The 2014 Nissan Frontier hasn't seen a significant upgrade in about a decade. Equipped with a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the midsize pickup gets essentially the same fuel-economy marks as a full-size Chevrolet Silverado, but the Chevy engine has twice that number of cylinders and more than doubles the Frontier's displacement, horsepower and torque ratings. But in January, while the all-new Silverado endured an 18.4 percent sales decline, the 2014 Nissan Frontier was enjoying an 87.9 percent surge in volume on a significant 4,931 deliveries. Needless to say, Nissan must be wondering how the Frontier would do if it ever did get redesigned, and the company has started testing the waters with the debut of the Frontier Diesel Runner at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show.
The project truck is based on a two-wheel-drive 2014 Nissan Frontier "Desert Runner" edition, but with one major tweak: clean-diesel engine that displaces 2.8 liters and offers outputs of "nearly" 200 hp and in excess of 350 lb.-ft. of torque. More importantly, Nissan also reports a 35 percent advance in fuel efficiency (as compared to a V6-powered 2014 Nissan Frontier). Doing the math here would result in EPA grades of roughly 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/24 mpg combined, which would make it the only pickup on the market able to reach the big 3-0.
At this stage, though, there actually aren't any plans to bring this specific model to dealerships, with the automaker noting that the project was created to "both gauge the market reaction to a Nissan mid-size pickup with a diesel engine and plot a potential future direction for the Frontier."
Just remember that GM already has promised to eventually offer its redesigned 2015 Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon with diesel power, while the manufacturer of the Nissan project's powerplant is Cummins; that latter company has a long history of supplying diesel engines to the auto industry and also has officially committed to supplying the brand-new Nissan Titan full-size pickup with a 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8 sometime next year.
Added Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Sales & Marketing, Parts & Service for Nissan North America: "Frontier continues to be a huge success story for us, with more than 60,000 units sold in 2013. Nissan has always valued the mid-size pickup segment, and with this technical study project, we are looking to explore what is possible for the next-generation Frontier.”