Nissan Frontier Concept Trio Aims to Improve Looks and Performance

Nissan just dropped a trio of concepts at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show that shows three different expressions of the new Frontier: one retro, one overlanding, and one that just flat-out tugs at our heartstrings. As a quick refresher, Nissan’s redesigned frontier launched in 2021 with a bold new look and the same midsize truck proportions that have made the successful model. The new Frontier comes in multiple grades, which top out with the top-of-the-line PRO-4X. All Frontiers come standard with Nissan’s excellent 3.8-liter DOHC V-6, featuring best-in-class 310 horsepower, and backed by a JATCO nine-speed automatic transmission. Here is an overview of the three Frontier concepts.

Project 72X Frontier

Using a base Frontier Crew Cab S 4×4 as a starting point, Nissan used the 1979 Datsun 720 as inspiration for this build. The 720 was a basic pickup that offered no-frills affordability and was aimed at outdoor enthusiasts. In 1983, production shifted to the Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee, and the 720 became the very first vehicle Nissan assembled in the United States.

Project 72X uses an understated gray exterior with retro graphics, augmented by white-painted steel wheels. These are the actual wheels that come with the Frontier’s spare tire and PRO-4X tires have been fitted to them. The retro vibe has been enhanced with Nissan’s sport bar and a 2.5-inch suspension lift with adjustable upper control arms.

Project Adventure

As soon as the first photos of the redesigned Nissan Frontier dropped, social media accounts were alive with photoshopped Frontiers sporting lifts, big tires, and overlanding accouterments. Nissan took it a step further by actually building such a pickup with the tasteful Project Adventure.

This 2022 Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X features a 5-inch Calmini lift with adjustable upper arms to clear 34-inch (285/75R17) BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 tires, and we think the stance is just right. With a wrap that features the entire US, Nissan is nudging you to take this truck somewhere, anywhere.

There are really well-executed touches, such as the carbon fiber snorkel that was hand laid and designed by the team at Nissan Design America (NDA) in La Jolla, California, and there are a slew of great parts from respected off-road and overlanding companies such as Yakima, iKamper, and RotoPaX, along with several Nissan accessories, like the Kicker tailgate audio system.

With this adventure-forward build, Nissan is showing that the aftermarket is embracing the Frontier and that the platform is up to the challenge of vehicle-based exploration. You can read more about it here.

Project Hardbody

By far, our favorite truck of the trio is Project Hardbody. Anyone of a certain age will immediately connect with the truck that many of us remember from our high school exploits. The tough, Southern California-designed, D21 bodystyle will forever be one of the best minitrucks in our minds and the Project Hardbody brings every one of those feelings back full-force.

From the second you lay eyes on it, you see and connect with the tri-spoke monoblock wheels, which were so unique and so different as to be iconic to the Hardbody itself. The wheels on the concept are not an exact reproduction but have been up-scaled into 17×8-inch rollers and are actually made from billet blanks and carved out on NDA’s CNC machine. The wheels are wrapped in an appropriately-sized 33-inch (285/70R17) BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 rubber and are so close to the originals in our minds that it’s hard to believe they aren’t the same wheels.

Other retro touches include the amber lenses, a blacked-out front fascia, and tasteful shadow graphics that have a yesterday vibe but are fully modern. Nissan also includes their sport bar with 10-inch rectangular Rigid LED off-road lights and a bed-mounted spare tire carrier to remind everyone of Nissan’s off-roading roots.

Project Hardbody started out as an SV-grade 2022 Frontier Crew Cab 4×4, but adds the PRO-4X fender flares, and a 3-inch suspension lift with adjustable upper control arms and a host of Nissan Accessories products.

Next Buzz Model?

While it’s no secret that manufacturers like to tease future buzz models or inform trends with one-off concepts, we definitely see production possibilities in this trio. Whether it is a bare bones 4×4 that is accessible to anyone, parts, such as the snorkel, that should be added to the accessory line, or a rugged truck that returns us to our youth, Nissan clearly has a plan here. If Nissan is listening and wants to know which one of these trucks we’d like to see a version of at the local dealer, it is Project Hardbody by a mile.

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