The Nissan Frontier has been incredibly popular with consumers since its introduction back in 2005. It is an economical choice for anyone who needs the mid-size pickup capabilities, without all the plush. And the Pro-4X is a fan favorite for those looking for off-road chops.
But over the years, the critics point out Nissan’s slow to upgrade pace, in both design and performance. So when Nissan announced a new engine configuration and powertrain for 2020, everyone got a little excited. But despite the upgrade, some are wondering if the rest of the truck can keep up with the improved engine.
Significant changes under the hood
The 2020 Nissan Frontier got a much-needed upgrade under the hood. Last year’s 4.0-liter V6 has been swapped out for a smarter and better performing 3.8-liter V6 version. The new engine puts out 310-hp and improves overall fuel efficiency.
This fresh upgrade uses an industry-standard direct fuel injection, variable displacement oil pump, and the variable valve timing technology. The engine is married to the nine-speed automatic transmission, making the drive quieter and shifting seamless.
In a way, this new configuration helps the 2020 Nissan Frontier earn a best-in-class horsepower rating. But did any other part of the pickup get updated?
Other changes for the 2020 Nissan Frontier
The new engine and transmission might have gotten all the attention. But other changes for the 2020 Nissan Frontier meant saying goodbye to the manual transmission option as well as the four-cylinder option.
According to Edmunds, the center console did see a redesign and a push-button start is the new standard. At the dismay of many critics, however, the Frontier fell behind as it went another year with a style redesign or much of anything else. In a way, it still looks and feels like a truck from ten years ago, despite the thrilling new engine rework.
Critics aren’t impressed with much else
In a review from Car and Driver, the critics are quick to applaud the new engine and powertrain for the 2020 Nissan Frontier. But that’s about as far as the test drive accolades go.
When it comes down to it, the new powertrain paces about the same as the old version. And the rest of the midsized pickup is lackluster and pales in comparison to the exciting upgrades many of its competitors are introducing. The chassis is ancient, and the overall driving experience doesn’t feel any different today than it did 16 years ago.
Did Nissan take a hint and make improvements for the 2021 Frontier?
Considering Nissan has successfully sold over a million Frontier models within this generation, the truck-buying public still finds what they need with this pickup. The recent upgrade in engine design may just be a sign of bigger things to come.
The 2021 Frontier has been documented in testing, according to Motor Authority, and fans can expect a complete redesign later this year. Of course, the new truck will have the 2020 model’s juiced engine and powertrain.
But the prototype shows a Titan-familiar look. Some sources suggest this new Frontier will offer sliding back windows and LED lights, in addition to its beefier style. It’s evident that Nissan took a hint and is making significant upgrades to improve the Frontier’s appeal.
The 2020 Nissan Frontier has a new engine and powertrain that definitely deserves a drive if you’re in the market. But you too might come out feeling much like the critics do. The rest of the truck, in terms of features, aesthetics, and options, seems to be stuck in the past.
But the good news about this truck is that it’s getting a makeover this year for its 2021 model. It may be worth waiting for, especially if you agree that the rest of the 2020 model can’t keep up with its engine.