SPIED: 2019 Nissan Frontier Crash Test Mule?
NP300-Based Tester Endured 40-MPH Offset Bash
Nissan remains mum on the future of the U.S.-market Frontier midsize pickup, even as markets around the world receive a new pickup in the form of the NP300 Navara. To that end, it’s a relatively common assumption the NP300 will form the basis of the next-generation Frontier, and a recent crash test mule seen trundling around Michigan only furthers that suspicion.
Inspecting the truck closely reveals a few things. One, this vehicle wears NP300 Frontier badging that matches that of the Mexican-market Nissan midsize pickup. Two, badgeplates on either side of the truck read “LH ODB, 64 KM/H LNCAP,” which decodes to a left-hand offset collision with a deformable barrier at 64 km/h, conforming to the worldwide New Car Assessment Program’s test procedures.
That speed (40 mph) and type of collision are nearly identical to the way in which the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests vehicle safety in the moderate offset front collision. The similarity (and the test date from last month) begs the question: Is Nissan preparing the NP300 Navara/Frontier for United States consumption by crash testing it according to this market’s most common metrics?
Also spotted this weekend in Michican was an NP300 pickup featuring conspicuous diesel badging. Sitting parked next to a current-generation Frontier, the NP300 might be a running, driving test mule to gauge the viability of a diesel-powered midsize Nissan as an offering for the U.S. market.
Another curiosity was a heavily camouflaged Renault Alaskan seen in Detroit. The Alaskan shares most of its mechanicals and body structure with the Nissan NP300 Navara/Frontier, so Nissan might be using the Renault-badged pickup to evaluate the platform. We doubt the truck’s presence here is indicative of a plan to reintroduce the Renault brand to our market, but you never know.
Given Nissan’s current truck lineup and that the crashed truck was tested in February 2017, we anticipate the company to make a formal announcement regarding the future Nissan Frontier by the end of the year, with a new pickup at dealers in late 2018 for the 2019 model year. Such timing would correlate with Ford’s release of the 2019 Ranger, helping revitalize the midsize truck market almost completely.
Your move, Ram.
Source: KGP Photography