Nissan Frontier 2021 – Review, Specs, Photos

The Nissan Frontier underwent a pretty huge change for 2021, though you’ll never spot it from the curb. The sheetmetal is the same as it’s been since the model-year 2009 facelift, and much of the Frontier remains unchanged since the truck debuted for 2005. Everything big here is happening under the hood. For 2021, Nissan did away with both the 152-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the 261-hp 4.0-liter V-6, and replaced them with one powertrain choice: an all-new 3.8-liter V-6 cranking out 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic is the only transmission available, and the truck comes in 2WD or 4WD. That’s a pretty major change in a truck that’s seen precious few updates over its long tenure. The result is a pickup that feels strangely removed from time. All the necessary information about – 2021 Nissan Frontier read on.

New Nissan Frontier 2021

The nine-speed auto helps a lot. Driven gently, it obsesses over keeping the revs low, but it’s happy to shed gears with even a light prod at the throttle. When this Frontier was penned, 310 hp would have seemed huge in a midsize truck like this. With your foot to the floor, it still does. The Pro-4X off-road suspension was a little busy on rough roads, but overall, the Frontier was a good-handling and relatively comfortable ride. The new drivetrain really wakes up this elderly truck. It almost makes it feel like a restomod. Driving a brand-new 2021 Frontier with the new VQ38 engine is like hopping in a brand-new, 15-year-old pickup with a healthy tune. Nissan Frontier 2021 – see interior and exterior photos in the article.

Interior

The 2021 Frontier’s interior design is straight out of 2005, and its short list of options is also outdated. However, the hard-plastic habitat is appropriate for tradesmen and trail raiders. The uninspired switchgear is ugly but effective and provides straightforward operation. Too bad no amount of money will get you a telescoping steering wheel, cooled front seats, wireless charging, or even a heated steering wheel. The Frontier’s crew cab has decent front-passenger space, but even its crew cab’s back seat has limited legroom, which is similar to the cramped Toyota Tacoma. Although its two available cargo beds are smaller than those of its rivals, the pickup has ample interior storage space, and our crew-cab test truck held a respectable 10 carry-ons in the back seat. While its interior storage space isn’t innovative, the Frontier has plenty of places to store loose stuff. There’s a cubby above the center stack and a large tray below it for small items. New Nissan Frontier 2021 – see the photo on this page!

Exterior

Nissan dropped quite the surprise, showing off nearly its entire portfolio of soon-to-be-updated or outright redesigned models in a video that briefly showcased each vehicle beneath the first letter of its respective name. This teaser of Nissans to come applies to the automaker’s global product line, so there are a few appearances here of stuff America likely won’t get, including the Terra SUV and the Navara pickup. Easily the most consequential upcoming Nissan in the video (at least, next to the hot-lookin’ Z sports car) is the Navara’s American cousin: The 2021 Frontier. While the new Z likely will draw the most attention and headlines, the next-generation Frontier is far more likely to help Nissan pay its bills. Today’s Frontier is a long-serving workhorse, with—probably—long-paid-off tooling, as well as research and development costs, that continues to sell surprisingly well despite its age. (Introduced for 2004, the Nissan truck has been on sale in pretty much the same form for more than 16 years!) Value pricing helped its popularity through the years, with the Frontier, until recently, anchoring the low-priced end of the midsize pickup segment, undercutting key rivals such as the newer Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and Toyota Tacoma.

Colors

This redesigned model will share some components with the current version. It also gets the larger Titan’s nine-speed transmission with revised ratios and tuning. A new Nissan Frontier midsize pickup is set to launch for the 2021 model year. The automaker has not formally introduced this truck to the world just yet, but Nissan divulged a few more details on Tuesday, ahead of the official debut. Nissan originally talked about the 2021 Frontier’s development at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this year. The company even unveiled its V6 powertrain, which will be made available in the current-generation 2021 Frontier, a truck that’s so old it practically dates to the Neolithic period.

Fuel economy

Neither the EPA nor Nissan have announced fuel-economy estimates for the Frontier’s new powertrain. When that information comes out, we can see how it stacks up against rivals such as the Ford Ranger and Honda Ridgeline.

Horsepower

The Nissan Nation Podcast says the rendering of the truck we see here is approximately a year old. The finalized version of the truck is likely to look different. However, this prototype image has many unique design elements that can excite any truck enthusiast. The only thing we know for sure is that the next-generation 2021 Frontier will use an engine we recently tested in the 2021 truck. It’s an all-new 3.8-liter gas V6 engine that is currently rated at 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. The new V6 is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Technical specifications

There was also another unofficial report that suggests that the 2021 and the 2021 Nissan Frontier trucks will have an increased price when compared to the outgoing 2021 model. This is primarily due to the base 2.5-liter I4 gas engine and the manual transmission going away. The new 3.8-liter V6 is the only engine option for the 2021 Frontier. We do not know exactly what the all-new 2021 model power-train lineup will entail.

Price

S: $27,885; SV: $28,765; Pro-4X: $38,585; The 2021 Frontier gets a substantial increase in starting price, which has gone up $7500 compared with the previous model year. Nissan attributes the additional cost primarily to the newly standard powertrain. Every Frontier model is still available with either an extended King or four-door Crew Cab that pairs with a five-foot cargo bed—crew-cab models can also be had with a 6.1-foot bed. Since the back seat in the four-door Frontier is such a small space, we’d pick the King Cab. Since every trim level has the new V-6 powertrain, we’d stick with the base model, because it’s such a good value.

Safety

The 2021 Frontier has mediocre crash-test ratings and is completely devoid of the driver-assistance technology that are common on most new vehicles. If it’s any consolation (and it probably isn’t), the Nissan pickup does have a standard backup camera and optional rear parking sensors.

Motors

Every Frontier now features a 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. It pairs exclusively with a nine-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive. We won’t know how much this new powertrain will affect the truck’s performance until we can test one ourselves. However, we don’t expect the Frontier’s ride and handling to change much—if at all. While the last version we tested had a comfortable ride on most roads, its handling felt loose due to lazy steering feedback and excessive body motion. The soft suspension and slow steering work well for trail duty but not during evasive maneuvers. This setup was better at isolating passengers from harsh impacts; however, the roughest roads revealed squeaks and shudders throughout the cabin. Its soft-feeling brake pedal had excessive travel, and hard stops elicited an unsettling nose dive.

Configurations

The Nissan Frontier is a midsize pickup that competes with trucks such as the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma. This current generation truck is quite old — its last full redesign was during the second George W. Bush administration — but it is getting a few updates for 2021. The most important chance is that Nissan has outfitted the 2021 Frontier with a brand-new 3.8-liter V6 engine making 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. This V6 is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that’s similar to the one in its Titan and Titan XD full-size trucks. The combination replaces both previously available powertrains in the Frontier, a weaker 4.0-liter V6 or four-cylinder paired to a choice of two manual transmissions or a five-speed automatic. Think of the V6 and nine-speed pairing as a sneak preview of the 2021 Frontier, which will be a fully redesigned model that finally replaces the current generation. We expect Nissan to unveil the 2021 Frontier before the end of this year.

Review

The midsize truck segment has seen a lot of change in recent years. The well-known Toyota Tacoma remains top in sales and resale value, while the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon cousins are comfortable and can be ordered with a diesel engine. The Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator both entered the market last year. The Ranger offers top gas-powered towing capability, while the Gladiator is true to its name in off-road situations. But we scored the versatile Honda Ridgeline highest in class for its strength and clever storage systems combined with a smooth ride quality and safety features. How does the Frontier drive? The Frontier’s new 3.8-liter V6 is definitely a step up from the previous 4.0-liter V6 engine. The additional power is noticeable right out of the gate. There’s plenty of punch, whether you’re taking off from a light or going to pass on the highway. The new nine-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly during typical driving. Even during max acceleration, things are still pretty polished. The rest of the driving experience is still good-ol’ Frontier, though. The ride is bumpy, the seats are stiff and poorly bolstered, and the steering is frighteningly vague. Without beating up on the Frontier too much, let’s just say we’ll be happy to drive the all-new version next year.

Release date

At long last, there’s a brand new Nissan Frontier on the way, set to replace a mid-size pickup well overdue for retirement. We’ve seen the first stage of this switch already, in the form of the 2021 Frontier’s new 310-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission – a powertrain combo that’s expected to carry over unchanged into the new generation. Now, we might have just gotten a good look at the new truck’s dramatically restyled front end, courtesy of a leaked 2021 Nissan Frontier rendering shared by Nissan Nation Productions, although there’s some question as to how production-representative the image actually is.

Video

It’s also a reminder of what we used to expect of pickup trucks. The Frontier is one of the only true compact pickups left. Colorado and Ranger are basically the light-heavyweight boxers of the truck world, just big enough to be a pain to maneuver or park in tight situations. No wonder Toyota hasn’t felt the need to touch the Tacoma in ages. And that gets us to a problem. This punchy new drivetrain adds a hefty premium to the Frontier’s price tag. The cheapest one you can buy in 2021 stickers at $26,790, a $7500 increase over last year—for a King Cab with shorty rear doors, on steel wheels. As The Drive points out, this means there isn’t a single new pickup you can buy for under $20,000 in the U.S. market. The four-wheel drive crew-cab Pro-4X I sampled starts at $37,490. That’s strong money for a truck you could park in the background of a movie about the White Sox winning the 2005 World Series. Of course, this is a stop-gap. That all-new drivetrain is slated to star in a fully-redesigned Frontier that’s due in the 2021 model year. We suspect Nissan will do to the Frontier what every other automaker has done to their small truck: make it bigger, more luxurious, and all around closer to what we used to expect of a full-size pickup. The loss of the bare-bones Frontier will just be another marker of the inexorable passage of time.

Photos/Pictures Gallery

See photos of the interior and exterior Nissan Frontier 2021 on this site.




2 comments

  1. Looks good

  2. I enjoyed my 2005,20210 and 2015 Frontier King Cab 2 wheel drive trucks, reliable, economical and just what I wanted in a truck. No with a rumored $7500 price increase for a revised engine and transmission I will be looking elsewhere, that’s SuperCar pricing…Goodbye

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