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Two Decades with the Nissan Frontier


Nissan’s compact truck has been around since 1997, but why don’t we hear about or see it more? 

For a truck that’s been around for two decades, what does the Nissan Frontier have that other compact trucks don’t? Since 1997, Nissan has produced the Frontier to meet the needs of a small to medium size truck market. Let’s find out what’s kept the Frontier moving forward while others have left the compact truck market over the years.

Exploring a New Frontier

In the late 1990s, Nissan was ready to make a name for itself in the compact truck market. Previously, the company had produced the Nissan Hardbody truck, but with its declining sales in North America, they needed another design to keep drivers interested. That’s where the Frontier, or Narvara as it’s known everywhere else in the world, came in.

1998 Nissan Frontier on Carsforsale.com
1998 Nissan Frontier on Carsforsale.com

Initially, the Frontier was manufactured with 3 body styles: Single Cab, King Cab, and Crew Cab. Two years after it made its debut, Nissan knew the Frontier needed a little extra oomph. They landed with a design for the Desert Runner, a 4×4 drivetrain version with bigger tires and more ground clearance and later it would come with a V6 engine.

After the 2000 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan debuted another facelift for the Frontier to appeal to younger buyers. The truck would remain relatively unchanged until 2004 when the Single Cab model was discontinued.

Upping the Ante

2005 would be a big year for the Frontier as Nissan shifted from compact to midsize truck alongside rival Toyota’s Tacoma. Built on an all-new F-Alpha platform, the Frontier more closely resembled Nissan’s full-size truck, the Titan. The towing capacity was extended to 6500 lbs., rear and four-wheel drivetrains were available, traction/hill descent control were optional. These changes led to the Frontier’s overall success in the U.S.

2005 Nissan Frontier on netcarshow.com
2005 Nissan Frontier on netcarshow.com

From 2009 onward, the Frontier would feature new technology and comfort to meet industry standards in North America and abroad every year.

The Frontier Paves the Way

The Frontier didn’t just contribute to Nissan’s success. In 2016, the Frontier platform would be essential in developing the Mercedes Benz X-Class and Renault Alaskan, two concept trucks that would be sold abroad in Europe and South America.

Not only has the Frontier been a staple pickup across the globe, but it has also set new standards for safety in the truck industry. In 2011, the Frontier was Edmund’s Top Recommended Compact Truck and received the National Highway Safety Administration’s 5-Star rating. The Insurance Institute for High Safety named the Frontier a Top Safety Pick in their annual safety testing.

How Has the Frontier Lasted This Long?

2020 Nissan Navara
2020 Nissan Navara on netcarshow.com
2020 Nissan Navara interior
2020 Nissan Navara interior on netcarshow.com

The Frontier has been in production across the globe for over two decades. It’s provided truck drivers with a decently priced, utility vehicle that doesn’t guzzle gas as quickly as a full-sized pickup. With 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, the Frontier is not only a work truck but a daily driver. Many who have driven a Frontier for over a decade have been astounded by how well their vehicle runs with (hundreds of) thousands of miles racked up on the odometer. These long-lasting trucks offer even those who cannot afford a full-sized truck the chance to have utility and reliability all in one.

Just look at what people have to say, today, about their used Frontiers:

A Used Frontier is Still Our Jam

The Nissan Frontier is still one of the best midsize trucks in the used vehicle market. Nissan continues to manufacture these trucks every year for good reason. It’s durability, capability, and a great price tag make the Frontier a prime choice for drivers who want a truck, but don’t want to empty their wallet. What more can you ask for?

Do you own a Nissan Frontier? Tell us what you love (or hate) about it in the comments below!

Erin Maxson

Erin loves nothing more than a good road trip. To her, getting behind the wheel is one of the biggest adventures you can take because it can lead to anywhere. Alongside her Toyota Tundra, you'll find her co-pilot pup, Rory, and a 1976 Airstream Argosy in tow. Her motto: Life is a scenic road, take your time and enjoy the ride.

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  1. Avatar
    Barry Duncan November 19, 2019

    I have a 2012 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab I bought new. It currently has 69,000 miles on it and goes back to the dealer for routine maintenance only. It had never needed a repair. This is a great truck and I plan to drive it for several more years.

    1. Carsforsale.com Team
      Carsforsale.com Team November 19, 2019

      Thanks for sharing, Barry! This is great!

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