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Nissan Reveals First Glimpse of Redesigned 2021 Frontier Pickup

The midsize Frontier truck is among the oldest vehicles on sale. That's about to change.

  1. Nissan has released a video showing several new models that are set to debut soon, including this completely redesigned 2021 Frontier mid-size pickup.
  2. The video also included the highly anticipated new Z sports car.
  3. The new truck, which will have the 3.8-liter V-6 that was new for 2020, is expected sometime next year as a 2021 model.

Nissan dropped quite the surprise, showing off nearly its entire portfolio of soon-to-be-updated or outright redesigned models in a video that briefly showcased each vehicle beneath the first letter of its respective name. This teaser of Nissans to come applies to the automaker's global product line, so there are a few appearances here of stuff America likely won't get, including the Terra SUV and the Navara pickup. Easily the most consequential upcoming Nissan in the video (at least, next to the hot-lookin' Z sports car) is the Navara's American cousin: The 2021 Frontier.

While the new Z likely will draw the most attention and headlines, the next-generation Frontier is far more likely to help Nissan pay its bills. Today's Frontier is a long-serving workhorse, with—probably—long-paid-off tooling, as well as research and development costs, that continues to sell surprisingly well despite its age. (Introduced for 2004, the Nissan truck has been on sale in pretty much the same form for more than 16 years!) Value pricing helped its popularity through the years, with the Frontier, until recently, anchoring the low-priced end of the midsize pickup segment, undercutting key rivals such as the newer Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and Toyota Tacoma.

We doubt the new truck will be so cheap, particularly given Nissan's move to axe the base four-cylinder engine from the 2020 Frontier, effectively raising the price of the current pickup in its final year. Part of the reason for the big price jump and the engine shuffling is that, curiously, Nissan rolled out the upcoming 2021 Frontier's V-6 engine early, installing it in 2020 models as a sort of test run ahead of the new truck's launch. Like the 2020 model, expect the six-cylinder 2021 Frontier to wear a sticker price that puts it right in the thick of the midsize truck segment.

It also appears as though the 2020 Nissan Frontier's life will be quite short. Reports indicate the redesigned 2021 model could reach dealerships as soon as September, though we should point out that those timelines were before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. We expect that plant shutdowns and other disruptions to Nissan's normal flows of business for the new Fronty's launch to be pushed back somewhat. Look for the new truck to boast all-new styling inside and out, and a new structure, as well. In the teaser video, we can just make out the Frontier's shape, which remains traditionally blocky and rectilinear, as well as its new cat-eye LED headlight accents.

Nissan isn’t ready to discuss the 2021 Frontier just yet, but the brand has set pricing for the 2020 version of its aging midsize pickup.

If you’re cool with two-wheel drive and a King Cab model, you can get in the door for $26,790.

If you need four doors and four-wheel drive, an S Crew Cab will cost $31,290. Destination, not included in those prices, is $1,095. The 2020 Frontier will reach dealerships in July of this year and remain available until whenever Nissan launches the fully redesigned 2021 truck. Pandemic uncertainty could factor into that.

Indeed, thanks to pandemic-related production delays, the 2020 models were delayed. The trucks would’ve likely been in dealers by now otherwise.

Perhaps the biggest news here is the appearance of a new engine as well as the addition of four forward gears – the truck’s only available transmission is a nine-speed automatic, and all trims will get the 310-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6.

Price increases are $2,000 on average across the board, according to Nissan.

So yes, #savethemanuals types, the three-pedal option is gone. So is the four-cylinder option and Desert Runner and SL trims. Also gone: manual door locks and windows.

Not here yet: automatic stop/start, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

Horsepower jumps by 49 ponies over the last (4.0-liter) V6, and fuel economy is up 2 mpg combined over the previous V6 (when paired to the now defunct five-speed auto). That’s 19 mpg combined for four-wheel drive models and 20 mpg combined for two-wheel drive models now. The full stat is this: 18/24/20 for two-wheel drive and 17/23/19 for four-wheel drive.

Since truck buyers love to brag about their rigs, here are two key numbers: Max tow capacity is 6,640 and payload is 1,460 pounds.

Here’s the price list in full: S King Cab 4×2, $26,790; SV King Cab 4×2, $27,670; S King Cab 4×4, $29,680; SV King Cab 4×4, $30,560; S Crew Cab 4×2, $27,900; SV Crew Cab 4×2 SWB, $28,800; SV Crew Cab 4×2 LWB, $31,410; S Crew Cab 4×4, $31,290; SV Crew Cab 4×4 SWB, $31,990; SV Crew Cab 4×4 LWB, $32,410; Pro-4X Crew Cab 4×4, $37,490. Again, none of these include destination fees.

An available Special Edition package adds a chrome grill, a trip computer, a body-color rear bumper, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, while an available Midnight Edition offers “special black exterior treatments” and 18-inch gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels.

Push-button start is now standard, along with a leather shift knob.

Don’t expect to be able to visually identify a 2020 Frontier at a glance – you’ll need to pop the hood to know it’s new. Styling doesn’t change, inside or out.