Nissan Frontier Hardbody debuts loaded with retro 1980s nods

Remember the Nissan Hardbody teaser from last week? It debuted today and as was foretold from the teaser it’s an option package on the Frontier rather than a distinct model. However, the package contains several nostalgic nods to the original D21 Our favorite is probably the 3-spoke block wheels that are essentially a carbon copy of their 1980s’ counterpart, just bigger.

The Hardbody package starts with the 4×4 SV Crew Cab trim level, with four full-sized doors, which the D21 never had. It’s a bit odd they didn’t start with the King Cab, the extended cabin two-door variant that dates back to the 620.

Still, Nissan did a pretty good job of bringing back several heritage cues. “We are proud of Nissan’s long legacy of compact pickup trucks,” said lead designer Hiren Patel. “We took some of those design elements and modernized them.”

“I was constantly searching for Hardbody trucks for sale online, and I had pictures of them up all over the studio,” said Patel. “As the first full production model designed by our studio, it’s an important piece of history to us at Nissan Design America.”

Here’s a list of the retro bits that link the Hardbody package to the D21.

  • three-spoke alloy wheels
  • black bumper
  • black grille
  • black mirrors
  • black door handles
  • black over-fenders (all Frontiers have these)
  • black side rails
  • “4×4” graphic decal package on doors
  • mudflaps embossed with classic “4×4” graphic
  • black bed-mounted “sport bar”
  • black “Nissan” cutout stripe on tailgate replacing “Nissan” emblem

The Frontier is a pretty good Tacoma competitor, but both trucks have grown considerably since the 1980s. For example, those rad, all-terrain tire-wrapped 3-spoke wheels are 17 inches in diameter as opposed to the original’s 14 inches. The D21 came with 2.4-liter inline-four or 3.0-liter V6 engines. In the final year it was offered before being discontinued for emissions reasons, 1995, it made 153 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The Frontier comes with a 3.8-liter direct injection V6 making 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque.

It would be great to see a true compact truck in the market again, but any move in that direction would probably result in a unibody truck like the Ford Maverick or Hyundai Santa Cruz. Toyota dealers have reportedly been clamoring for a sub-Tacoma truck to compete with those, so Nissan could have a chance to step out of the Tacoma’s shadow here. They’ve already got the perfect name for it.

Additional Images:

Images courtesy of Nissan.

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4 Responses to Nissan Frontier Hardbody debuts loaded with retro 1980s nods

  1. pete240z says:

    wow, a Nissan product that I really like! I like the Z but it’s priced out of my budget. Will this end up being a $50,000 truck? Then I am not interested but I imagine it probably will be……..

    • Ben Hsu says:

      The Frontier SV Crew Cab 4×4 that it’s based on costs $36,870, so I think this will be closer to $40,000.

    • Stick says:

      Bank on it it will be over $50,000. I bought a 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab, 2 Wheel Dr. automatic transmission with a V6. It was slightly over $40,000 and I believe that it’s way over priced it should be under $38,000 for a 2 Wheel Dr. truck.

      Personally, I like the 1995 Nissan extended cab that I had back in the day four-cylinder automatic transmission. These new trucks are very difficult for people to work on just to let you know Mike 95 Nissan had it oil leak underneath the timing chain cover so I put it in my garage. I pulled the oil pan off. I pulled the valve cover off. I pulled the timing chain cover off and I put all new gaskets and I put all new seals in and I put it all back together, I also put in a new hydraulic chain tensioner because the old one was a little slack a prude like a kitten when I was done and it did not leak oil .

      This new truck would be a nightmare to do that too if you keep something that long, but let me say this Pete240Z I’ve said it before and I will say it again I’m looking for that one 1995 all the way up to a 1997 Nissan extended cab truck if I find one that’s not been abused that’s got decent miles on it I will pick it up and I will get rid of my 2022 and be happy to do it. I don’t need a brand new truck. I do have a lot of regrets of buying this one because it was right at $40,000 and buying it was my fault I should’ve never done that I should’ve done my homework.

  2. Stick Bogart says:

    My name is stick Bogart. I have a 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab V6 2 Wheel Dr.. I’ve been a fan of Datsun / Nissan all the way back since 1972. My biggest regret in life as far as vehicles or concern is getting rid of my 1995 Nissan extended cab, 2 Wheel Dr., 4 cylinder truck, which was a 2.4 L engine. I should’ve never gotten rid of it but down the road several years later I bought the 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab, 2 Wheel Dr.

    I don’t like the steering it’s extremely stiff After working 10 to 14 hours a day. I want something that smooth it doesn’t bounce all over the place when you bounce over speed bumps in a parking lot or dealing with a stiff steering suspension. That’s what I get for my 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab.

    If I could find a 1995 all the way up to a 1997 extended cab, four-cylinder automatic, 2 Wheel Dr. I would gladly part with my 2022 Nissan frontier

    1 the truck has an extremely stiff suspension
    2 the steering is extremely stiff
    3 the back up camera is foggy. It’s not Clear at all.
    4 you cannot turn the driving lights off when the engine is running. If you’re parked in your driveway, the lights stay on you can’t turn them off.
    5 the 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab is about six to $8000 over priced for what you get.
    6 Getting access to the oil filter to change the oil could be made a lot easier.
    7 for a $40,000 truck you would think the Radio would sound much better
    8 the door, locking mechanism on the drivers door has a glitch in it. You have to open the back door and reach through and unlock the drivers door sometimes.

    Personally, I don’t think Nissan really cares too much about their customers because the previous truck model went from 2005 all the way up to 2021 that’s way too many years for a new model to come out.

    I still think my Nissan 1995 extended cab automatic I got much more bang for the buck and reliability of those trucks then what you get for today. If I could find a 1995 all the way to to a 1997 extended cab four-cylinder automatic that was in great shape with low miles I would get rid of my 2022 frontier in a New York minute and be happy that I did it.

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