The current Nissan Frontier pickup truck is one of the Canadian market’s longest-running vehicles, built on a proven platform that hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last 16 years. It’s actually old enough to legally drive itself in some provinces.
This doesn’t seem to be a wholly bad thing. Historically, its sales numbers have continued to be strong, underscoring the desire of some truck customers who wish to simply score a dependable workhorse at an affordable price.
Its sales are off a tad this year, as they are for most trucks, but this could be partially chalked up to Nissan’s decision to run out the 2019 clock instead of replenishing dealer lots with new-engine-old-bodystyle 2020-model-year machines.
Nissan Global unveiled the Navara midsize pickup this month, a truck that will appear in other markets such as Thailand and Australia. It is different than the next-gen Frontier that will be sold in Canada and markedly dissimilar from the Final Frontier currently on sale at your Nissan store down the road. Confusingly, this foreign-market truck will be sold in Mexico as the Frontier (but not our Frontier).
Still, there is much we can learn from this want-it-can’t-have-it pickup for other markets when trying to determine details of the upcoming Frontier. The inclusion of Nissan Intelligent Mobility features and safety systems is a given, potentially making Frontier one of the only midsize pickups with Level 2 autonomous driving aids. Bank on the Intelligent Around View Monitor making an appearance as well, since such a feature would have a business case both in a crowded parking lot or on a tight off-road trail.
The new Navara puts a focus on leisure trims, bringing a PRO-4X model into its fold for the first time. Expect a similar marketing decision on this side of the pond with our Frontier. After all, the majority of today’s buyers – even in the midsize segment – want a rig with snazzy features and luxury touches with a bit of off-road aggression. Witness the Colorado ZR2 and Tacoma TRD Pro.
It is widely known the 2021 Frontier will be powered by a 3.8L V6 engine making 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic is on tap but don’t expect a manual transmission, at least not right away. Three-pedal versions of the Colorado and Canyon recently vanished, while the Tacoma is only available as a stick in limited models. The current Frontier can be equipped with a six-speed manual in King Cab PRO-4X trim only.
The folks at Nissan Canada could not speak to specifics about next year’s Frontier when asked for comment. They did confirm our truck will be built at the plant in Canton, Mississippi, and will arrive in Nissan Canada showrooms in 2021. The latter is good to have on record, as the company is in the process of winding down sales of its Titan pickup and NV commercial vans; neither product will live in Canada after the 2021 model year.
Eagle-eyed viewers spied a telling image in the background of the Navara video reveal, one which likely gives a strong hint of 2021 Frontier styling cues. Shown as one of three pickups, the other two being the existing Titan and Navara, this mystery pickup shares much with camouflaged Frontier prototypes spied testing south of the border. Its lantern jaw and upright grille will surely play well with Nissan’s new Lava Orange accents, part of its PRO-4X design language.
Nissan Canada is eager to remind us our Frontier and the Navara-Frontier are different vehicles tailored to the demands of the markets in which they’re sold. Still, the new Navara provides insight into what will surely be a competitive player in the midsize pickup game.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020