Nissan Tests the Demand For a Diesel Frontier

2015 Nissan Frontier

General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon made waves with their plans to come equipped with a 2.8 liter diesel engine for the 2016 model year, but they won’t be the only show in town. It appears that the bond forged between Nissan (NSANY.PK) and Cummins (NYSE:CMI) has yielded its first product, in the form of a diesel-powered Nissan Frontier.

Like the anticipated unit from GM, the Frontier’s new power plant is 2.8 liters, and is hooked up to a ZF eight-speed transmission, Autoblog reports. Otherwise, its essentially the same Frontier Desert Runner 4×2, with the new unit shoe-horned in place of the 4.0 liter V6. However, its this unit that makes a world of difference.

Nissan assures that the Cummins unit — in this application — is good for 200 horsepower and over 350 pound-feet of torque, putting it on the same performance level as some entry-level larger pickups. The big news, though, is that this unit could provide a significant 35 percent improvement in fuel economy over the gasoline V6, greatly upping the efficiency of Nissan’s small truck. Given that the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is rated for 28 miles per gallon on the highway, it’s not a stretch to believe that smaller diesel trucks might nail the big three-o within the next year or two.

Aside from the generous application of graphics, little else has changed for the concept; it still boasts its familiar — if not a bit dated, at this point — appearance. So why is it called a concept it’s its largely the same vehicle?

2015 Nissan Frontier

As it turns out, the new engine-transmission configuration won’t fit in today’s production vehicle without extensive structural changes. Therefore, Nissan’s Frontier concept is a few years away from seeing production, as the company is working hard on a new, redesigned Titan pickup, one which will boast a 5.0 liter Cummins unit.

“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. We are always looking for ways to engage our customers, innovate and take the segment in an evolutionary direction,” said Nissan’s senior vice president of Sales & Marketing Fred Diaz.

Essentially, the concept you see before you is a thermometer to gauge consumer temperature before committing itself to several million in investments for the vehicle. Would you want one?

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