Nissan Focuses on Titan – Frontier Delayed?

At a recent press event, a Nissan represenative said they had nothing to announce on the Frontier and all their focus is instead on the Titan. Is Nissan less interested in the mid-size market? Could Toyota be following suit?

Nissan Focuses on Titan - Frontier Delayed?

Nissan has yet to announce any new Frontier details. This begs the question if it is delayed/pushed aside? For now, the answer is yes.

For months now, we have speculated that a new Frontier has to be coming to market soon. The current generation is becoming really dated and a new model (or at least one with a better interior and/or more technology) should be on the docket. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case for now.

Last week, during a journalist driving event with a variety of different models, we asked Nissan representative Steve Parret on the future of the Frontier. Our question revolved around the idea that since the Novara was just released, will we see a Frontier soon? Actually, our direct question was if the new Frontier would be unveiled at the LA Auto Show ahead of the planned reveal of the Titan in Detroit. His response, “We have nothing to announce.”

This response is more than a bit shocking. With the new GM twins set to hit the market in a few months, a new Tacoma being worked on and Nissan’s growing sales success in the segment, it wasn’t the answer we were expecting.

New GM Twins = No Big Deal?

After the unveiling of the new GM twins, we had the opportunity to speak with Toyota’s Tundra and Tacoma Chief Engineer Mike Sweers on his thoughts. He told us that he expected GM to do more and not be so conservative. Maybe Nissan feels the same.

The current Nissan Frontier may have a powertrain and reliabilty record to match the new GM twins, it is far from being a strong competitor. And while, yes, it is true Toyota really needs to update their Tacoma, the argument could be stronger for Nissan to update their Frontier.

Currently, the Frontier has a really old interior and a big disparity between the technology features found in most modern vehicles. Nissan has done a good job of adding technology where it can on the old instrument panel, it just doesn’t equal what others have done.

With that said, Nissan has been gaining sales and market share as of late in the mid-size segment (although, we wonder if that is because of production issues in the prior year more than customers buying more models). It seems a bit strange for them not to update the Frontier with their current sales momenteum.

Nissan Goes All in on Titan

If Nissan is ignoring/downsizing the sales threat posed by the GM twins, it could be a costly mistake. The Frontier may be an old truck in need of a refresh, the current Titan is more so. With its large powertrain, it is more of a heavy-duty half-ton than just a full-size truck.

Where Ford can make the argument that the Ranger was to closely competitive with the F-150, we don’t see the same argument for the Nissan Frontier/Titan. They are simply very different vehicles in our opinion.

Another issue for Nissan in the full-size truck segment is brand loyalty. Sure, the mid-size segment has a similar brand loyalty ┬ástory, it isn’t the same thanks to Ford and Dodge/Ram ending their mid-size offerings. It has taken and will take a considerable long-term investment for Nissan to gain market share in full-size trucks. And yes, they have already spent some resources to do so, they haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

What does this mean for Toyota? Less competition for one thing. It also means the executives at Toyota will be even more leery of putting lots of resources into the mid-size truck program. And that is bad news for Tacoma buyers.

What do you think? Have you driven a Frontier in a while? Is it still competitive enough to not need refreshing?


  • RZChief

    My friend has a Frontier, nothing to rave about. I don’t think it’s quality or style is near as good as my Tacoma. Our neighbors have a Pathfinder. Again, nothing to rave about, my 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has more style and a much nicer interior and cost less. I’ve looked at Nissans at auto shows and quite honestly, they do nothing for me either in style or quality. I stated in another article, I really don’t think the GM twins are going to be significant competition in the mid size truck market. GM has a quality issue right now and other than die hard GM people, the “twins” would have to be a grand slam homerun in quality and style or offer something special like a diesel, and not everyone is looking diesel. I know the current version of Tacoma has been out for a while, but I think Toyota could do technology upgrades and improve fuel mileage at significantly less production costs and still have the most popular midsize truck.
    I also have another theory. I personally don’t think the US economy, or global economy is all that stable. And I think the car companies know or suspect the same thing and are treading cautiously when it comes to spending a lot of money to do significant retooling and model updates. It seems most of the auto manufacturers focus on one or two models for a significant revamp each year. I just read an article that said people are keeping their cars longer. And it seems there are always a good number of “left over” cars on lots when the next model year comes out. The ’15’s are out or hitting the dealers soon and I still see ’13’s advertised at some dealers. Just my opinion.

    • Tim Esterdahl

      RZ Chief,

      Good thoughts and I would agree with you that car companies don’t think the global economy is great. Just look at their losses in Europe as one example. After getting socked a few years ago, they are treading lightly and, frankly, for good reason.