Nissan will reportedly redesign the Frontier for the 2021 model year, basing it on a thoroughly updated version of the F-Alpha platform found under the current Frontier as well as the Titan and Armada.
Speaking to Automotive News, sources familiar with the product said the 2021 Frontier would receive a futuristic design that “still looks like a truck.” Curiously, the new Frontier won’t make the jump to the NP300 platform found under the global-market Nissan Navara, Mercedes-Benz X-Class, and Renault Alaskan pickups. According to Automotive News, the Navara is too small to compete effectively in the North American market, and reengineering its coil-link rear suspension to use cheaper leaf springs would be costly. Thus, the 2020 Frontier will soldier on using F-Alpha architecture.
It will also reportedly be powered by a 300hp V-6, replacing the torquey but thirsty 4.0L VQ-series six-cylinder in the current Frontier. It’s possible the new Frontier will receive a revised VQ35 3.5L V-6 that features direct injection—the current Pathfinder crossover uses a 284hp direct-injected VQ35 engine. The current Maxima also uses a VQ 3.5L V-6 (though lacking direct injection) that makes 300 hp. Whatever the case may be, the 300hp V-6 in the Frontier will be paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission, up from five speeds in the current truck. We hope a six-speed manual gearbox will still be offered as well.
In spite of its age and relative lack of finesse compared to more modern midsize trucks, the Frontier still sells reasonably well—behind the Rogue and the Murano, the Frontier is Nissan’s third bestselling utility vehicle. And in 2018, it still represented 15 percent of U.S. midsize truck sales, beating out the GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline in terms of volume. That could partly be thanks to its low starting price, at less than $20,000. Furthermore, even loaded with every feature, the Frontier slots in at less than $40,000, while other midsize pickups can be optioned to $50,000 or more.
Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to an all-new Frontier, more so if it maintains its charming, fun-to-drive character. And if sources within the company prove correct, we’ll only have to wait another year or so to find out.
Source: Automotive News