This could change the ’bang-for-the-buck work truck’ image of the Frontier

Nissan recently updated the age-old Frontier. The company tweaked the 2020 model inside out and even plonked a new mill under the hood. However, it still feels dated and all eyes are set on the next-gen model that’s due next year. There’s not a lot of information out there about it except for the fact that it is going to get mighty expensive. However, according to a YouTube channel called Pickup Truck Plus SUV Talk, the Japanese automaker might be working on a Frontier NISMO. If this scoop is true, then Nissan might fill the void created by Ford for not offering the Ranger Raptor here in the States.

Say No ‘MO’

The host of the channel along with Nissan Nation Productions spoke about a picture that showcases the Frontier in a rather different avatar. The truck wears a blue exterior shade and wide black fender flares. There are orange accents on the black elements as well. The main talking point, however, is the teeny bit of the grille that’s seen here. The black grille features the letters ‘MO’ at the end. This could only mean NISMO since we can’t connect any other logical dots here.

Is Nissan Coming Up With A Frontier NISMO?
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There is no credible source to this photo yet, but it is said that it was clicked during a presentation to dealers last March. We are assuming he meant March 2020 since the channel replied to one of the comments saying “this was shown to dealers as the next-gen Frontier.”

What Is NISMO?

Sorry Folks - The 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo Is Here and It's Pretty Much the Same
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For the uninitiated, NISMO is Nissan’s in-house racing and performance division. It loosely stands for Nissan Motorsport and was started back in 1984. NISMO has competed in JSPC, JTCC, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Currently, NISMO is active in the Super GT, the Blancpain GT Series, and Formula E. Nissan has introduced the badge on mainstream cars as well. On some models, it is sold as a trim, and on some as a package. Currently, the NISMO brand is present on the GT-R, 370Z, Juke, March, Note, Patrol, Sentra, and Serena.

NISMO And The Frontier Already Have A History

2006 Nissan NISMO Frontier
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The NISMO moniker isn’t new for the Frontier. Interestingly, it was the first vehicle to wear the badge in the U.S. The company had introduced a NISMO package for the affordable truck many years back for the second-gen Frontier as an off-roader. It was mated to the V-6 engine on offer back then. Even though NISMO is generally resonated with fast vehicles, on the Frontier it was all about off-roading prowess. The NISMO Frontier was priced at roughly $7,000 more than the standard Frontier. The off-roading truck came with stuff like:

  • NISMO-tuned Bilstein Performance Shocks
  • Limited-slip Differentials At Front And Rear
  • Electronic Locking Rear Differential
  • 16-inch Aluminum Wheels
  • 265/75 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A Off-Road Tires
  • Skid Plates

What Is The Biggest Change In The 2020 Frontier?

Nissan's Hoping That a New Engine Will Hold the Frontier Over Until the Next-Gen Model Arrives in 2021 Exterior
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The next-gen Frontier is long due. Nissan is running the same model ever since its inception. The 2020 model, however, brought in a few changes. Nissan revealed it at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, but it still wears the same body design. However, the 2020 Frontier features an all-new 3.8-liter, V-6 engine that makes 310 horses and 281 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. The automaker replaced the aging 4.0-liter, V-6 with this mill.

What Do We Know About The Next-Gen Frontier So Far

Nissan's Hoping That a New Engine Will Hold the Frontier Over Until the Next-Gen Model Arrives in 2021 Exterior
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Last month, CarsDirect reported that fleet owners are being informed about the 2021 Frontier’s prices. The entry-level S King Cab will wear a sticker of $26,280, excluding the destination. That’s a premium of $7,644 over the price of the cheapest 2019 Frontier, which starts at $18,636. Nissan, however, has not mentioned anything about the prices or the truck itself.

The 2021 Nissan Frontier will share a few components with its predecessor. This squashes the rumors that the Frontier will be more of a rebadged Nissan Navara in a different skin from the international markets. The Frontier is known to be one of the cheapest trucks you can buy today. However, at this price point, it loses that unique selling point and falls directly in line with the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and the Toyota Tacoma.

Nissan's Hoping That a New Engine Will Hold the Frontier Over Until the Next-Gen Model Arrives in 2021 Drivetrain
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It must be noted that all these trucks still come with a four-cylinder mill except for the Frontier which will only have the V-6. Perhaps, in that sense, the Frontier has an edge over its new rivals. Nissan will be dropping the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder mill used to generate just 152 ponies and 171 pound-feet of torque. The five-speed manual and automatic gearboxes and already retired with the 2020 model and the nine-speed automatic replaced them.

Final Thoughts

Nissan's Hoping That a New Engine Will Hold the Frontier Over Until the Next-Gen Model Arrives in 2021 Exterior
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It’ll be interesting to see how Nissan plays this because the Frontier is one of the most-affordable pickup trucks currently and is not seen as a sporty truck whatsoever. Introducing a NISMO badge on this truck will be a bold move. But, it shouldn’t be very surprising because Nissan seems to be making a lot of changes to the next-gen Frontier. The automaker is also planning to up the ante and pit it up against the likes of Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Tacoma.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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