Sneak a long-awaited peek at Nissan’s next-gen Frontier truck

Since 2004, the second-generation Nissan Frontier has served dutifully in the mid-sized truck segment with precious few updates. Though its sales figures would suggest that Frontier buyers continue to love the old-school hold-out. Nissan’s most popular pickup is finally getting its long-awaited overhaul; the new 2022 Nissan Frontier will break cover on Febuary 4, 2021.

Details surrounding the exact drivetrains and specs are still scarce, but a look at the truck’s international cousin should give us a good idea of what to expect. That pickup relative is the foreign-market Navara, which Nissan revealed last fall.

The Frontier was teased in Nissan’s “From A to Z” announcement, which previewed its “NEXT” product plan. Nissan
2021 nissan navara
The 2021 Navara shares its overall profile with the teased ’22 Frontier, serving as a loose reference for what the upcoming U.S.-market truck may look like. Nissan

Despite some minor body and styling differences between the two trucks, we expect them to share general proportions and a common design language. The 2022 Frontier’s head- and tail lamps, along with the cut-out shapes for the side glass, will be unique so as to better mimic those of the current Titan.

Some of the body gaps vary between the Navara and the Frontier, and the trailing edges of the cab and bed appear to take a different approach, as well. We can only tell so much from the teaser, but if the Navara is any indicator, we can expect the Frontier to look completely revamped compared to what we’ve seen on U.S. roads for the past sixteen years.

Nissan has been mum about the Frontier’s drivetrain, but the relatively new 3.8-liter direct-injected V-6 and nine-speed automatic that joined the Frontier for 2021 is already armed and ready. Compared to the VQ-based 4.0-liter V-6 and five-speed auto/six-speed manual transmissions that Nissan retired, torque remained about the same (at 281 lb-ft) but horsepower rose from 275 to 310 hp with a modest bump in fuel economy. For those eyeing the Navara’s diesel offerings, don’t hold your breath given the sad fate of the Cummins-powered Titan. While mid-size trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon have long-offered an oil-burning option to the delight of customers, Nissan may not be willing to roll the dice twice by certifying another drivetrain, especially as we begin knocking on the door of an all-EV future.

One thing’s for sure, Nissan has to get this truck right. Sales have been robust despite the fact that that current model is old enough buy R-rated movie tickets, so it’s clear the Frontier has a loyal fan base with established expectations. By and large, the Frontier has outsold the more powerful and capable Titan many times over, often besting its big brother by around 30,000 units annually, even in the midst of a whole new-generation overhaul for the full-size truck. With any luck, Nissan will recognize the merits of this resilient little truck and improve upon the same basic approach.



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