By on July 9, 2020

Nissan Frontier production line Canton Mississippi - Image: Nissan

As Nissan flings an old truck with a shiny new powertrain at midsize truck buyers, a top-down replacement waits in the wings.

To say a successor for the Frontier has been a long time coming would be the ultimate understatement. The current body has soldiered on since late 2004, when the second-generation truck appeared as a 2005 model. You author has gone through six cars since that long-ago year.

But the wait’s nearly over. And there’s even something to look at.

Motor Authority posted spy photos of the 2021 Frontier on Thursday, revealing a not-so-little truck that mimics the big boys. Whereas the current Frontier, despite its new 3.8-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic, feels like a lightweight throwback, the upcoming replacement looks like it’s hiding a GMC badge somewhere.

It’s a pickup with all the tall, blunt front-end action you’d expect from a full-sizer, and something tells me this will turn on many a buyer. Somehow managing to display an innate “Nissan-ness” through all of its camo, the spied truck sports a crew cab bodystyle and a short bed — by far the most popular configuration in the class. It remains to be seen whether Nissan, eager to reduce build configurations amid a cost-cutting spree, will return with a shorter King Cab cabin, or if the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder powerplant that disappeared for 2020 will stage a return.


Despite its cash-strapped nature, Nissan will be under pressure to live up to its value-oriented heritage and undercut the likes of Ford, General Motors, and Toyota at every turn.

Viewed from the side, the upcoming Frontier gives off echoes of both the Toyota Tacoma and the final-generation Dodge Dakota, though what a writer “sees” in a vehicle’s styling is entirely subjective and pointless. Still, those aren’t bad muses for a midsize truck.

There’s no official word from Nissan as to the new Frontier’s debut or on-sale date, but late this year seems an obvious guess. It isn’t known just how much the pandemic lockdown impacted the model’s timeline.

[Images: Nissan]

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6 Comments on “Little Big Truck: 2021 Nissan Frontier Spied...”

  • avatar

    Looks promising for sure.

  • avatar

    Things are getting serious – those are Michelins.

    • 0 avatar

      The OE Michelins on my 2017 Equinox (tires mfg in Poland) were superb. Quiet, long wearing, and excellent in wet/snow. Significantly better than the Contis on my new Blazer.

  • avatar

    Looks as close to a Tacoma as they could get it. How unfortunate.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t look as aerodynamic as the Tacoma or the Ranger, and if that’s their full four-door cab, it looks like the back doors may be as short, and the backseat as cramped, as the current Frontier.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    What made the Frontier desirable for me no longer exists. The cheap Frontier with a 4 cylinder and manual transmission has now been replaced with a more expensive V-6 with a Jatco automatic. The Jatco automatic transmission (yes I realize the CVT is the worst but all Jatco automatics have had issues) alone is enough to prevent me from buying any Nissan. I will not buy a Nissan or FCA product and I am getting to the point of never buying another GM or Ford product. I am willing to pay a little more to get a reliable vehicle.

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