Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 Nissan Frontier Won’t Exactly Be an All-New Truck

The 2020 Nissan Frontier has barely debuted, and tidbits on the 2021 model truck are already popping up. Which, considering Nissan’s lineup contains some rather dated designs, is a good thing. However, recent reports seem to indicate that, although Nissan Frontier will be significantly updated for 2021, it won’t be all-new.

2021 Nissan Frontier news

The news comes courtesy of Autoblog, which recently spoke with Nissan representatives during a roundtable discussion. The reps first confirmed that the 2020 Nissan Frontier, with a 3.8-liter V6 option, will still have a spring 2020 release. And despite the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2021 truck will also still be unveiled at the end of 2020.

Said truck will allegedly be lighter and more fuel-efficient than the 2020 model, Motor1 reports. The decreased weight won’t be the only thing boosting efficiency, though. The 2021 Nissan Frontier will reportedly feature a new, more aerodynamic body. It also appears, according to Roadshow’s report, like the 2021 Frontier will ride on a redesigned chassis.

However, while a significant portion of the truck will be brand-new, not all of it will.

Some older Nissan Frontier parts will carry over

2020 Nissan Frontier engine detail
2020 Nissan Frontier engine detail | Nissan

Seeing as the 3.8-liter V6 and 9-speed automatic transmission just debuted on the 2020 model, it’s not surprising to hear they will also carry over onto the 2021 Nissan Frontier. In fact, Motor Trend muses that Nissan may have deliberately done so to iron out drivetrain bugs early. The same transmission is already used in the full-size Nissan Titan, but it’s been modified for use in the Frontier.

2020 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
2020 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X | Nissan

But, Autoblog reports the 2021 truck will share other components with the 2020 model besides the drivetrain. MT reported in October 2019 that the next-gen truck would “use the same basic platform” but feature a modified chassis and electrics. It’s possible, then, that some of the 2020 Nissan Frontier’s chassis will end up in the 2021 truck’s chassis.

2020 Chevy Silverado Pickup | GM
2020 Chevy Silverado Pickup | GM

In the wake of Chevrolet redesigning the Silverado for independent rear suspension and possible electric powertrain, this may seem somewhat odd. It’s possible that Nissan couldn’t afford to go for a full, ground-up redesign. Or, Nissan could be taking a page from Toyota: if some Frontier parts are still good, no need to update them.

What we still don’t know

2020 Nissan Frontier
2020 Nissan Frontier | Nissan

Besides pricing—which is still unknown for the 2020 model—we also don’t know exactly what other new features the 2021 Nissan Frontier will offer. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are noticeable in their absence in the current truck, something which even the basic versions of its rivals offer.

In addition, we also don’t know if the manual transmission will return for either the 2020 or 2021 Nissan Frontier. MT predicted the truck might receive a 6-speed manual, an upgrade over the discontinued 5-speed. As of yet, though, there’s been no word from Nissan about it. If that’s the case, that would leave the Toyota Tundra and Jeep Gladiator as the only pickup trucks on the market with manual options.

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