A cut-out of the engine bays shows the new 3.8-liter V6 powering every 2020 Frontier.
We haven’t seen a new Nissan Frontier pickup truck since 2005 and that’s an awfully long time between new models. In the interim, Nissan rolled out new and updated versions of its full-size Titan pickup truck and introduced a special Titan XD version, which fills the white space between light- and heavy-duty models.
We’re expecting a new Frontier in 2021 (as a 2022 model), but in the meantime Nissan has given us an important hint of what’s coming our way, namely an all-new V6 engine paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Doubtlessly, Nissan knows that a new Frontier is overdue, so for 2020 it introduced a new powertrain for the current-generation Frontier, one that it says will appear in the next-generation model.
Here are the highlights of the 2020 Nissan Frontier:
New engine. The heart of the 2020 Frontier is an all-new 3.8-liter V6 engine. This one makes 310 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque, up from the 261 horsepower and 281 pound-feet of torque delivered in the previous 4.0-liter engine. Nissan says the new engine has best-in-class performance (we confirmed this), improved fuel efficiency, and a better emissions record. The front-wheel-drive version earns 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway for a combined 20 mpg. This beats the 16/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined rating of the outgoing engine.
New transmission. Nissan’s powertrain offering is all-new with a 9-speed automatic transmission replacing the previous 5-speed automatic. It is similar to the one introduced in the Titan. Also gone is the 6-speed manual gearbox and the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. We think the next-generation model will also offer a four-cylinder engine, but you won’t find one or a manual transmission with the current model.
Five trims for the choosing. Nissan offers the 2020 Frontier in five trims: Frontier King Cab S and SV (4×2 and 4×4), Frontier Crew Cab S, SV (4×2 and 4×4), and PRO-4X (4×4 only). The 2020 Frontier is available in King Cab and Crew Cab body configurations, and in SV Crew Cab Long Bed. It has a standard 59.5-inch Crew Cab bed or an optional 73.3 SV Crew Cab Long Bed. You’ll also find a standard 73.3-inch King Cab bed.
Three package choices. As expected, Nissan offers multiple package choices available with the 2020 Frontier. They are: Value Truck Package( King Cab SV, Crew Cab SV), Midnight Edition Package (Crew Cab SV SWB), Special Edition Package (Crew Cab SV SWB). Among the features of the Value Truck Package are fog lights, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a spray-in bedliner, and a sliding truck bed extender.
We’re awaiting driver-assist features. Buyers desiring such driver-assist features as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. These items will most likely appear in the 2021 Frontier. What you will find is the usual suite of airbags and the required rear-view monitor.
Light on the standard creature features. It took all these years, but power door locks and power windows are finally standard with the 2020 Frontier. Push-button start, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and tilt steering wheel control are also now standard items. Other creature features of note include air conditioning, a fold-up rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, and Siri Eyes Free. Included among the upgrades are dual-zone climate control, leather seats, navigation, a Rockford-Fosgate audio system, and satellite radio.
Out with the old, in with the new.
The 2020 Frontier is an old truck, no doubt about it. Competing models such as the Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Gladiator, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, and the Chevrolet Colorado, have more to offer. What they can’t match is the Nissan’s low starting price, which comes in around $20,000.
We think most buyers will look closely at the four-wheel-drive Frontier SV and admire its circa $30,000 price tag. As for the top-of-the-line PRO-4X, it pulls out all the off-road stops and retails for about $40,000.
2020 Nissan Frontier Specifications
|Segment||Midsize Pickup Truck|
|Standard Engine||3.8-liter, V6|
|Horsepower||310 @ 6,400 rpm|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||281 @ 4,400 rpm|
|Seating||Up to 5|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||From 4,264 to 4,696|
|Headroom (f,r…inches)||39.9, 38.6|
|Legroom (f,r…inches)||42.4, 33.6|
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||58.3, 58.3|
|Hip room (f,r…inches)||55.6, 58.0|
|Storage (cubic feet)||27.1 (std.); 33.5 (long)|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||NR|
|Payload (pounds)||1,020 to 1,460|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||21.1|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||18/24/20|
|Manufacturing Plant||Canton, Miss.|
Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.
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Photos copyright Nissan North America. All rights reserved.