Nissan Frontier Has a Future In America, Next Model Will Be a “Real Truck”

After years of stagnation, the mid-size truck market has sprung back to life thanks to the introduction of newer models such as the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Toyota Tacoma.

This hasn’t gone on unnoticed by other automakers as Ford recently announced plans to launch a new Ranger in 2019.

The plethora of new and redesigned models is missing one key player, namely the Nissan Frontier which has largely been untouched since it was introduced over a decade ago. That could soon be changing as Nissan North America’s senior vice president of Sales, Marketing, and Operations has confirmed the “Frontier has a future.”

Speaking to Autoguide at the New York Auto Show, Christian Meunier suggested the next-generation Frontier wouldn’t simply be a renamed version of the Navara offered overseas, as it’s a bit of a lifestyle vehicle “like a Honda Ridgeline” and Nissan North America likes “real trucks.”

There’s no timetable for when a redesigned model could arrive, but Meunier seemed to suggest the company’s recent acquisition of Mitsubishi could play a role in shaping the next Frontier. Both companies have extensive experience developing pickups, so a collaboration could be a win-win.

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  • vwup

    Tell me how the current Navara is like a Honda Ridgeline, please. Navara has a ladder-frame chassis and can tow 3500kg, the Ridgeline is a Pilot with the boot sawn off!

  • BqWsRe

    So they are admitting the last one was a failure?

    • Jason Miller

      Uh, no? All I see is him saying the current Navara is not manly enough for the USA. lol

  • Tumbi Mtika


  • Imjus Sayin

    What exactly defines a “Real Truck” ? There are “Light duty” , ” Heavy duty”, and “Super duty” classifications as well as ” Lifestyle “, and ” Activity “.
    Honda Ridgeline would be a Light Duty Lifestyle truck compared to any domestic truck with a 3500 Super duty moniker. Two different market buyers. Mercedes is building their ” Truck ” based on the Frontier / Navara platform. Do you think you will see many Mercedes trucks at a Lowes or Home Depot hauling cement and concrete blocks? Nissan marketing should just match the features that Ford, GM, and Dodge offer in their truck, and add features they don’t have at a comparable price. It’s not rocket science.

  • Socarboy

    I was beginning to think that Nissan was going to let the Frontier wither away on the vine

  • Dennis Scipio

    Please Nissan, replace the old vehicle already.

  • Ilbirs

    Remember that the new-generation Frontier is already being built in Mexico and it’s being exported to Brazil and Argentina while the Argentinian plant that will make it, the Alaskan and the X-Class isn’t ready. In theory it could be sold in U.S. as Mexico isn’t affected by the “chicken tax”, but it has the problem of being too rugged for what Americans expect for a compact truck.
    Trying to decode what Christian Meunier said about the next U.S.-spec model, we can tell the following:

    “The Frontier has a future. Trucks are in our DNA, we’ve been doing them for a long time”

    People at Nissan American headquarters know that a compact truck is essential for the brand identity there and the uninterrupted presence of the brand in this segment is something that worth dies for.

    “We’ll do something better than the Navara”

    When he says “Navara” instead of “Frontier”, he wants to be as clear as possible about what kind of spec is being talked about, because this vehicle is also called Frontier ins some markets as it happened to the previous-gen that is still being built in U.S.. This “better” can be translated in a V6 engine, a more luxurious interior and the crew cab and long bed spec so particular to the land of the free.

    “like a Honda Ridgeline”

    What he said here when defining the Navara (AKA new Frontier) as this is because the brand has done some efforts to make it rides a bit more like a passenger car without losing its capabilities. Instead of leaf springs, the current global-spec has a five-link live axle with coil springs:

    All of this is done without sacrificing payload, as compact trucks play a role outside U.S. that is too close of what Americans would do by using heavy-duty trucks.

    “We like real trucks”

    By “real trucks” this can be understood as BOF trucks. It’s a subtle form to tell that Nissan considers the Ridgeline nothing more than a Pilot with a bed. Nissan knows that unit body isn’t a problem in compact trucks if done properly (see Fiat Toro in Brazil) but knows that in the North American context it’s still associated to something not as tough as a BOF one.
    For now we can only speculate about how it’ll be an American Frontier. As said before, a V6 can be taken as sure, as also the crew-cab and long bed version and some decrease in the payload to not put the Titan in risk. As this article is illustrated by the Diesel Runner concept, maybe a 2.8 liter Cummins engine can be expected as a production version, mirroring the propulsion options of the Colorado while not needing to bring an engine that is not produced there.

    • Kris

      Now that is a good change. I’m tired of the 1970s-style leaf spring side-hopping suspension in my Frontier when going over bumps in a turn.

      As for why the Navara isn’t in the US, I wonder if it has to do with safety problems as far as the NHTSA is concerned (especially rollover safety, as the XTerra was discontinued for not being able to meet present standards), and possibly a lack of engines powerful enough to appeal to the US market. The current-generation Nissan Frontier’s VQ40DE engine and the matching transmission is a really fast and fun truck to drive that still sounds and rides like a comfortable large car. It has a better ride than my Lincoln Navigator did.

      By the way, last I checked, your USA market Frontier was built in Tennessee or Mississippi but very not likely in Mexico.

  • Mark S

    It should have been here yesterday! The Navara would be fine.

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