Nissan is officially promising that the 2020 Frontier will be “the last of” the current generation pickup, with an all-new model slated for next year. As a sendoff, the final-year second-gen truck will have the upcoming third-gen powertrain. That will either make these 2020s super desirable or a huge pain in the ass to own.
Today’s U.S.-market Frontier, the D40 second generation, has been sold since 2004 and architecturally isn’t all that different from the earlier D22 it replaced. The best spec for 2019 has a V6 engine good for a claimed 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. You can even pair that with four-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission, though the five-speed automatic option is a lot more popular. There was also a four-cylinder bargain-basement model.
The next Frontier, according to Nissan’s press release, is only going to have one engine pick: a 3.8-liter direct-injection gasoline V6 claiming 310 HP and 281 lb-ft of torque, paired with a nine-speed automatic. “Two-wheel drive or four” will be the only choice left, there.
No fuel economy claims have been posted yet but if it’s not significantly better than the current truck’s 23-mpg highway max, Nissan’s engineers will have wasted a lot of time.
So I guess that means the 2020 truck is going to be a one-year-only second-gen body with the third-gen engine. If you want the new propulsion system but like the old (ancient) design, now’s your chance! It just might be a little annoying when you’re parts shopping later and constantly have to double-check what’s compatible.