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So I was walking down the street in Medellin when I spotted a pickup truck model I’ve never encountered before the “Alaskan.” I wondered which of the Detroit Three was using this clever name in Colombia. But as I got closer, I realized it was a Renault. That’s right, a Renault truck that looked surprisingly similar to a Nissan Frontier. Read on for the full story.

Renault is big in Colombia

The tailgate of a Renault midsize pickup truck on the streets of Medellin Colombia, with its "Alaskan" badge visible.
Renault Alaskan | Henry Cesari of Motorbiscuit

The French company, Renault, is a major automaker worldwide. It built heavy trucks until its sold its truck division (Renault Trucks) to Volvo in 2001. But it still built the Duster crossover and the compact Oroch pickup truck. This compact truck must have been popular enough in Colombia that by 2016, Renault sought to add a new full-frame pickup to its lineup. Luckily, the automaker had help.

Nissan and Renault are partners

Profile view of the Renault Alaskan midsize pickup truck, based on the Nissan Frontier, parked in front of a hotel in Colombia.
Renault Alaskan | Henry Cesari of Motorbiscuit

Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have a sort of reciprocal partnership. Instead of being a top-down partnership, each automaker owns shares in the other. Because they are invested in one another’s success, they share technology, co-op on production, and try not to compete. As a result, one in every nine vehicles sold worldwide is from one of these three brands.

Previous generations of the Nissan Frontier sold in the USA have actually been rebadged versions of the Nissan Navaro, a hugely popular midsize pickup truck worldwide. Nissan has a plant in Argentina where it builds its Navaro trucks for the LATAM market.

The grille of a silver Renault Alaskan midsize pickup truck wearing Colombian plates, trees and apartment buildings visible in the background.
Renault Alaskan | Henry Cesari of Motorbiscuit

So Nissan and Renault struck a deal: Renault would buy Nissan Navaros, rebadged as Renault trucks, and sell them in Colombia. Instead of a play on Navaro, Renault settled on what seems to be a play on the North American name: Frontier. It chose “Alaskan” and launched the truck for the new midsize 2016 model year.

It seems that the new truck was a success. Renault is not only still selling Alaskans in Colombia, but it has actually expanded to many of its other markets–presumably in places that do not compete with the Nissan Navaro.

The Renault Alaskan midsize pickup truck

The tailgate of a Renault Alaskan pickup truck parked in Colombia, a hotel visible in the background.
Renault Alaskan | Henry Cesari of Motorbiscuit

I snapped a bunch of pictures of the Renault Alaskan pickup truck I spotted parked on the street of Medellin. Then I headed back to my office to do a bit more research–under the guise of automotive journalism.

According to the Colombian Renault website, you can get the Alasakn in one of three trims. The Cargo MT 4×4 starts at $45,000 USD (209 million Colombian Pesos). Its base powertrain is a 2.5-liter, 163-horsepower diesel with a 6-speed manual. It offers a full 2,000 pounds of payload capacity.

The mid-level “Zen” trim bumps the engine output to 190 horsepower but retains the manual gearbox. It also adds modern tech such as a key fob and push button start and 18-inch aluminum wheels. But it costs at least $47,737 USD. The top trim Alaskan is the Intens (really). It will set you back at least $52,078 USD but comes with a 7-speed automatic transmission. It comes with a leather interior, dual-zone A/C, and the option of black paint (lower trim Alaskans only come in white or silver).

Renault Alaskan | Henry Cesari of Motorbiscuit

I spotted a silver truck with a “190” call out on the fender, so I’ll bet it was an Alaskan Zen. I especially love the “Alaskan” sticker that Renault slapped on the factory-mounted rollbar accessory.

Considering we have vehicles named after Denali National Park, Durango, Colorado, and the Sierra mountains, Alaskan is not an absurd pickup truck name. But it’s intriguing that a French company chose this name for a Colombian-market truck. Especially intriguing, considering Colombia has many cities and mountain ranges with beautiful names that would have served just as well.

Next, find out the worst Renault model name in history or see an ad for the Renault Alaska in the video below: