Did We Drive the Next Nissan Frontier?

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By Chad Kirchner

To say that the Nissan Frontier is getting a bit long in the tooth would be the understatement of the millennium. Last receiving a significant refresh in 2004, the truck is nearly old enough to get its own driver's license. Yet, all these years later, it's still a good truck.

Related: Nissan Holds the Line on 2019 Frontier Pricing

But like all things automotive, the Frontier will eventually get an update. Pinning down an exact date from the folks at Nissan is difficult, but there are reports it's likely to happen soon. Again, getting them to confirm that is difficult.

When it does go on sale, what could that new Frontier be like? Fortunately, we don't have to look far for inspiration. In other parts of the world, Nissan sells the Navara pickup. This metric-ton pickups (meaning it can carry more than 2,000 pounds) shares a heritage with the Frontier, and it's a likely bet that an updated Frontier would be similar.

Arctic Trucks Navara AT32

I recently had a chance to drive the newest Arctic Trucks version of the Navara in North Africa. The Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 was probably my favorite truck of those I drove in 2018, and it shows us some of the way forward for the new Frontier when it comes to market.

Also sold as the Alaskan under the Renault badge, the Nissan Navara is a thoroughly modern truck with a ton of capability. Navaras come with locking rear ends and four-wheel drive. The Arctic Trucks version raises the truck by just more than three-quarters of an inch and adds a front locker and unique tires. A 2.3-liter diesel engine provides plenty of torque for off-roading, and the seven-speed automatic transmission is quite refined.

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Adding to the refinement is a load of creature comforts inside, including Nissan's Zero Gravity seats that are heated, dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation, cruise control with limit functions and even a 360-degree camera system.

Finally, ride quality is helped by a five-link rear suspension setup. Even with that setup, it's rated to tow 7,716 pounds in 4x4 configurations, though the Europeans don't have a towing standard like SAE International's J2807.

While you can find some of those features on the 2019 Frontier, it lacks most of the advanced technology.

Navara Vs. Frontier

For me, the Frontier is appealing if any of the following is true: trucks are too expensive, trucks are too complicated or trucks are too big. The Navara checks only one of those boxes.

A British journalist who was on the Nissan drive said that the Navara is considered a premium pickup truck in the United Kingdom and Europe; in the U.S., the Frontier is a smart value buy.

Regardless of how Nissan positions the updated Frontier, we can be assured we'll still get a lot of the Navara's technology, especially on the higher trims. The 360-degree camera is making its way to many Nissan products, including the Titan and several crossovers.

Navigation and dual-zone climate control are already available on Frontier but expect the updated NissanConnect multimedia system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It'd also be wise to expect the LED headlights to make their way to the Frontier.

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The Navara Dark Sky concept, created in conjunction with the European Space Agency, epitomizes a future Navara. That Navara has Nissan's ProPilot Assist driver assistance technology, tuned for towing a trailer, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see that in both the new Frontier and Navara as an option.

The Navara isn't larger than the Frontier, thankfully. The Frontier has a 125.9-inch wheelbase for the short bed, and the Navara short bed is 124-inch (after converting from metric). Since the Navara is crash-rated for the U.S., it does give me hope that the new truck won't grow significantly in size.

Under the Hood

The biggest unknown is the engine. The Navara gets two diesel options, depending on trim. Neither of those engines are certified for sale in the U.S. Nissan does have a partnership with Cummins, which has a 2.8-liter diesel that would likely fit nicely. It was even put in a Frontier concept a few years back.

It's more likely, though, that the new Frontier will be powered by a gas engine. A revised version of the 4.0-liter V-6 in the current truck would be fine, but Nissan should use the seven-speed automatic transmission instead of the antiquated five-speed. A six-speed manual should also be an option.

Depending on how Nissan positions the new Frontier, it may try to hit a specific price. Some of the safety technology will be inexpensive to add, but some of the luxury features won't be. In fact, the Navara AT32 we drove was more than $64,000. Arguably, that truck is as good or better than the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, which starts at $48,045 with destination.

Ideally, the new Frontier will remain the value player it always has been, especially in the lower trim levels, while still offering something for enthusiasts to get excited about. It might be a NISMO-badged Frontier or some variation of the Pro-4X, but it'd be awesome to have something like the Navara AT32 to compete with the Colorado ZR2 here in the states. We'll just have to wait and see.

Manufacturer images

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Comments

Add a steel front bumper and an extended bed option then I’ll be interested. Especially if they can get that baby Cummins in there. I love my current Frontier. The best part is that it’s a paid for 4x4/workhorse. It may not have all the bells and whistles that my neighbor’s Colorado has. But fortunately I was taught how to back a truck up without nanny devices...

Well said. The current generation Frontier is getting old around the edges but it's still built around a great core. Offering a 7 speed automatic is fine as far as that goes but we have to hope the geniuses who are running Nissan these days don't forget to include a lever and clutch for those so inclined.

Since I would plan to keep it a few years, I wouldn't buy an already obsolete product - it needs LED lights, lane keeping, ACC, emergency braking, blind side sensors, etc.

Unfortunately, Nissan hasn't been very proactive in the pickup market so my Frontier expectations are low.

Nissan hasn't been very proactive in the pickup market so my Frontier expectations are low...Posted by: ken | Jan 21, 2019

Ok, but show me another brand that offers a V6 crew cab automatic priced in the mid 20s.

A similarly equipped Colorado or Tacoma puts you into the high 30s. I guess it all depends on your needs versus your wants.

To all,

I owe most of you a sincere apology for always treating you so badly. Pickuptrucks.com is a really great site, but I just have trouble not calling people idiots, jerks, morons and any other demaning names that come to mind. I made a new years resolution to myself to start treating you, my friends in the online community a little better this year. Can't we all just get along? If I ever mistreat any of you going forward, please don't hesitate to let me know as that will help me behave better in the future. We are all in this together.

Yours in brotherly love,

papajim

I love my 08 Frontier V6 4x4. It has what I want and need and none of the fluff that I don't want. I put on the towing mirrors so backing up is a breeze. I can reach over the bedsides without a ladder and the tailgate height is reasonable. I'm keeping it for another 10 years.

You mentioned "unique tires" what was unique about them?

Not holding out a lot of hope. Nissan seems to be dropping the ball with pickups. Nissan promised more options with the Titan like a v6 engine yet they still don't even offer a sunroof. No 6.5 bed on the standard Titan.

Nissan promised more options with the Titan like a v6 engine yet they still don't even offer a sunroof. ..Posted by: Snowman | Jan 21, 2019

No V6 is probably not killing very many Titan sales.

I still haven't seen a Titan work truck. The Titans i've seen lately were upscale models. Speaking only for myself, I'd rather have a V8 Titan with four flat tires than a F150 pulling a Rolls Royce.

Is that a snorkel or a robot arm that gives high 5's to Colarado's for being way better

papajim:

Projecting again?

Nissan have done well in promoting the Navara as premium in the UK . But the UK and rest of the EU is not reknown as 4x4, let alone pickup centric. From the authors perspective maybe he should use Australia as a measure when assessing pickups. I read somewhere Australia sells more pickups per capita than anyone else globally.

Here Down Under the Navara consistently at the bottom of the pack with the Colrado, Izuzu Dmax and Mitsubishi Triton.

The premium utes here are the Amarok, X Class Benz and Ford Raptor/Wildtrak.

In the middle is the BT50 and Hilux.

To Waters, I have a snorkel and steel bull bar on my pickup, both have been used.

To the author your SAE tow standards are only good in the US. Global midsizers are overall stronger than US midsizers and better tuned for work, you seem very one eyed, American pickups are 'softer' overall.

With the ZR2 Bison and upcoming Gladiator Rubicon pushing prices upward, there is no worry about being priced too high.
For power, I’d expect Nissan to go with the segment standard- 3.5L DI V6, wide ratio auto trans (7speed).
The coil sprung rear would ad cost, but can provide excellent suspension tuning.

Just a little clarification:

The US products are superior. Australia's auto assembly plants were boarded-up several years ago, hence no "Australian" pickups extant. Thus, no SAE standards would apply to "Australian" pickups anyway.

@PapaTROLL

Speaking only for myself, I'd rather have a V8 Titan with four flat tires than a F150 pulling a Rolls Royce.


Posted by: papajim | Jan 21, 2019 10:45:03 AM

That’s not saying much. After all, you drive a 20 year old ( 1999 ) 4.8L Silverado, a truck that is an embarrassment of epic proportions.

The 99 Silverado's are classing leading gems. I don't own one however. Your facts fail---again!

@Chad Kirchener. and @ Mark Williams
Good article on the Navara, problem it is not a great seller here beaten by its stablemate Mitsubishi Triton in sales, by a fair margin
The Small 2.3 Diesel is from Renault and does very well, but Mr Knowitall got it right saying the Gas engine will be used in the Frontier. Small Cummins is not that brilliant. Artic Trucks has done a good job modifying the Navara for Off Road

@Chad Kirchener
The Toyota LandCruiser is rated as towing 8,500lbs using the SAE standard but drops down to 7,700lbs using Australian ADR's
We are now testing all Pickups to be used in Europe, was a discrepancy between the two testing centre's in Europe, so we are now rating what Pickups are sold in Europe. More conservative rating than previously

I'd take a 4.8L or 5.3L over any furd offerings during 1997 to 2010. Both engines perform better than their counterparts (4.6L and 5.4L)

I'd take a Nissan Titan midnight edition also over any new Ford product out there, except maybe an FX4 crew cab f150 with a 5.0L and 3.73 rear end. That's not a bad truck. They'd have to throw in the 100k extended warranty on the deal along with a free fire extinguisher.

Nissan needs to bring in a new frontier quickly. It should have done it the same time as Ranger to try and take way some of its nostalgia. They really missed out on opportunity. Now they might have to compete with the resurrection of the Dakota next.

Nice truck, I hope when the new Frontier comes that it is priced below the Ranger. I would take this over the Ranger.

@TNTGAY


Goes to show how much of a loser you are too.

The Ford fangays have ruined this comments section.

The Ford fangays have ruined this comments section.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Jan 21, 2019 6:26:24 PM

So you consider yourself a Ford fangay now huh? Interesting.

@ imposter tntgmc

Your clearly a ford humper, so why use my username? Or anyone else's name?

Why not just use your own?

Why not tell us what you drive instead of bashing a 4.8l motor from papajims truck that has been trouble free for almost ten years? (Not 20 btw..)

Come on, stop being a total D'bag and own up to it....we will wait for your response

This truck is not.tested to be sold in the U.S. not even close. Daimler would not sell their version of it in the U.S. because it costs too much to make it meet FMVSS. Daimler guys in europe, off the record, said this truck isn't capable of coming to the U.S. due to crash.

Clearly no research was done here.

We'll get some warmed over version of the current Frontier, just like the Titan is the same as the previous version with fresh sheet metal.

So you consider yourself a Ford fangay now huh? Interesting.

Posted by: TNTGMC | Jan 21, 2019 7:32:50 PM

Why are you suddenly interested in Ford fangays, fake TNTGMC ? Is there something you want to reveal to everyone here at PUTC ?

the Titan is the same as the previous version with fresh sheet metal...Posted by: Donny | Jan 21, 2019

Which "previous version" of the Titan offered a V8 diesel, Donny?

I've visited this site less in recent weeks and I can say things never change around here. So let me get this straight, for MOST of you, the measure of a pickup is in it's backup cameras, lane keeping assist, apple car play and other entertainment or nanny tech? Because when the comparisons really start to fly is around all the bells and whistles that give you an excuse to be a bad driver.

the bells and whistles that give you an excuse to be a bad driver.
Posted by: MLS956

Agree. Based on what I see on the roads, you don't even need an excuse to be a bad driver.

Where I live the state loves to deny you a gun permit---but they'll gladly let ANY drunk who's got DUI convictions have a "daytime" license to drive to work.

My exwife's brother was killed in a car wreck. The woman driving the other car was drunk. She ALREADY had a fatality on her bleeping driving record BEFORE he was killed. (New York State).

@Donny
Daimler said it would not come to the US that is pretty funny as they do not produce it

There is almost nothing useful in that article. We all know the Frontier is old. Other than the Narava is the same size, can tow 7K (in a class almost nobody tows in), has a 5 link rear, and we don't know if any of it will translate into or replace the Frontier.

The Frontier's replacement will have all the tech nanny goodies that are #1 mandated, #2 wanted by many customers, #3 drive up price and profitability for the manufacturer. And if it doesn't the press will fry them, and people who never would have bought a Frontier still wont and the few people left buying them will continue to buy them, die, or buy other little trucks that have cooler stuff.

It was interesting selling frontiers in 2013. It was the Taco's only competition. Like the Taco it was a quality product. Unlike the Taco it had a fully boxed frame, 4 wheel disc brakes, and the V6 had 20 more hp than the Taco... and the Taco still CRUSHED it in sales. The only advantage the Taco had was its 4cyl was more powerful than the Frontiers and was available in the 4x4. But you look at what matters... Frame, Brakes, Power the Frontier was easily the better choice but for most it wasn't their choice. They Chevy comes along with the first all new little truck in forever. And honestly it was better than the Taco in every measure of performance... and it cant touch it in sales... and the Ranger will feel the same burn, even thought in some places over time it has overtaken its Toy competitor.

@Clint, Great points.

@Clint-Agree. Even if the new Ranger is better the Tacoma will still come out top in sales. Loyal Toyota owners and high resale.



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