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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8 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. Well if Nissan wants to bless me with a Nissan hardbody pickup truck God bless them and I have to say I’ve always been a big fan of Nissan and I believe it more people should drive Nissan it’s a very respectable company thank you Nissan for going out of your way and blessing me with the opportunity to drive a nice truck good truck thank you

  3. Ronald Jarrett says:

    Love the truck. Been niissan owner since the late
    80’s. But not sure how a cvt transmission could a the towing capacity and the power of truck and the tourqe. Outside of that love the truck but the price. Wish they would make a simple king cab cheaper 6 foot bed for a work truck.Good luck Nissan

  4. 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.

  5. Stick says:

    My name is stick I would like to say that I totally regret buying my 2022 Nissan frontier. Let me explain. Back in the day I had a 1995 Nissan hardbody XE pick up truck. It was 2 Wheel Dr. four-cylinder automatic transmission. The truck was extremely dependable. The air conditioning was very cold. It was very easy to change the oil. Any kind of maintenance on the truck or repairs were very easy. Even when I had a timing chain cover gasket leaking oil. It was so easy to repair the truck.

    Keep in mind I’ve been a fan of Nissan / Datsun trucks and cars all the way back to 1972. It’s a shame that I can’t find another 1995 up to 1997 extended cab four-cylinder, 2 Wheel Dr. If I could find one in great shape that has not been abused, I would grab it in a heartbeat and I would get rid of my 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab. Keep in mind in the mid 90s Nissan did build a hardbody pick up truck with four doors. They sold out to Mexico but they would not sell it to the American people.

    Over the years I’ve owned a lot of Nissan products, but I have big regrets of owning my 2022 Nissan frontier crew cab, 2 Wheel Dr.

    Let me explain

    1 they could’ve made it easier to change the oil filters a little difficult to get to
    2 there’s a glitch in the locking mechanism on the drivers door. Sometimes you have to open the back door and reach through an open from the inside.
    3 when you put the truck in reverse the back up camera is kind of foggy after spending $40,000. You would think that the camera would be really crystal clear but it’s not.
    4 I drive a truck for a living delivery in Aviation Fuel for the past 20 years. When I get off of work, I would like to be able to get into my truck, my frontier and have smooth, soft, steering really easy gentle to the touch but no it’s stiff.
    5. When driving through a parking lot and you drive over speed bumps, you noticed that the chassis is really stiff. I don’t like that. I thought about removing the stiff leaf springs and putting air shocks on it but I’m not going to do that.
    6 When sitting in my driveway with the engine on the lower lights on the front bumper, you cannot turn them off. Why didn’t they give us a switch where we could turn them off and turn them on whenever we want to regardless, if we are moving or not.

    7. Personally, I think the truck is about six to $8000 over priced. Spending close to $40,000 you think the back up camera would be very crystal clear. You would also think that the radio sounds pretty good not like it came out of a Kmart store..

    8. I don’t like the fact that the whole front of the truck is a big piece of plastic. There’s been several times that I’ve had to realign the bumper with the fender by pushing it back into place.
    You spent $40,000 the front grill/bumper should be metal no plastic. God only knows how long that will last.

    To be truthful with everybody, and with respect if I can find a 1995 all the way up to a 1997 extended cab, 2 Wheel Dr. four-cylinder automatic transmission, Nissan truck I will buy it and then I will get rid of my 2022 Nissan frontier. Everybody’s facing hard times these days. Why should you have to spend $40,000 or more to get a smooth truck that’s easy to maintain. !!

    This truck is going to be a nightmare when it comes to mechanical issues. Years ago when I had my 1995 Nissan extended cab four-cylinder truck, I noticed the timing chain cover, was starting to leak oil. So I dug into it myself. I had another vehicle so I put the truck in the garage and I pull the engine apart which was really an easy task and I put new gaskets in the oil pan the time in chain cover in the valve, cover, and a new gasket for the water pump. I also put in a new hydraulic pressure foot to keep the timing chain tight and the engine was almost silent a prude like a kitten and it didn’t leak oil..

    The new trucks are extremely complicated and they do that on purpose so you have to bring it back to the shop personally I won’t have this truck that long the new one cause I’m in search right now for a 1995 all the way up to 1997, Nissan hardbody extended cab, 2 Wheel Dr. V6 automatic transmission

    I wish everybody the best I’m not trying to be negative. I’m just trying to be honest and truthful with the way I feel.

  6. Justin says:

    In its class if the HP and torque are that number provided in this article. It has more Than any other mid size truck after reviewing the Colorado and Tacoma. But with the hard body it will be not as fast 0-60, but when it’s going fast, it’s going fast. Top speed should be about 125-135 MPH. I’m excited they are going this route than all this aluminum alloy trucks are today.

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