was my understanding that the 1954 and 1955 Eldorados were positioned as being equivalent to the Coupe deVille, before the Eldorado Seville came out. I don’t recall seeing any of the rear-wheel drive Eldorados when I was a child in the 1960s and 1970s, but there lots of DeVilles, Series 62s, 6200s and Calais. (I don’t recall seeing any Fleetwood 60 Specials either.) When the front-wheel drive Eldorado came out I saw quite a few of them, though.

  • avatar

    Nissan tends to cater to the poor credit crowd, so upping the price $7500 for a now-standard V6 and automatic on a midsize pickup with engineering dating back 15 years sounds about right. They’ll likely play the old GM game of high, unrealistic pricing, then throwing out some good lease rates to make it ‘look’ like a good deal.

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