For the past few years, the Chevrolet Colorado and Nissan Frontier have been neck and neck. Customers who wanted a truck at an entry-level price basically had two options at the price point. But compared to the stability of the Chevy Colorado, Nissan is wading into uncharted territory with the 2020 and 2021 Frontier, and the price seems to be rising accordingly. At the $25,000+ range, the Frontier joins the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. All solid vehicles, to be sure, but the Colorado is finally occupying a unique space at the bottom end of the price range.
What Nissan changed to inspire the price hike
Nissan didn’t raise the MSRP on the Frontier just so they could lose the price war. Although it comes from a line with a long history of issues, the 2020 Nissan Frontier is a massive step up in performance from the 2019 model. Nissan went all-out to justify the price increase, cramming the 2020 Frontier with a new, more powerful engine.
Along with 310 hp under the hood, the 2020 Nissan Frontier also received improved standard features through the entire vehicle. New tech, more comfortable cabin room, and even the option for heated seats.
Whether it makes sense for Nissan to upgrade the Frontier for 2020 is unclear. Before this year, the Frontier had a niche. “Cheap truck that isn’t a Chevy Colorado” is hardly something to boast about, but Nissan proudly filled that niche in the market and sold truck after truck. Gambling on an upgraded, more expensive experience may turn out to be the Frontier’s downfall.
Opening a spot in the market for the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado
But Nissan’s potential loss is Chevy’s potential gain. The 2020 Chevrolet Colorado has notably not received a new engine. Chevrolet has not chosen to restructure half its features and jack the price up by $6,000 or more. The company with a reputation for reliability is doing exactly what you’d expect: rolling out a 2020 model that does what they promised to deliver.
The Colorado went from a truck without a true identity to the one option for budget-focused truck buyers. Sure, they’re planning on upgraded powertrain options for the 2021 models, but it’s unlikely Chevrolet will want to leave the space Nissan was so eager to hand over.
PickupTrucks.com published a list of the cheapest pickup trucks in America. Nissan predictably fell to No. 5 in the rankings with a Frontier MSRP of $27,885. But all alone at the top (or bottom?) of the list? The 2020 Chevrolet Colorado. It’s not the most exciting feature to boast about, but Chevrolet knows they’ve secured a spot in the market.
Nissan is clearly making a play at a larger price tag for a better truck, but they better hurry. Customers purchasing new trucks at $20,000-$22,000 is a major sector of the truck market, and Nissan has voluntarily exited in order to tangle with the Ford Ranger, the Ram 1500 Classic, and the Toyota Tacoma.
What the Chevy Colorado delivers for the money
For budget-conscious buyers who still want some customization potential, the Chevy Colorado has five different trim levels. Ranging from barely $20,000 all the way up to the low $30,000s, Chevrolet wants to offer more than the cheapest truck out there – but they have that too.
2020 sales numbers will determine if this was the correct route, or if Nissan found the solution by raising their lowest prices another $6,000. Unfortunately for Nissan, they appear to have priced a large section of the market out. Meanwhile, Chevrolet will gladly fill the spot the Frontier left with plenty of above-and-beyond trim options for truck buyers who want to spend a little more.