Nissan Frontier pickup totally redesigned for first time in 17 years

The old version of its Nissan Frontier pickup has finally killed Nissan. On Thursday, the automaker unveiled a redesigned version, marking the first complete overhaul in 17 years for the midsize pickup.

Two major automakers have declared bankruptcy since the Frontier underwent its last makeover in 2004, an upstart named Tesla has surged as a car making force, semi-autonomous vehicles have appeared, and the nation has lived through four full presidential terms.

That’s a time of Jurassic proportions for an industry that usually redesigns vehicles every half a decade or so. Since a redesign, it was longer than any other car in the auto industry had gone.

“The Frontier carries with it a legacy of a lot of satisfied customers,”The Frontier carries with it a legacy of a lot of satisfied clients. “We’ve spoken to them, we’ve listened to them and we’re bringing out with this new Frontier, a capable truck.”

The redesigned Frontier is entering the world at a time when Americans’ love for pickups has reached an all-time high, representing about 1 in 4 vehicles sold. But the competition for the midsize segment is fierce. It includes the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator and Honda Ridgeline. 

In the face of stiffer competition, frontier sales were flagging. In 2019 and 49.1 percent in 2020, U.S. revenues fell 9.1 percent.

Nissan did not disclose pricing, but according to car-research site Edmunds, the previous version was supposed to start at around $27,000 for the 2021 model year.

The 2022 Frontier boasts a 6-cylinder, 3.8-liter engine coupled with an automatic 9-speed transmission. It has 310 horsepower and a capacity of 6,720 pounds for towing.

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Nissan has finally killed the old design of its Nissan Frontier pickup. The automaker on Thursday revealed a redesigned version, marking the first total overhaul for the midsize pickup in 17 years. 

Since the Frontier got its last makeover in 2004, two major automakers have declared bankruptcy, an upstart called Tesla has surged as a carmaking force, semi-autonomous vehicles have emerged and the nation has lived through four full presidential terms.

For an industry that typically redesigns vehicles every half a decade or so, that’s a period of Jurassic proportions. It was longer than any other vehicle in the auto industry had gone since a redesign.

“The Frontier carries with it a legacy of a lot of satisfied customers,” said Jared Haslam, vice president of product planning for Nissan North America. “We’ve spoken to them, we’ve listened to them and we’re bringing out with this new Frontier, a capable truck.”

The redesigned Frontier is entering the world at a time when Americans’ love for pickups has reached an all-time high, representing about 1 in 4 vehicles sold. But the competition for the midsize segment is fierce. It includes the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator and Honda Ridgeline. 

Frontier sales have been flagging in the face of stiffer competition. U.S. sales fell 9.1% in 2019 and 49.1% in 2020.

Nissan did not reveal pricing, but the previous version was expected to start at about $27,000 for the 2021 model year, according to car-research site Edmunds. 

The 2022 Frontier boasts a 3.8-liter, 6-cylinder engine paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It gets 310 horsepower and has towing capacity of 6,720 pounds.

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Nissan said the vehicle’s all-new steering and suspension reduce road vibration by 80%, making for a smoother ride.

“The new Frontier can’t arrive too soon, as truck demand remains robust in the U.S. and Nissan was losing share in this segment,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, in an email. “Between its long list of standard features and available high-tech equipment, the new Frontier should be a strong seller. Loyal Frontier fans finally have something to celebrate.”

To be sure, Nissan has gradually upgraded the Frontier over the years, adding incremental technological upgrades to the interior and powertrain. 

But this is the first time it’s gotten a new look from top to bottom. One of the biggest differences Frontier fans will notice is that it’s nearly 5 inches longer than its predecessor – part of a trend of vehicles getting bigger across the board.

It also has new technologies, such as a device that senses when the trailer of the pickup is swaying and applies the brakes. It has an optional charging system for wireless phones as well.

An 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto comes standard with the latest Frontier, but a 9-inch screen is available as an upgrade. In recent years, screens have been getting bigger in cars.

“We feel very confident in our ability to raise the transaction prices on the vehicle,” Haslam said.

The willingness of The Frontier to continue selling without a redesign for a decade and a half is a reflection of how popular pickups are in America.

“The Frontier was the most egregious example of Nissan’s lack of product investment, though I think sustained truck demand kept the aging Frontier selling at a solid clip while allowing Nissan to fully amortize costs and maximize profits on it,” Brauer said.

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