Ace of Base: 2020 Nissan Frontier King Cab 4×2 S
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.
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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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.