Nissan is finally updating its ancient midsize pickup, the Frontier.
The Nissan Frontier is the oldest pickup truck currently being sold as new in North America. While internationally the Frontier (known as the Navara abroad) has moved on to its third generation, the North American Frontier is still on its second gen and has been since 2004.
Under the hood is an underpowered 2.5-L inline 4-cylinder with 152 horses or a strangely large 4.0-L V6 with 261 horses.
Now, you may be wondering how a midsize pickup truck can get away with being 15 years old in this current craze of pickup trucks. The reason for that is it actually sells pretty well--CarSalesBase.com reports that sales of the Frontier go up and down but typically stay within 60,000 to 80,000 units annually. This year’s sales are currently down roughly 11%, but 2018’s sales beat 2017s, so really, the Frontier is a steady seller.
Part of what helps to keep the Frontier moving is its low average price tag. According to Automotive News, the Frontier’s average price is under $30,000, compared to the rest of the midsize market which sells at $32,800.
But the midsize pickup market had remained pretty stagnant for years. Now the Ford Ranger has returned and Jeep is set to unleash their reborn 2020 Gladiator on a market that’s hungry for medium-sized pickup trucks, and Nissan is concerned that the Frontier won’t be able to compete no matter how cheap it is.
So it’s time for an upgrade. Sources speaking to Automotive News report that the new Frontier will arrive in September of 2020 with a “futuristic” look at a completely new body and powertrain. That’s a new V6 with 300-ish horsepower and a new 7-speed automatic transmission to replace the old 5-speed.
No word if the Frontier will keep its 6-speed manual, though.
Strangely, the new Frontier will not be based on the global third-gen that released in 2014. Instead, it will use the sale F-Alpha platform that the current Frontier uses but heavily updated. This is to retain the Frontier’s overall size, which is somewhat larger than the international Navara.
Whatever Nissan does, it’ll have to be impressive to keep up with the newcomers, but we expect it to also come in cheaper than the new entrants in keeping with the Frontier’s reputation for being cheap but reliable.