PICKUP TRUCK SURVEY: What Are 350 Lb-Ft and 30+ MPG Worth? Nissan Seeks Input on Future Diesel Frontier

Survey Link: www.tinyurl.com/nissanfrontiersurvey

Frontier_Diesel_Runner header GIF

The Nissan Frontier Diesel was an exciting surprise for a smash-hit Chicago auto show this year.

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Prototype GIF 2

  • This is an exciting discovery from the photos below: The Boost Gauge Goes Up To 35 PSI!

    • That is a lot of boost. My Subaru Legacy GT’s OEM turbo maxed out at 12.2 PSI. Okay, but what about the WRX STI? Only 15 PSI.


  • Second exciting photo realization? If a Diesel Frontier is in the pipeline with this Xterra roof rack, could the diesel also fit in Nissan’s next-gen SUVs?


  • Third one? New rear long-tail spoiler tells me this truck has already had some wind-tunnel time.

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins

Not only is it painted in signature Cummins red “Arrest Me” accents, the truck is not a fantasy concept. This was not pushed onto the stage — it drove itself, thankyou!

2014-02-18_142327 Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins

This is a real-world demo platform for the future of the Nissan Frontier hardbody pickup. But if produced, would also be a pretty big gamble and upfront investment in an unsteady segment: mid-size trucks.

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????

Nissan brought the big guns to Chi-town to solicit feedback on this potential future diesel mid-size. Fred Diaz made the case for this powertrain pretty convincingly, but will buyers share his enthusiasm for 30-plus MPG and 350-plus pound-feet of torque?

In case you read no further — take Nissan’s survey now to share your unique perspective. It is available at this link, with some kind of sweeps entry for participants who leave their info at the end of the 5-min online questionnaire.


The stats of the Cummins-powered Frontier Runner concept are extremely impressive: approximately 200 horsepower and that big lump of torque right from 1,500 RPM upwards.

Nissan is collaborating heavily with Cummins to supply the next-gen Titan full-size truck with the latest diesel engines.

Cummins Titan Crate engine graphic2

This is an exploding market segment, and one where Chevy and Ford are caught a bit flat-footed. Both companies have frozen and thawed their 4.5-liter in-line-six diesel engine plans numerous times since 2005.


If not still on ice, Ford and Chevy’s ‘small’ truck diesel engines are certainly very behind schedule.

So a great time to pounce. Truck buyers love diesel. It is a slang term in rural areas for ‘great power and strength.’


This was news-to-me. I thought calling someone ‘Diesel’ was in reference to the once-hot Italian fashion house. How much I have to learn about America outside the big cities…

So, would you buy this? Nissan wants to know. If so, how much would you pay to upgrade your $22,000 Frontier V6 gasoline truck to a four-cylinder turbo-diesel?

I answered that the upgrade is worth about $500-$1000 to me, but that was on the low, low side of the answers range.


And this opens the next can of worms: how much is the Cummins name worth? Is local manufacturing one of Cummins’ benefits? Unknown.

  • One thing I do know: Cummins charges a fortune for their engines, which can total about $9,000 each (for the crate engine alone) for Ram and others who use these torque-monsters.

  • The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel runs an Italian-made VM Motori unit with Chrysler’s licensed eight-speed automatic from ZF.

  • The other thing I know: Cummins engines are, historically, extremely unrefined and … have some very spotty quality histories from Consumer Reports, among others.

Cummins Titan Crate engine graphic

As my previous ‘Diesel’ statement confirms: perhaps I am missing the real brand magic of the Cummins name. I would, in truth, rather have a Nissan turbo-diesel four — of which the company has many varieties already on sale all over the world.

In addition, the Renault Group (and all French manufacturers, for that matter, have really deep and extensive diesel engine expertise.) But a Frenchie diesel in an American-made Frontier hardbody? Sacrilege? Perhaps.

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I do not have the answers to these or many other questions of this f-ed up world we all share. But you, American pickup drivers, do have the answers~!

So share that with Nissan, which seeks input as the next-gen Diesel Cummins Titan is finalized and the Frontier is next in line for big upgrades!

Okay, fine. I will pretend I have the answers .. for consistency with my other recent articles =]

  • Frontier Diesel: Yes

  • Automatic transmission for all diesels: Yes, at least available.

  • Cummins for Frontier? Not if the price premium is double a Nissan turbodiesel.

Frontier_Diesel_Runner header GIF

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner – Chicago Auto Show Prototype

2014 Nissan Frontier – Gasoline V6

Official details below from Nissan.

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Prototype GIF 2

VIDEO REPORT: Comments Welcomed on Potential Diesel-Powered Nissan Frontier

CHICAGO – Nissan did not design its Frontier Diesel Runner to attract the attention of law enforcement.

However the unique project truck is likely to stop a few Chicago Auto Show visitors in their tracks. The truck is powered by a distinctly red Cummins 2.8-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine and painted in highlights of “Arrest Me Red.”

“This is a legitimate truck that you have to take a look at. I know that if we can get them in there, to come in and look at this truck, nine times out of ten, we are going to send them home in this truck,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, Parts and Service, Nissan North America.

The two-wheel drive diesel Frontier maintains and even increases the usability of a Frontier truck. This announcement follows the previous news that Nissan intends to offer a 5.0-liter turbo diesel V8 in the next-generation Titan. That full-size pickup arrives in 2015.

“I look at it as a one-two punch. To be able to have that kind of affiliation and partnership with a brand like Cummins and put it together with a great brand like Nissan, and then put it in our two trucks – I think that sends a message to the truck world and to truckers across the U.S. that we are serious about our trucks,” said Diaz. “We are going to create that awareness and create the buzz that makes truckers come in and take a look at us.”

“For us it is the fit of this engine, the weight of this engine, the performance of this engine. The horsepower and torque capabilities that we can get out of this power package will really play well in a Frontier-size application, especially how people tend to use this product,” said Jeff Caldwell, general manager, Pickup Trucks Business, Cummins Inc.

Nissan has been building pickup trucks in the United States for more than 30 years and selling them here even longer than that. This project truck, based on Nissan’s Frontier Desert Runner 4×2 model, is looking for customer feedback to a mid-sized pickup with a diesel engine, and to plot a potential future direction for the Frontier.

“The guys from Cummins came and let me get behind the wheel of this truck. I drove it and tried as hard as I could to hurt the baby. I abused it and pushed it as hard as I could. The thing handled everything I could throw at it with ease,” said Diaz. “I don’t even think I came close to testing the limits despite everything that I tried within the legal limits of where we were driving. So, I was quite impressed – impressed with the get-up-and-go, the torque, horsepower, and everything that that truck is going to mean to the potential truck buyer if we end up bringing it to market.”

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Prototype GIF 2

To give feedback on this project, please visit www.tinyurl.com/nissanfrontiersurvey.