Nissan is finally making much-needed amendments to the workhorse after 15 years

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Nissan made a lot of changes to the last Frontier update, but there’s no denying that it’s still a 15-year old truck. The company recently teased the 2022 Frontier and it is expected to be the biggest change since its inception, especially in terms of aesthetics. The truck has proven its might in the past, but the styling is clearly dated and is probably the only reason for the Frontier’s dwindling sales. The 2022 Frontier is all set to debut on February 4, 2021, and here’s what you can expect from it.

Update 2-4-2020 The new, 2022 Nissan Frontier has finally be revealed. We’ll be updating this review in the coming days, but until then, you can check it out and learn all you need to know in our feature debut article!

You can expect the new styling cues to make it look like a baby Titan than a reinvigorated Frontier. The 2021 Navara that was introduced in Europe and South America in November 2020 gave us a preview of what to expect from the 2022 Frontier. The new Frontier will feature new LED headlights and C-shaped DRLs up front, along with a new, wider grille. If you go by the trends in the truck segment, expect it to feature a different grille design on every trim, one of them being an interlocking design as seen on the Navara.

New wheel design, of course, is something that could distinguish the truck’s side profile from the current model. The rugged PRO-4X model could get all the more off-road friendly to take on the likes of the Jeep Gladiator. As is the norm, it will be devoid of chrome elements and will instead receive a black treatment on the grille, door handles, roof racks, etc. Unlike the 16-inch wheels on the present model, the PRO-4X could now come with 17-inch wheels as standard that are wrapped in all-terrain tires. Electronic locking rear differential, two-speed transfer case, Dana 44 rear axle, and Bilstein off-road performance shocks are a few features that could be carried as it is onto the 2022 model.

2022 Nissan Frontier
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Nissan offers something known as Utili-Channel Track System on the current Frontier PRO-4X. It is basically a cargo management system that comes with four channels running the length of the bed and one running the width and it helps secure the cargo. Four heavy-duty cleats are also present that can slide along these channels. Nissan could offer this across the trims in the upcoming Frontier as it will be very helpful for folks using it as a work truck.

Finally, new exterior shades could be introduced. Currently, Nissan offers six shades on the Frontier. I have a hunch that orange will be a new shade offered here.

New Tech Features Inside The Cabin

Nissan's Hoping That a New Engine Will Hold the Frontier Over Until the Next-Gen Model Arrives in 2021 Interior
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Until now, the Frontier boasted of a straight-forward, utilitarian cabin that came with basic essentials and a little more. But, the upcoming Frontier could be positioned as a slightly premium offering, which means Nissan will have to add a lot of ‘feel-good’ factors here. A redesigned cabin with many more storage spaces will be the highlight.

For now, the Frontier features a seven-inch touchscreen system on all the trims except for the PRO-4X which features a 5.8-inch touchscreen.

It would make sense to offer an eight-inch touchscreen system on the trims as standard, and perhaps a nine-inch touchscreen on the top trim.

Expect The Same Engine Option To Be Retained

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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Nissan ditched the meek 2.5-liter, four-cylinder mill that used to generate just 152 ponies and 171 pound-feet of torque, as well as the aging 4.0-liter V-6 that made 261 horses and 281 pound-feet of torque. Instead, it introduced a new, more efficient 3.8-liter, V-6 mill that churns out 310 ponies and 281 pound-feet of twist. We don’t see any reason for Nissan to develop another new mill or make changes to this fairly new 3.8-liter V-6.

2020 Nissan Frontier specifications
Engine 3.8-liter V6 engine
Horsepower 310 HP
Torque 281 LB-FT
Transmission 9-speed automatic transmission

Nissan had reported that the new V-6 features 93-percent new or redesigned parts, thus having barely any characteristics of the old engines. It includes a direct injection gasoline system, cylinder heads with integrated exhaust manifolds, a variable displacement oil pump, variable timing control, and a variable tumble control valve. But, despite all this and an increase of 40 horses over the previous V-6 didn’t translate to a different experience in the real world, so if the Japanese automaker is being generous, an increase in the torque figures is a possibility (although highly unlikely).

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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What made the difference in the ride quality, however, was the new nine-speed automatic gearbox. This, too, was a new introduction that replaced the five-speed manual and the five-speed automatic gearboxes. For you curious, nerdy folks, the new transmission features an expanded lockup area, a new high-response electro-hydraulic system, a long input shaft, and a 99-percent larger gear range that makes all the difference. It also comes with a centrifugal pendulum absorber that reduces vibrations and seamless gearshifts.

Given the number of changes that Nissan introduced under the hood in the present model, we don’t see any logical reason for it to be tweaked majorly. Nissan could work on strengthening its core to increase the towing and payload capacities, though. Its primary competitors, the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevy Colorado, offer better ratings in this department and Nissan would want to make use of this opportunity to improve the upcoming Frontier’s capacities. Perhaps, even introduce stuff like a new steering rack to improve the handling all the more.

Improved Safety Systems

2022 Nissan Frontier
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Nissan could introduce some more safety systems on the 2022 Frontier. We could see the Intelligent Forward Collision Warning feature debut, which essentially monitors the second vehicle ahead as well as the vehicle directly in front to reduce the risk of multi-car accidents. Then there’s the Intelligent Around View Monitor which debuted on the Navara as well. It makes use of four cameras to help with parking, especially with a trailer hitched to the truck. An off-road monitor that checks surrounding obstacles at low speeds when in four-wheel-drive mode could be a PRO-4X-exclusive feature.

It Will Get Marginally Pricier

2022 Nissan Frontier
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In 2019, the Frontier could be had for less than $20,000 with the four-cylinder mill. But, things changed in the latest update and the truck now starts at $27,090 and tops out at $37,790. Expect a premium for the 2022 model, especially on the PRO-4X and the top trims. As long as the price increase is justified, we don’t see a reason for the Frontier’s sales figures to be impacted.

Sidd Dhimaan
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 full bio
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