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

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

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.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Johnster Johnster on May 23, 2020

    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.

  • Rudiger Rudiger on May 24, 2020

    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.

  • Analoggrotto The ORDER BOOKS in Australia have netted 300% above projection. Australia is so awesome and they are embracing the Telluride DIesel to overtake the Prado. Pentagon data, and eATPs rule the discussion, bar none. Toyota fans can go home with their sorry little turbo 4 cylinder.
  • Analoggrotto Such a loving artful tribute to TTAC's greatest godfather is much welcomed. There's a new and better PORSCHE and they are from SOUTH KOREA baby! After years of Japanese oppression, SOUTH KOREA is the TIGER of the Far EAST. We just need a modern day James Dean and that would be Rhys Millen!
  • Groza George Our roads and bridges are crumbling and increasing vehicle weight will only make bridges crumble faster. We need more infrastructure work.
  • Wolfwagen Pennsylvania - Two long straights, 1 medium straight, 1 super short straight and a bunch of curves all on one end
  • Haze3 EV median weight is in the range of 4500-5500lbs, similar to the low end of full size pickup trucks and SUV's or typical mid-size PU's and SUV's. Obviously, EV Hummers and PU's are heavier but, on average, EV=PU or mid/full SUV is about right. EV's currently account for ~1% of the cars on the road. PU's account for 17% and SUV's count for over 40%. If we take out light SUV's, then call it 30% SUV or so. So, large-ish PU's and SUV's, together, account for ~50% of the US fleet vs 1% for EV's. As such, the fleet is ALREADY heavy. The problem is that EV's will be making the currently lighter 50% heavier, not that PU/SUV haven't already done most of the damage on avg mass.Sure, the issue is real but EV responsibility is not. If you want to get after heavies, that means getting after PU/SUV's (the current problem by 40-50x) first and foremost.