2020 Nissan Frontier review: Past meets future

You can find almost nothing new to see listed here, folks. Shift along be sure to, transfer along.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Do you think in time journey? If not, a rapid drive of the 2020 Nissan Frontier will encourage you this theoretical phenomenon is serious. For greater or, nicely, typically even worse, this midsize pickup is a blast from the early-2000s past, an unbelievable relic the Japanese automaker has remaining typically untouched for a ten years and a half. 


  • Powerful, refined engine
  • A strong, tested truck
  • Astute transmission

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  • Delivers essentially zero driver aids
  • Could be more effective
  • Older than the hills
  • Not terrific to drive

Through this-technology Frontier’s time on earth, the Dodge Dakota drove off into the sunset, Chevrolet overhauled its Colorado, two generations of the Honda Ridgeline hit the sector, plus Ford’s compact Ranger pickup was killed off and then subsequently resurrected. Yeah, a lot has happened due to the fact 2005.

Nissan is keenly mindful of this rig’s age and how uncompetitive it is really come to be. Remedying the scenario, a thoroughly redesigned Frontier is on the way, established to arrive for the 2021 model yr. That pickup need to deal with the recent truck’s shortcomings, providing buyers more know-how, increased refinement and enhanced general performance courtesy of a thoroughly new powertrain. 

The long term is now!

Nissan is supplying us an chance to expertise that up coming-technology Frontier ahead of it is really even been unveiled. Curiously, Nissan released the 2021 model’s upgraded powertrain in the outgoing truck. Generally, the engine and transmission were being ready to go, so why not ship them early? Usually, automakers introduce new powertrains in thoroughly redesigned autos, but often these sine waves are out of sync. And which is what happened listed here. 

Nestled beneath my crew-taxi Professional-4X exam truck’s unusually major hood is a three.8-liter V6 bolted to a 9-velocity computerized transmission. This engine pulls double duty, changing the 4.-liter V6 as nicely as the base 2.five-liter 4-pot engine which is presented in the recent-technology Frontier. About 93% new compared to the outgoing six-shooter, this engine provides a more-than-respectable 310 horsepower at six,400 rpm and 281 pound-toes of torque at 4,400 rpm. These figures assess favorably to what the Chevy Colorado’s V6 presents, but it is really bought forty more horses than the Ranger’s turbo-4, while that Ford does have 29 extra lb-ft of twist, an crucial benefit for a truck.

2020 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X

The Frontier’s long term is proudly shown beneath its hood.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The Frontier’s new engine is exceptional — in point, it may perhaps be my beloved powertrain in the midsize-pickup phase. It looks smoother and more responsive than the Colorado’s V6 and it appears way greater than the Ranger’s boosted 4. At idle, it does truly feel somewhat choppy, but matters easy right out when you crack the throttle. Typical of obviously aspirated V6s of this displacement, it arrives alive larger in the rev assortment, seriously placing its shoulder to the load from about 4,000 rpm on up, while this is not to say the engine is peaky. It pulls fairly nicely decreased down the tachometer, aided by that prudent gearbox. 

If the Frontier’s new transmission appears acquainted, it need to. Generally, it is really the identical one particular made use of in its bigger brother, the whole-dimension, V8-run Nissan Titan. Tuning tweaks are the only serious variations: It can be been tailor-made to a V6 engine and a lighter car.

That 9-velocity transmission is a remarkable improvement in excess of the outgoing five-velocity computerized. Not only does it strengthen drivability — shifts are easy and well timed the two up and down — but it will make the Frontier more effective and fleeter than ahead of. In the -to-60-mph sprint, it is really all-around 7% more quickly, a welcome improvement, plus, when similarly equipped, gasoline financial system is greater than what the outgoing 4-cylinder presents. Equipped with 4-wheel-drive, assume seventeen miles per gallon metropolis and 23 mpg highway. Mixed, the 4wd Frontier is rated at 19 mpg, while I have been averaging all-around 21 in combined use, which contains a lot of two-lane driving.

The Frontier’s improved performance is welcome, but it is really nonetheless not terrific. For instance, a 4-wheel-drive F-a hundred and fifty with the available 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 has more electricity and way more torque, but it nonetheless manages to common a claimed twenty mpg, at the very least according to the EPA. Hopefully the new 2021 Frontier is a lot more inexpensive, but at the very least this one particular fortunately operates on typical-grade gasoline.

2020 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X

This is the truck’s business conclusion, and the Frontier’s mattress is fairly adaptable.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The negative previous times

As for the relaxation of this truck, it could have been ripped from the internet pages of H.G. Wells’ The Time Device. Like the eponymous system in that brief story, it can transportation you by means of the ages — nicely, seriously just again to the times ahead of superior driver-aid know-how was even a point and smartphones were on everyone’s particular person, but you get my level.

The Frontier’s undamped tailgate is unexpectedly weighty, but major by modern benchmarks exactly where you can get electricity lifting and folding tailgates that complete more methods than a trained border collie. It drops with a thud and takes true work to near. This truck’s interior looks and feels previous, with challenging plastic just about everywhere and a good deal of options that are evident afterthoughts, like the placement of the starter button. It can be relegated to the console in advance of the shifter, a most peculiar location. The aux jack and USB port reside in a modest pod on the passenger’s facet of the heart stack, a further bizarre placement. And then you will find the infotainment technique.

My off-highway-focused Professional-4X tester arrives regular with a Nissan Hook up multimedia resolution, one particular with a laughably modest, five.8-inch touchscreen. A navigation technique is integrated but the interface so torturous you would not even want to use it. A 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio technique is ready and eager, while not necessarily equipped to drown out this truck’s elevated interior noise at highway speeds. 

Crafted for really serious path-bashing, Professional-4X products are fitted with goodies like skid plates, Bilstein shock absorbers and a locking rear differential. Hankook all-terrain tires wrapped all-around fashionable 16-inch alloy wheels deliver the grip, the two on-highway and off. With all that hardware plus a cumbersome roof rack on prime, this truck’s relatively noisy cabin is understandable.

2020 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X

If you like challenging plastic and a dearth of modern-day conveniences, you’ll appreciate the Nissan Frontier.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The lack of specific up-and-down windows all all-around is a further reminder of the Frontier’s age. So is the point that practically no modern-day options are presented. Does it have adaptive cruise handle? Nope. How about blind-location checking? Sorry, Charlie. Lane-trying to keep assist? What’s that?

“Whoa, this is major,” claimed key character Marty McFly in Back to the Foreseeable future when reacting to what Doc Brown claimed about his mother’s amorous infatuation, while he could have just as quickly been describing the Frontier’s steering. It can be major at parking-lot speeds, major on the highway and major just about everywhere in between, which provides the truck a ponderous truly feel, uncommon for a little something in the midsize phase. Rival vans truly feel significantly nimbler. 

The Frontier’s trip excellent is a little something of a secret. On highway, it someway manages to be the two rigid-legged and jiggly, like it is really concurrently as well firm and as well gentle. You can find no scarcity of human body roll, either, when tackling corners. 

Time will convey to

The Nissan Frontier is simple to dump on. It can be previous, lacks typically available options and its driving dynamics are crude at finest. Even now, in a bizarre way, I find the dearth of know-how kind of refreshing. You can find no finding out curve listed here, no have to have to assume about how stuff will work. Driving it only involves muscle memory.

Strangely, pricing for the 2020 Frontier has not been produced yet it is really scheduled to be introduced later in the spring. But dependent on the 2019 model, I estimate my crew taxi Professional-4X tester most likely checks out for all-around $35,000 give or consider a few grand. If you’re critically thinking of a new Frontier, you most likely do not treatment about how ancient it is. Even now, if your coronary heart is established on a Nissan, you would be prudent keeping off until the 2021 model comes. Its new powertrain is definitely dynamite, which bodes nicely for the relaxation of the truck, while only time will convey to how great it seriously is.

Maria J. Danford

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