We are talking about a brand-new engine and transmission!
Many jokes have been made about the Nissan Frontier, given that it has been on the market (basically unchanged) since 2004. As Nissan's mid-size truck gets ready to sign up for an AARP card, rumors have been circulating about its long-anticipated replacement. Development of the next Frontier is reportedly underway but before then, Nissan has updated the current model with a brand-new engine and transmission.
The 2020 Nissan Frontier arrives at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show featuring what Nissan calls the "heart of the next Frontier." This heart is a new 3.8-liter V6 engine mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission (the same one used in the updated Titan).
Nissan says this new V6 and nine-speed transmission will be key elements in the next-generation Frontier. The 3.8-liter mill replaces both the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and current 4.0-liter V6 while the nine-speed replaces the aging five-speed automatic and manual transmission. This likely means there will not be a manual transmission on offer for the next-generation Frontier but Nissan would neither confirm or deny it, saying only that the 2020 Frontier will be auto-only.
We won't mourn the loss of the manual for too long though, because Nissan's new V6 produces 310 horsepower, a massive increase over the four-banger's 152 hp and the old V6's 261 hp. Along with the 49 hp increase over the old V6, Nissan says the new engine will have improved acceleration and fuel economy.
The 3.8-liter unit isn't just a small update either, it features 93 percent new or redesigned parts. New details include a direct injection gasoline system, cylinder heads with integrated exhaust manifolds, a variable displacement oil pump, variable timing control, and a variable tumble control valve. Power will be sent out to a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system with 2WD, 4HI, 4LO modes, and an electronically controlled part-time transfer case.
Visually, the 2020 Frontier looks the same as the 2019 model but now includes standard push-button start, leather shift knob, manual tilt steering, power door locks, and power windows with driver-side auto-down. Buyers can choose between King Cab or Crew Cab configurations with two bed sizes, both including a spray-on bed liner and Utili-track Channel System. The 2020 Frontier goes on sale in spring 2020 and we expect the next-generation model to arrive sometime next year.