As far as impending redesigns go, the one coming for Nissan’s Frontier midsize pickup has been unusual. It’s not because the current Frontier has been on sale for 17 years with minimal changes—although that is odd. But rather because for the 2020 model year, expected to be the old Frontier’s last, Nissan installed the all-new V-6 engine destined for the next-generation Frontier. Somewhat lost amongst the Frontier’s last-minute heart transplant were the details of its model-year changeover. When the 2020 Frontier and its new engine and transmission were announced last year, it was assumed the all-new Frontier would be a 2021 model year vehicle. Or perhaps it’d be a 2022 model, and there would simply be no 2021 Frontier. Given the situation, either move would have made sense.
But Nissan has gone another way: There will be a 2021 Frontier, which—you guessed it—is still the old truck.
Why the possibly short run? Because the new 2022 Nissan Frontier is expected to debut soon, meaning this 2021 version likely exists only to tide dealers over until that truck hits their lots later this year.
The 2021 Frontier continues the 2020’s sugar-spouse marriage of an old frame and body with the very new 310-hp 3.8-liter V-6 engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. Nissan had billed the new/old combination as a running beta test for the new powertrain, with the hopes of working out any kinks before the setup was pressed into service in the new 2022 Frontier.
Provided 2020-2021 Frontier customers are cool with that bargain, they’re in for decent value—the new powertrain is standard across the Frontier lineup, a rarity in the segment where most competitors (like the pre-2020 Frontier) offer weaker entry-level four-cylinder engines at a lower price point. Only the Honda Ridgeline also offers standard V-6 power, while the Ford Ranger comes only with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine offering six-cylinder-ish power. Still, thanks to its ancient bones and interior, the current Frontier places last in our midsize pickup truck rankings—a station the new model may soon change.
2021 Nissan Frontier Prices
- Frontier S King Cab 4×2: $28,240 (+$2,890 for 4×4)
- Frontier SV King Cab 4×2: $29,120 (+$2,890 for 4×4)
- Frontier S Crew Cab 4×2: $29,350 (+$3,390 for 4×4)
- Frontier SV Crew Cab 4×2 SWB: $30,250 (+$3,190 for 4×4)
- Frontier SV Crew Cab 4×2 LWB: $32,860 (+$1,000 for 4×4)
- Frontier Pro4X Crew Cab 4×4: $38,940
Prices for the 2021 Nissan Frontier inch northward slightly relative to the 2020 model, rising $355 across the board. Otherwise, the trim level structure remains the same, with S and SV grades available on King Cab extended cab and larger Crew Cab body styles, the latter available in regular and long-bed guises. The off-road-focused Frontier Pro4X remains the top-dog offering, and includes four-wheel drive standard.