The Nissan Frontier has a lot going for it. A proven, rock solid design. Powerful motor. Terrific ground clearance and all-around off-road capability. Reasonable (at least compared with the Toyota Tacoma) price tag, both new and used. It also has some strikes against it. Chief among those is that it’s the same truck today as it was in 2009. Seriously. Sit in a 2019 and a 2009 and see if you can see significant differences. That, in and of itself is fine—if it ain’t broke, etc.
But it also means that unless you just really really want that new truck smell and a warranty, you may as well pick up a relative bargain-priced used Frontier. So, new sales have lagged behind Tacomas, (Toyota sells three Tacos for every Frontier Nissan sells) with Frontier owners knowing they have a good thing, but lots of presumptive truck owners not sure what to make of Nissan’s ancient workhorse.
Nissan knows this, they also know that overlanding is having a “moment” and they’ve responded with a special edition called the Nissan Destination Frontier. It looks like an incredible overland rig for a price that isn’t terrifying. The truck is a one-off meant to show that $40k can get you, based on aftermarket parts, a truck that is ready, right now, for serious backcountry adventure.
The Destination Frontier was on display at Overland Expo West over the weekend.
It’s built around a 2019 Frontier Crew Cab SV 4×4 Midnight Edition, which run roughly $33k out the door. The bolt-ons include a Nisstec 3-inch lift kit, Nitto Trail Grappler off-road tires (excellent, if a bit aggressive) wrapped around American Racing AX201 wheels. Out back, there’s a Leitner Designs bed rack, and a rooftop tent from Cascadia Designs. A Dometic fridge/freezer running on a slider sits in the bed.
Skid plates, rock sliders, a Warn winch and recovery gear round out the build.
All told, Nissan says the build can be done for $40k, including the $33k for the cost of the truck.
Rumors about a redesign of the Frontier have floated around for years. This spring, it’s been reported by Motor Trend that next year will see a total refresh, bringing the dinosaur up to date.
In the meantime, touting the dependable platform of the existing Frontier as a budget-minded entry (Nissan actually calls it that in a press release) into a serious overlanding rig makes sense. What doesn’t make much sense is trying to pass a $40k truck off as “budget.” Though in a day when 15-year-old Tacomas with 200,000 miles still fetch north of $10k in the used market, with new models soaring close to $50k, a brand new truck bristling with everything you’d need, minus food and beer in that Dometic fridge is as close to budget as we’re going to get.