A few years ago, the Nissan Frontier was completely redesigned throughout the world. Gone was the truck that we’ve come to know as the Frontier, replaced instead by a new model with more modern styling and better technology and all that. This was no surprise, as the Frontier is ancient, and a new truck was badly needed.
The surprise, however, came in North America: we’d continue to get the same old Frontier we’ve always gotten. The rest of the world got a new one, but our Frontier was going to stay old, outdated and very different from the global Frontier. The question I must ask now, several years after that happened, is: WHY?
I ask this question for several reasons. One is obvious: How come, when the rest of the world got a totally new truck, Nissan decided it would be better for North America — the world’s number one truck market — to make due with the old one, which has been out for 13 years now? But there’s more to it than that: Specifically, why would Nissan make this decision right when midsize pickups seem to be all the rage? There’s a new Ford Ranger, new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models, and an updated Toyota Tacoma. And all of them are selling in reasonable numbers, as trucks and SUVs are incredibly hot right now. Why has Nissan decided to sit it out?
One argument could be that they think the current Frontier is fine, but it isn’t. The Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon offer highly efficient turbodiesel powertrains. The Ford Ranger has a fantastic turbocharged 4-cylinder that provides great power and torque. The Frontier soldiers on with its ancient — durable, sure, but ancient — 4.0-liter V6, with meager gas mileage. What’s more, the Frontier shows its age in other ways — like, for instance, its crash test ratings: just three stars for driver frontal impact, and two stars for passenger. This isn’t really acceptable for a modern vehicle.
And that’s because it isn’t a modern vehicle — instead, it’s an ancient vehicle, even though a suitable modern vehicle seems to exist elsewhere. I’m surprised by this, and I think a new Frontier would do reasonably well on the market. I’m just not sure why Nissan hasn’t made one yet.