Trucks & SUVs

The Nissan Frontier is Finally Getting an Update

The Nissan Frontier may still outsell some of its rivals, but its design is old enough to remember HD DVDs. In fact, its platform-mate, the Xterra SUV, has long since been discontinued. Reviews haven’t exactly been negative, but it’s clear the Frontier pickup is desperately outdated in many ways. Luckily, Nissan realizes this. In an exclusive interview with Motor Trend at the Tokyo Motor Show, VP of Global and Japan product planning Ivan Espinosa confirmed the Nissan Frontier is getting an update.

Expected Powertrain Updates

2020 Nissan Frontier | Nissan 001
2020 Nissan Frontier | Nissan

Espinosa did not provide details on how the transmission or engine would be updated, but MT has some ideas.

At the moment, the Frontier is available with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 4.0-liter V6. A new V6 has long been promised, which makes its presence in the updated Frontier likely. One of the few pickups available with a manual, the new Frontier will no doubt still keep a stick as an option. However, the five-speed automatic may be replaced with a seven-speed unit.

At the moment, Nissan isn’t planning an electric or hybrid Frontier. However, Espinosa wouldn’t rule out the Frontier possibly getting electric motors at some point. Having a mid-size electric pickup on the market would give Nissan a unique selling point. Only a few automakers are considering electric pickups, and none are mid-size.

Updated Frontier Design

2019 Nissan Frontier
2019 Nissan Frontier | Nissan

Neither Espinosa nor Global Design VP Alfonso Albaisa confirmed if the updated Frontier’s design had been finalized or not. MT believe that it is.

Albaisa did say the new design would embody the “spirituality of adventure”, and be more extroverted than other vehicles in Nissan’s lineup. Pickup trucks are popular in the off-road and overlanding crowds, so a more rugged design makes sense. Albaisa also called the new design revolutionary, rather than evolutionary.

MT did not provide any news on what type of platform the updated Frontier would ride on. Currently, the Frontier is body-on-frame, as are most of its rivals. However, Honda’s unibody Ridgeline is well-reviewed, and there is the possibility of Ford’s unibody baby Bronco getting a pickup truck version.

Updated Frontier Timeline

2019 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab
2019 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab | Nissan

Espinosa confirmed the updated Frontier would be shown next year. No specific date was given, nor if the reveal would be its own event or happen at an auto show.

There are quite a few other trucks and SUVs debuting next year, such as the Rivian R1T and Ford Bronco. The Nissan Frontier badly needed this update to stay competitive. Hopefully, Nissan shares some more details soon.