It has been a long time coming, but Nissan executives assure us that new Frontier midsize pickup is coming and we will see it soon. “It is a priority for us,” said Ivan Espinosa, corporate vice president of Global and Japan product planning.
We will see the renewed pickup next year. Nissan officials have not decided if it will be shown at an auto show or a separate event. Either way, a new truck will be most welcome. The current Frontier dates back to the 2005 model year, with a refresh for 2009. The Xterra SUV, which was based on the same body-on-frame platform, has long been discontinued. Despite its age, the Frontier continues to prove popular, outselling the GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline, and is close to the Ford Ranger‘s sales in the U.S.
As for the new one in the works, “I think it will be a home run,” said Espinosa in an interview with MotorTrend at the Tokyo Motor Show.
The Frontier has a strong legacy, built on the strength of the technology it had at launch and its driving dynamics, Espinosa says. The new truck benefits from all that Nissan has learned over the years to ensure the next generation has similar winning traits. “We’ll keep nailing that.” The new Frontier will use the same basic platform it is on now but modified so that it has the chassis and electrical architecture needed to compete in today’s world where all vehicles must have the latest safety, driver-assist, and connectivity technology.
The truck will also have a different and better powertrain, but Espinosa would not elaborate. This is expected given that the current offerings are old and anemic compared with the competition. The 2019 Frontier has a 152-hp, 171-lb-ft 2.5-liter I-4 and an optional 261-hp, 281-lb-ft 4.0-liter V-6. A six-speed manual is standard, with an available and ancient five-speed automatic. We expect a new V-6, updated six-speed manual, and new seven-speed auto in the next Frontier.
There will not be any electric motors at launch but as Nissan increasingly electrifies its future portfolio, the automaker will gauge whether that should be considered in the future, said Espinosa. Alfonso Albaisa, Global Vice President of Design, would not say if the design has been locked in—we believe it is—but he did say the truck will have the “spirituality of adventure” and be more extraverted than the overall design direction Nissan products are taking for the future because it is a truck. Albaisa described the look as “strong,” and the expectation is it will be more revolutionary in design than just an evolution of current look.