Vehicles | February 6, 2021 7:00 am

After 17 Years, Nissan Finally Gave in and Redesigned Its Frontier Pickup

The paragon of affordability is bulking up to fit the times

new Nissan Frontier pickup
Can Nissan's new Frontier convince you to buy a mid-size pickup?
Nissan

The Nissan Frontier has always been an economy play. If you want a brand new pickup truck but don’t want to pay through the nose, and if you don’t need the capability that a full-size truck like an F-150 or Ram 1500 provides but still want a V6 engine, the mid-size Frontier has been there for you. In the last decade, it has consistently led the list of cheapest pickups on the market. 

However, for more than a decade (17 years, in fact), the Frontier never got a full redesign to keep up with its competitors. It’s been tweaked, sure, but the model that you can go out and buy at a Nissan dealership today is the same basic vehicle that was introduced back in the 2005 model year. But the automaker can no longer coast on its economical chops, so this week, they introduced the all-new 2022 Frontier.

Here’s what some of the automotive outlets had to say about the new look: Car and Driver said the truck “looks appropriately butch with chunky proportions, blistered fenders, and darkened trim”; Autoblog went a step further: “Any indication of friendliness is gone, and that was the intention”; and CNET’s Roadshow wrote, “Nissan looked to its Hardbody truck of the 1980s to give the new Frontier some personality and, we’ve got to say, it totally works.”

Want proof of the transformation? Take a look:

2020 Nissan Frontier Pickup Truck2022 Nissan Frontier Pickup Truck

As Roadshow cited, Nissan is attributing some of the Frontier’s new styling to its past, but from the tailgate to the headlights, it’s clear that the automaker wants to fit in with the imposing, aggressive trucks that have taken over the market. The model Nissan is displaying for the announcement is the Pro-4X — a higher-end, off-road-ready version of the new Frontier — and it features the nameplate stamped across the back, just like you’ll find on Ford Raptors, while the front end looks more like a Transformer than a family-friendly hauler.

You’ll find other design changes throughout, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find similar upgrades in that actual engineering. As Car and Driver notes, the truck still sits on the same frame as the 2005 model, and the engine is the same 3.8-liter V6 that was fitted into the 2020 model. That’s not necessarily bad, but it just shows how committed Nissan is to only changing what is necessary in order to keep the price down.

Speaking of, the automaker hasn’t announced the price range for the new model, but when it goes on sale this summer it’s unlikely the starting cost will stay under $30K. We’d be glad to be proven wrong, though.

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