It’s been a good year for pickup truck buyers. Already, the redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 has landed in dealerships. All-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks are also in production and headed to consumers in September.
Meanwhile, the midsize pickup truck segment is about to get more populated with the Ford Ranger returning from the grave. That model is headed to dealerships in early 2019.
In the case of the Nissan Frontier, which hasn’t gotten a full redesign since 2005, truck buyers are going to have wait for an all-new model. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop the automaker from turning out a 2019 edition with some upgrades from its plant in Canton, Mississippi.
Here’s everything new in the Frontier pickup for the upcoming model year.
1. Tech and exterior options
If you’ve shopped for a base Frontier (S) or the next trim up (SV), you’ve come into contact with some budget interiors and a dated 5.0-inch touchscreen. You can’t ask for much more from a truck that came in below $20,000 with destination included, but Nissan is making an upgrade for 2019.
This time around, Frontier’s base models will get a 7.0-inch color audio display screen. Otherwise, buyers will find expanded availability of the Cayenne Red Metallic color. Even with that option, you’ll still have only four available colors in the low trims. (Black, white, and silver are the other three.)
2. Frontier Midnight Edition
While the Front Midnight Edition made its first appearance in 2018 models, Nissan is touting its return as a draw for the upcoming model year as well. This package adds some welcome styling flourishes to the truck. A black grille, front and back bumpers to match the body color, black rail steps, and special badging are a few of the highlights.
Black 18-inch alloy wheels special to Midnight Edition models also come with the package. The finishing touches are black outside mirrors and door handles. You can only make this upgrade, which includes the V6 engine and SV trim finishes, in a crew cab model. The price comes to about $3,500 more than a Frontier Crew Cab SV with 16-inch wheels.
3. Pricing for 2019
Frontier’s base price for the S King Cab edition with 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (152 horsepower) and manual transmission remains the lowest entry price for a pickup at $18,990 plus $995 destination. That didn’t go up at all for 2019. Choosing automatic transmission sends the price up considerably (to $23,060).
The upgrade from SV King Cab models with the manual ($23,860) to automatic transmission ($24,910) is much less prohibitive. Otherwise, V6 models only come with the five-speed automatic and start at $25,620.
The 2019 Frontier Desert Runner, which includes Bilstein shocks, off-road tires, and other design upgrades, starts at $26,300. PRO-4X models, which bring in Bilstein shocks, skid plates, aluminum-alloy off-road wheels, rear differential locker, and many interior comfort upgrades, starts at $33,430.
Finally, Frontier Crew Cab models come with a standard V6 ($24,950), though in this size you can choose between a six-speed manual and automatic transmission. Midnight Edition models start at $29,235.
4. Fuel economy and safety specs
In a dated model like this Frontier, you won’t find excellent crash-test ratings or fuel economy on par with an all-new engine and transmission. EPA estimates don’t top 20 mpg for any model except the two-wheel-drive manual four-cylinder model (21 mpg).
The V6 model peaks at 19 mpg with manual transmission, while an automatic V6 drops to 17 mpg combined.
In crash tests, the IIHS found the 2018 Frontier to offer “marginal” protection for the driver, while passenger tests were not done for the last year (the latest). Headlight quality rated poorly.
5. Release and configuration
In a statement, Nissan said the 2019 Frontier was already in dealerships and ready for consumers to start optioning. However, at the time of writing, the online configurator was still running with the 2018 edition.
Through the first eight months of the year, sales looked on track to match or exceed totals from last year (75,000). If that pace held, 2018 would be the second-best sales year for Frontier since 2004.