Trucks & SUVs

Is the Nissan Frontier Redesign Too Little Too Late?

For those in the market for a truck, there are many out there to choose from. However, not all trucks are made equal. No case can be made for this more than the Nissan Frontier, a mid-size truck that lags behind the competition. It costs less than the Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, and Chevy Colorado, but it also offers less in the way of desirable features. Nissan is promising a much-needed redesign for 2021, but is it too late for this truck?

The Nissan Frontier lags behind

Other brands are continuing to outperform the Frontier, and with the mid-size pick-up gaining in popularity, this isn’t good news for Nissan. But Nissan should be used to being behind when it comes to their trucks.

Out of 33 brands, Nissan ranks 21st, according to Consumer Reports. On U.S. News, it makes it in the 13th out of 14 spots for Best Car Brands, while it’s considered the ‘Best of the Worst’ by Autowise. JD Power is perhaps the reviewer that gives the most love to Nissan, rating it quite favorably. 

Redesign rumors for the Frontier

Around March of last year, the rumors about a new Frontier on the horizon were pretty much confirmed. This is well overdue, especially considering that the current model is from 2005, with few updates unless you count a little tweaking in 2009. If the rumors are true, and there is a 2021 model, it’s not said to be available until February 2021, again putting Nissan behind the pack and still caught in its often problematic late-to-debut habit.

The newly designed Frontier is supposed to bring a modified version of the Titan’s chassis, shortened to be compatible with the Frontier’s smaller footprint. Possibly in the works is a 3.8-liter V6 engine, a sorely needed upgrade, along with a change from a 5-speed automatic to a 9-speed. If these changes happen, you’ll see improved towing and hauling capacity and better fuel economy, not to mention up to 300 hp. 

All told, this should make the Frontier a better competitor for the Ranger and the rest of the team. Especially if Nissan also gets rid of the King Cab and only focus on a Crew Cab like other makers. Hopefully, the interior design details and technology will also see a vast improvement, as both were lagging significantly with cheap materials and older tech.

The problem with today’s Frontier

The problems with the current Frontier are numerous. In the crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the 2017 model, it scored one grade above the poorest level. It was clearly at the bottom of the barrel when compared to the others.

It doesn’t get great reviews from Car and Driver, and there are many downsides to choosing the Frontier. Because it doesn’t have many updates and stems from 2005, consumers aren’t getting the top-of-the-line new features other trucks offer. Things like modern powertrains and contemporary features and styling just aren’t found on the Frontier.

Car and Driver also shared that the Frontier has the longest breaking time, the least powerful engine, and falls to the bottom of the list of fuel economy. The price tag might seem tempting, but are you willing to give up so many features that a truck should have? Just check out U.S. News, Consumer Reports, and The Car Connection, whose lists place the Frontier at the bottom of the pack as well.

Is it too late for the Nissan Frontier?

Judging by the sales numbers, it’s actually not too late for Nissan to improve upon the Frontier. In fact, sales volume rose 7.1% in 2018 and was the model’s second-best sales year.

With the mid-size truck still selling this well by Nissan standards, it might not matter that it falls behind the competition. And after the promised changes, whether they come on time or not, they may see an even bigger gain in numbers. Only time will tell.