We like what we see with the new 2022 Nissan Frontier. But “new” is subjective. Underneath that new look, it’s 17 years old underneath. And we’re not just talking about the chassis. The entire platform is a vintage 2004 Frontier. Here is what we mean.
First, the 2022 Frontier frame is the same
First, the frame is the same. The suspension has been tuned up as have the cab mounts. The hydraulic steering system is also something different. But it’s the same old frame. Even the wheelbase has not changed. And many chassis components have carried over from the previous Frontier.
One welcome addition is a rear stabilizer bar. The previous Frontier never had one. And the front stabilizer bar has been enlarged. Handling and towing should all be improved with these changes. The rear end gear ratio has been increased which should add a more torquey feel, especially off of the line.
The previous Nissan Frontier scored generally lower in safety tests
Safety being a big selling point these days meant Nissan had some work to do. The previous Frontier scored generally lower in safety tests than the competition. This being an improved Frontier meant improving those numbers. Nissan says that both dynamic performance, but more importantly safety improvements will hopefully see much better results in NCAP and IHS safety scores.
The Nissan Frontier body is the same, too. The outer sheet metal has been changed for sure. But the inner body, cowl, doors, top, and doors are the same. One interesting note is that to give the impression of an entirely new truck Nissan raised the bed a few inches. It also raised the bottom of the side windows to line up with the bed top.
Doing that proportioned things better overall and gave the truck a chunkier, more contemporary look. It now takes on an all-new look without the expense of engineering an entirely new body. But the outer body panels are all-new.
It is cheaper to tool up new interiors than to change body panels
Inside it is cheaper to tool up something new than it is to change body panels. So we expected and can confirm that everything interior-wise is new. Soft components are the cheapest tooling to make.
Last year the Frontier got an all-new V6 engine. That 3.8-liter engine has carried over for the 2022 model. In some ways introducing it a year earlier gave Nissan a chance to get some real-world data before this 2022 launch.
When the 2004 Nissan Frontier launched it was a vast improvement over its predecessor. When it was refreshed in 2009 it was during the Great Recession, but sales slowly improved. By 2014 it was hitting 70,000 units sold yearly. This year also saw a new Navara launched in other parts of the world.
In 2016 sales hit a record of 87,000 Nissan Frontiers sold
Many thought the Navara would replace the aging Frontier in the US, but Nissan soldiered on with the same pickup truck. In 2016 sales hit a record of 87,000 Frontiers sold. Chalk that up to affordability and Nissan’s generally good quality. But a new Frontier was slated for 2020 when the pandemic hit. That pushed out the truck you see here to a 2021 launch.
Cash-strapped Nissan has now revealed two new models that are actually their predecessors underneath. Both the upcoming 400Z and now the Frontier is old under the skin. Nissan is doing what it can to bring out new models without the new tooling price tag. It’s the formula Nissan is stuck with for now because it stuck with old products for way too long. We hope this new Frontier is the start of a rebirth of sorts for Nissan.