2020 Nissan Frontier: New 3.8-Liter V6 And Transmission, Same Old Everything Else

It’s got more horsepower than any other mid-size pickup.

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2020 Nissan Frontier: New 3.8-Liter V6 And Transmission, Same Old Everything Else © 2020 Nissan Frontier: New 3.8-Liter V6 And Transmission, Same Old Everything Else

Nissan has already confirmed that 2020 will be the final model year for its current-gen Frontier pickup. Resultantly, it's set to mark the end of a 15-year run that has seen relatively few changes for the mid-sizer, though the new truck will foreshadow its successor in one key area: its powertrain. Wednesday afternoon, Nissan announced that an all-new 3.8-liter V6 will be the highlight of its forthcoming Frontier, boasting a best-in-class rating of 310 horsepower.


While there are other minor changes to the 2020 Frontier, like standard power locks and windows—Hello, 21st Century—the powertrain is the most notable. According to Nissan, 93 percent of the engine's components are new or redesigned, helping it to deliver 49 more horsepower than the outgoing 4.0-liter. It also replaces the venerable 2.5-liter four-cylinder, meaning it'll be the pickup's only available power plant.

Torque is rated at 281 pound-feet.


Complimenting this 3.8-liter is a new nine-speed automatic transmission, similar to that in the new Titan and Titan XD. It touts unique gear ratios to its counterparts and apparently offers a 99 percent larger gear range, meaning Nissan anticipates better fuel economy out of the juiced-up Frontier to boot. Our impressions of this gearbox are largely positive, at least in the automaker's full-size applications; it'll have to be good considering the five-speed manual is now also dead.

As expected, customers will be able to spec their 2020 Frontier in rear- or four-wheel-drive with either an extended or crew cab.


Sadly, it looks like Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite still won't be available on the 2020 Frontier. While the automaker is likely holding off for the next-gen model to implement its active safety tech, it's a shame that it's not standard or even available as it is on other Nissan models. This means no automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, or high beam assist.

Expect to see 2020 Frontiers hit dealer lots in spring of this year. Nissan is yet to announce pricing figures, although we bet there will be a slight increase over the truck's current $19,290 base.


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