2020 Nissan Frontier MAMA eMeeting | By Larry Nutson and Thom Cannell
2020 Nissan Frontier
New powertrain; new price
by Thom Cannell and Larry Nutson
Michigan and Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel
Zoom-land May 19, 2020; After a short delay, Nissan “again” debuted its 2020 Frontier. We say “again”, as they put it on display at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show in February with modest details. Today we got more news at a MAMA eMeeting.
Since we can’t meet in person, we along with about sixty of our auto media colleagues, who are also members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) met “virtually” on the invite of Nissan as part of the new MAMA eMeet series to “Zoom” and talk all things 2020 Frontier.
Briefly, the 2020 model is significantly changed in only one respect, it now uses a single engine and transmission. That’s an all-new 3.8-liter V-6 mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine is rated at 310-horspeower, an increase of 49 horsepower over the previous V6, while also providing improved fuel economy and emissions performance. Nissan says its best-in-class.
Nissan’s Melaina Vasko, Vehicle Development Performance Manager, says the 9-speed automatic helps give them superb control over gear-centric activities like off roading and towing while delivering improved shift feel. The new powertrain also generally improves overall fuel economy, now rated at 18 city mpg, 24 highway mpg and 20 combined mpg for 4x2 models. Ratings for 4x4 models are 17 city mpg, 23 highway mpg, and 19 combined mpg.
Nissan says the new powertrain gets better fuel economy than the outgoing in-line four-cylinder. Overall, the 2020 Frontier is quieter running compared to the last year’s model due to the new powertrain.
Zero to 60 mph acceleration is in 7.9 seconds, compared to the previous 8.1 seconds. Trailer tow rating remains the unchanged.
Michael Yarger, Senior Manager Product Planning, said the 2020 Frontier offers a number of other upgrades for the new model year, including standard push button start. In addition, a number of features are now standard for all grades: leather shift knob, manual tilt steering, power door locks and power windows with driver side auto-down.
The 2020 Frontier is available in King Cab, Crew Cab Short Wheelbase and Crew Cab Long Wheelbase bodies and in a choice of 4x2 and 4x4 drive configurations.
For model year 2020, there will be a price increase, which Nissan says is under $2000 model-to-model, but includes the pricier engine and transmission, and other significant upgrades. For instance, the popular SV at $31,990 includes an option to take a Midnight Edition or Special Edition at no increase in price. Those include leather interior appointments, upgraded wheels and tires, dual air conditioning and other bits. Or the Pro4X costs, on paper, $3,000 more but includes $2,100 of premium content according to the company. So the latest Pro4X is, in effect, $900 more. What’s interesting about all the pricing is that, the old V-6 compared to the all-new V-6 is an increase of $870. Surely you’d pay $30 for a more modern engine, one with 310 horsepower instead of 261?
Starting MSRP is $26,790 for 2020 Frontier King Cab 4x2 S model, plus the $1,095 destination charge.
The new truck will be built in Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant, the engine at the Dechard, Tennessee facility. The 2020 Nissan Frontier will be in dealer showrooms in July.
A 2021 Frontier was expected in fall 2020, but who knows what will happen now with the Covid-19 impact on the entire automobile industry.
Going back in time, Nissan delivered its first compact pickup to the North American market in 1959 with the Datsun 220, their first half-ton compact pickup in 1969 and the first King Cab small pickup in 1983. We’ve come a long way, baby!