Is a Cummins-Powered Nissan Frontier on the Way?

1 Frontier_Diesel_Runner_01 II

Although it's not ready to make any official announcements yet about a new powertrain for the next-generation midsize Frontier pickup truck, Nissan will unveil an interesting project vehicle at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Sitting under the hood of the stylized two-wheel-drive Frontier Desert Runner pickup sits an all-new Cummins turbo-diesel 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder. The concept truck's mission is to gauge the reaction of showgoers to see if there might be enough sales interest in a small diesel in a midsize pickup.

Astute readers of may recognize something familiar about this Cummins engine: It is the same engine used in two different Nissan Titans for the U.S. Department of Energy's ongoing study testing the viability of a small clean diesel in a light-duty pickup.

Called Atlas (Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems), the project started in 2010. Since then we've done several updates, with the most recent in March 2013. Although Atlas put the small diesel in Titans, Nissan is showcasing it inside the smaller — and much lighter, by about 1,000 pounds — Frontier.

The DOE reported fuel economy of around 26 mpg when the engine was installed in the full-size Titans. We can assume those numbers would be at least 15 percent better in the Frontier. Torque ratings for the engine were reported to be 385 pounds-feet (the same as the 5.6-liter V-8 Endurance gas engine), with horsepower ratings around 200.

This smaller turbo-diesel engine could make a lot of sense in this segment. Clearly, GM hopes so when its turbo-diesels come online in 2016 in both the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. However, a lot depends on the price of diesel fuel and the additional cost an optional diesel engine will carry compared to Nissan's 4.0-liter V-6 gas engine.

The Cummins turbo-diesel 2.8-liter I-4 is likely to weigh more than Nissan's stout all-aluminum 4.0-liter V-6 gas engine, so that's probably why Nissan chose to put the little power plant in a two-wheel-drive Desert Runner platform. Nissan says installing the little Cummins and the ZF eight-speed transmission that sits behind it (the same one in the Ram 1500) is not easy, but it looks like it could provide some fantastic corporate average fuel economy help for the Nissan lineup. By our estimates, this engine in the midsize truck could offer more than 32 mpg on the highway, with a combined figure somewhere more than 26 mpg. That could work, especially when you look at some of the comparison numbers with other vehicles on the market already.

To read the full press release for the Frontier Diesel Runner, click here.




4 Frontier_Diesel_Runner_13 II

6 Frontier_Diesel_Runner_25 II

8 Frontier_Diesel_Runner_10 II

9 Frontier_Diesel_Runner_11 II

7 Frontier_Diesel_Runner_06 II


Its a pretty good bet Nissan will be offering this engine in the next Frontier as well as a smaller option in the Titan if you don't need the Cummins. Nissan has been working on it for five years now.

People have purchased a LOT of Ram trucks simply because of Cummins... it looks like Nissan has a good opportunity here. This would sell.

Now THAT is a Tacoma fighter.

I would seriously consider the diesel frontier.I say that because right now the only CONFIRMED midsize diesel offering will be in the gm midsize twins.Not being brand loyal,and having owned both Cummins diesels and VM Motori diesels in the past I have no problem with either of the two oems that seem to be smarter then some other oems.

I wonder if the 2.8 Cummins will replace the 2.5 CRD in other markets.

The golden age of mid sized trucks is rapidly approaching, and it is fantastic to watch. Within 3-4 years the choices for mid sized trucks should be as good as that of half tons right now.

I would buy one in a MINUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Want a fully loaded with leather, crew cab, long bed, 4x4.

I like this combo. I hope Nissan is hard at work on a new Frontier with this drivetrain combo. GM was the first to announce a diesel in a mid-size truck but I have a feeling with this "concept" we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg for this market.

I hope Nissan is being aggresive with hte aluminum and aerodynamics with their next round of trucks. That with some diesel power could create some fantastic trucks.

Man! Nissan is going to steal all of Ram's thunder if they do this (coming from a Ram/Dodge Fan). They already have plans for a Cummins in the Titan, now they are pondering a mini-Cummins with a ZF (known as the TorqueFlite8 in a Chrysler) auto in a Frontier! I think Nissan has made a great decision to pair up with Cummins. Like previous comments have pointed out, many people have purchased a Dodge because it had a Cummins in it. Some have even peeled the Dodge from the Cummins and thrown it in their Fords and Chevys.
But, i think it shows that many engine and transmission manufacturers are willing to put their products in anything as long as the money is there. Great for the consumer.

Still going to have to better a little better than the projected estimates for me. I need at least 27/35 (c/h) to even consider a diesel.

Why is this so complicated? Just take the Nissan Navaro overseas powertrain and bring it here.

This is a fantastic idea!

Midsized trucks could finally make a comeback.

I could totally see the new age of trucks...full sized trucks making above 19-20 city being the norm, and midsized trucks making 30 or more on the highway.

If we could just move past six speed transmissions in more manufacturers. And educate customers more about the product they're buying. Yesterday at the pump, complimented a guy's truck (Chevy), he bitched about the 7 speed transmission in it not shifting right. No matter how I insisted...he was sure Chevy had a 7 speed.

Count me in. I'd buy the Frontier/Cummins-4 in a NY-minute.
Forget the Tacoma, this is a "Colorado-beater..."

Put this in the nissan NV van ASAP!!

Diesels are the wave of the future in trucks. Cars will follow as time goes on.
Look at Europe and you are looking at the USA's future, diesels will be the norm not the exception.

@Jeff S

Jeff you surprise me! GM's 7 speed auto has been around for awhile, Jeff.

I have owned one. Six forward speeds, one reverse.


Has anyone for a minute thought that if we all of a sudden have more diesels in America, with all the extra demand for the fuel what will happen to the price? I would bet the price will go up with the demand, as much as .50 cents /gal easy! and just think what that would do the big trucks that need the fuel to haul everything! even in Europe diesel fuel is very expensive! compared to here!

@papa jim--That was not me, that was the other Jeff, but thanks for the info. I do think Nissan has something with this diesel.

The US exports much diesel to the EU. The US also isn't the only place with fracting and shale oil.

You will have diesel. You use a lot of distillate for central heating, which is gradually moving to gas.

Plus you own a gasser and diesel's don't interest you.

Why worry if it makes gas cheaper for you pickup?

I haven’t been on a Nissan car lot in years but this 2.8 Cummins in the Frontier will get me there.

Well, this is great news. Also...........I told you so.

I had done a bit of reading on this particular engine as it was the engine developed jointly with Cummins/Nissan and the EPA.

It seems logical this engine for the Frontier. Our Navara use a V6 diesel with about 250hp and 410ftlb of torque and they go well enough. The base diesel is a 2.5 with 180hp and 330ftlb of torque.

So Nissan already have most of what was needed for this pickup selling for years and they have decades of experience making midsize diesels.

I hope we get these Cummins as well in our Nissan's as we already get the 2.8 ISF in a Foton pickup from China.

@Jeff S
We already get the V6 diesel Nissan with a 7spd auto.

@Big Al--I do hope that these Cummins diesels put Nissan back in the truck game. It has been a long dry spell for Nissan trucks in the US. When Nissan went under the Datsun name they had a real lead in the compact truck market. The Datsun had a reputation for an affordable and tough truck. Maybe this will get Toyota moving as well. Toyota makes good reliable vehicles but they need to update the Tacoma and make it more competitive. Competition is good!

@Jeff S
I think I stated that Nissan will give us a glimpse of the new Frontier/Navara at Chicago with the 2.8 Cummins.

I still want to see the new Navara and Titan. Nissan has to do something a little more than this to maintain interest or potential pickup owners will just say, 'I'll look elsewhere'.

I think when the next Navara and Hilux come out they will supersede the Ranger, BT50, Amarok, Colorado, Dmax, etc.

I told you guys a while ago about these diesels heading your way.

I say this Cummins is the replacement diesel.

Cummins has a huge factory near Beijing just to produce this engine.

We already have this engine in the Foton pickup and the engine has received great reviews.

This engine also has a designed life cycle of 500 000km, which will make it last longer than the vehicle probably.

Diesel fight. Can't wait to see who is next. We have more better diesels than Australia suddenly.
I will buy 6.4 HEMI next. Best solution for cold Canada. At least Nissan will use automatic transmission, not a clutch.

@Big Al--Yes you did say these diesels would be heading our way. This could also revive the midsize truck market as well.

@Jeff S
The way diesel started in Australia the different manufacturers took several years to bring them online.

It all really started to kick off in the mid 80s for us when diesel sales started to climb. But diesels back then offered FE with little performance, so they took a while to catch on.

The US is luckier as you guys are starting off with much better performing diesels, this should improve the rate of diesel take up in the US.

I really think this is exciting for you guys.

@Big Al, I HATED diesels until common rail injection came along just over 10 years ago (I know the technology has been around longer), but I mean to market.

@papa jim

Sorry, should have clarified he had a Chevy Silverado. About 2009 it looked like. They use six speeds.

@Southern IL Man,
Too add what Big Al from Oz has posted, the Spanish built Navara a bulked up version of the Frontier has a 2,100 payload for the Dual Cab and a 405lbs ft feet of torque. if you can improve the quality of your diesel power will go up.

Hard to image a Frontier doing this.

WAIT! THIS IS NISSAN TRUCKS!! They will need a 6 year gestation period followed by an uncertain and lengthy labor.

It is 2014 and the 2009 redesign is still what, 2 years from reality?

We will see a diesel Frontier, in, lets see, get the math right, oh in 2021, or maybe 2022.

I can't wait. No really, I cannot wait.

It will be interesting to see what the ratio of diesel to gas engines will be in 5 years time. I bet Nissan will have 2 diesels. Ram will have 2. Ford is rumoured to be planning a diesel for the F150 and may have 2 separate diesel options for the HD. The Transit is the only confirmed Ford diesel so far.
That leaves GMC with the HD Duramax. Toyota will be the only player in the game without a diesel (but for how long).

It will be interesting to see what the ratio of diesel to gas engines will be in 5 years time. I bet Nissan will have 2 diesels. Ram will have 2. Ford is rumoured to be planning a diesel for the F150 and may have 2 separate diesel options for the HD. The Transit is the only confirmed Ford diesel so far.
That leaves GMC with the HD Duramax. Toyota will be the only player in the game without a diesel (but for how long).

Estimated $ please? I was hoping for the Ram until sticker shock hit. Prices on trucks are exorbitant. They've priced themselves into luxury car price range...for a "beatem-up" truck

I am happy to see the small diesel option on mid-size trucks coming soon. They should have Good mgp, great torque, longevity, value retention ect.
I have never personally had experience with them, only larger class 8 cummings, detroits and cats...
I wonder how the feds will deal with the ability of some people to use farm diesel fuel (non-taxed and colored with dye)? Maybe no action at all because its a private vehicle?
Out on the road in class 8 trucks if you get a fuel inspection and have farm fuel in the truck its a federal offense with HUGE fines!
Some have the ability to collect and refine their own bio diesel from cooking oil/soybean oil ect... which adds to the appeal of a oil burner.
How about cold weather? I assume a diesel additive will be needed to prevent jelling in extreme cold weather like larger trucks?
If these catch on I can see a lot of new jobs opening for small diesel engine techs. Class 8 diesel techs make $25-35 an hour depending on experience. If I was young and looking for a skilled trade paying good money and working indoors out of the weather.. that would be it.

Will you have to plug these in everytime it gets below 30 degrees?

@Joe - most engines will turn over fine down to -25 C (-13F).

@Lou @Joe

Actually, guys, in my own experience the battery is more likely to disappoint at sub zero temps than the fuel, spark or intake.

I do think that when the new Navara/Frontier and the Hilux/Tacoma come out they will be in front of the VW Amarok, Ranger/BT50 and Colorado/Izuzu Dmax.

This is a teaser to gauge interest. I don't know why, because just the release of the US Colorado increased interest in the midsize debate.

A 2WD? That is what interests me, why not release a diesel 4x4 concept? But an estimated 32mpg on the highway is 12% better than the V6 diesel Ram.

It's all about numbers now.

I will buy this truck if they bring it to the market. Period. I would prefer it be mated to a manual transmission, but I will still purchase if it isn't.

Guys here in Europe Nissan Frontier is offering as ' Navara ' . Is already has a v6 3.0L Diesel option that makes 231 Hp with an 7-speed auto transmission . I can't anderstant why is not offering in the U . S.

Posted by: Shaun McGuire | Feb 8, 2014 4:53:05 PM

Guys here in Europe Nissan Frontier is offering as ' Navara ' . Is already has a v6 3.0L Diesel option that makes 231 Hp with an 7-speed auto transmission . I can't anderstant why is not offering in the U . S.


US Federalization of that engine would probably be too expensive. They are using an engine that has been developed for the US. Doesn't make sense to spend millions to legalize that Euro engine. If this is a huge hit they may do it in the future or develop a 3.0 for here.

The new engine’s specifications were established to meet the expectations of Renault’s Nissan’s and Infiniti’s customers, which means that the engine can be put on various types of cars (coupes, sedans, SUVs…) and commercialized in various parts of the world, such as Europe, and the US.

I think you'll find the US is more than likely to use the V6 diesels for the half ton pickups more than anything.

The 4 cylinder diesels will work in a full size, but they will make the midsizers much more competitive.

We use the V6 diesel in the Navara as well, but we also don't have a large full size market. So our midsizers do what your full sizers do.

But, anything can happen.

@Big Al

More examples of US policy blocking the desires of consumers. If I want to buy a truck built anywhere in the world, why not? Mazda, Ranger, whatever.

Wall Street would roar (in a good way) if automaker (and union) protection policies were reversed. Global free trade is reality. Protectionism is the marketplace equivalent of of hostility and war. Tariffs in the 19th century were the ways that early American One-percenters blocked European goods from competing with domestic suppliers. Immigration and rising US labor costs killed that approach. Instead we now have the IRS.

Be careful what you wish for.

Looks like a Subaru Brat.

@Big Al from Oz

Interesting info. The article seems to imply it is pretty much confirmed this engine will be used in the US cars and trucks. Let's see what happens, sure are exciting times.

Glad to see trucks like this new Frontier, the Canyon, Colorado, and the Ram 1500 offering clean diesels in the near future. I think the united states is finally embracing smaller diesels such as the 2.8L Cummins or Duramax, or 3.0L Fiat ecoboost in the 1500. Hopefully, newer, cleaner turbo diesels will start to gain hold, perhaps leading to a consumer base that enjoys the thrills of the torque provided by diesels when tuned for a truck, or the efficiency of the european diesel models of ford fiestas and volkswagen lupos capable of 80+ mpg when driven conservatively. THIS FRONTIER IS WICKED! Can't wait to see it in action.

go for it nissan i'll buy one if you put it out. i have a nissan frontier diesel in the Philippines and its great and last forever.

Have been waiting to replace my truck until small diesel powered one is available. Build it and price it right Nissan

The comments to this entry are closed.