After more than 15 years on the market with only minor styling tweaks, the Nissan Frontier finally receives a notable revision for the 2021 model year. Despite its age, the midsize pickup’s mechanical bits are due to carry over largely unchanged. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Frontier’s frame is a stout piece that affords the Nissan truck class-competitive towing and payload figures . The 2021 Frontier’s new exterior and interior designs ought to fix the current model’s most egregious shortcomings. Adopting modern aesthetics and proven underpinnings is also the same basic strategy adopted by arch-competitor Toyota for its heavy redesign of the Tacoma for the 2016 model year.
2021 Nissan Frontier: Lookin’ Truckin’ Good
Look for the new Frontier to adopt blockier bodywork compared to today’s truck, as evidenced by a teaser Nissan released of the truck’s silhouette. Additionally, the new Nissan pickup will sport a front end that incorporates the latest brand’s design cues, such as a more prominent iteration of its “V-Motion” grille. Meanwhile, the current Frontier’s bulging fenders are expected to give way to squarer, less bulky-looking pieces.
The 2021 Frontier insides are expected to crib from the style of the larger Nissan Titan. This includes a dashboard with a large touchscreen at the center—likely the same 8.0- and 9.0-inch units offered in the Titan. Regardless, we anticipate the new Frontier’s infotainment display will easily overshadow the current truck’s available 5.8-inch unit.
2021 Nissan Frontier: An Old Frontier Underhood
Old is a relative term, here. Although the 2021 Frontier will carry over the outgoing truck’s 3.8-liter V-6 and nine-speed automatic transmission, the “old” powertrain is a relatively recent addition to Nissan’s midsize pickup, having been added to the model for 2020. (The 310-hp engine replaced both the available 261-hp 4.0-liter V-6 and the standard 152-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. )
That said, it wouldn’t surprise us if Nissan brings a four-cylinder engine back to the Frontier’s engine bay—likely the 181-hp 2.5-liter unit in the 2021 Rogue. A more torque-rich four-cylinder may also enter the Frontier fold, be it in the form of the Altima’s available 236-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a turbo-diesel engine (as previewed by 2014’s Diesel Runner concept). The latter option would allow the Frontier to better compete with the turbo-diesels offered in the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Jeep Gladiator.
Nevertheless, look for the Frontier to once again offer both two- and four-wheel drive, as well as a more off-road-oriented Pro-4X trim with a locking rear differential, extra underbody protection, and Bilstein shocks.
2021 Nissan Frontier: Truck Bucks
In spite of its revised styling, the 2021 Frontier’s starting price should stay relatively close to that of the 2020 model’s $27,885 cost of entry. That sum ought to net buyers a rear-drive double cab (King Cab in Nissan-speak), with the larger four-door crew cab body style running about $1,000 more. Like the 2020 Nissan Frontier, which went on sale in the spring, look for the 2021 Frontier to arrive a few months into the 2021 calendar year.