Skip to main content

Nissan and Cummins unveil a diesel-powered Frontier pickup ‘project’

In the automotive world, Cummins is known for the hulking diesel engines it installs in massive Ram pickup trucks, so Sam Elliott can talk about them in a voice as rough as their exhaust notes.

However, at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, a Cummins engine was found under the hood of a different kind of truck.

The “Frontier Diesel Runner Powered By Cummins” is a Nissan Frontier pickup that’s gone over to the compression-ignition side. Nissan calls it a “project”, not a concept, and says it hopes to gauge consumer interest regarding a diesel engine for the next-generation Frontier.

So there won’t be a diesel in this generation of Frontier, which is due to be replaced soon, and the truck sitting on the Chicago show floor doesn’t foreshadow its replacement in any way. That’s why it’s a project.

The engine itself is a 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces an estimated 200 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. It’s coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

However, the really important numbers here involve fuel economy, which would be the main advantage of a diesel-powered small truck. Replacing a gasoline engine with a smaller diesel certainly worked for the full-size Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which gets an impressive 28 mpg highway.

In fact, the collaboration between Nissan and Cummins started out under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy. As part of the ongoing Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) program, Cummins put four-cylinder diesels in Nissan Titan trucks, which serve as testbeds for future small diesel engines like the one in the Frontier project truck.

So while it may look like it crashed into a Pep Boys, this Frontier could give Nissan an edge in the compact-truck segment, which has come a long way from the Datsun 720 King Cab. The arrival of the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado (which sports a diesel engine of its own) means Nissan can’t rest on its laurels anymore.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
The Tesla Model Y is far from my favorite EV, but I’m pretty close to buying one
Tesla Model Y One Millionth Car

I may finally be on my way toward buying my first EV. Sure, I've tested dozens of electric car models over the years, but despite that (or perhaps because of it), I have yet to buy one. But my family is growing, and my wife and I aren't so sure about carting our future kids around in an aging car that lacks the safety features of modern vehicles.

Because of the fact that we're expecting our kid in January, we have a bit of a deadline. So what are we leaning toward? Well, despite the fact that it's far from my favorite EV, we may actually end up just getting a Model Y.
Timing makes a difference
If the baby was coming along in a year's time, things might be completely different. There are a few reasons for that.

Read more
Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally kicks up some dirt
Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally driving on a dirt road.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV pushed the hallowed Mustang nameplate in a different direction, and it's doing that again with a new performance variant. Debuting in 2024, the Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally is designed for fun on both pavement and dirt.

Rallying is a form of motorsport where drivers compete to set the quickest time over a course — usually a closed road or trail — rather than a dedicated racetrack that includes a variety of surfaces like dirt, gravel, or even snow. Rallying has inspired some epic performance road cars over the years, including the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and Ford's own Focus RS, but it's never really been associated with the Mustang.

Read more
BMW scraps its unpopular approach to heated seats
Driver's seat and dashboard of the 2023 BMW iX M60.

BMW caused much consternation last year when it launched a subscription-only option for heated car seats.

The idea of having to pay a monthly fee of $18 to keep your posterior warm during the winter months still seems as absurd as ever, but the good news is that the German automaker has now decided to scrap the fee. What particularly irked customers was that they felt they were being forced to cough up extra for functions that would previously have been expected as standard. The fiasco even prompted a community of hackers to offer their services to unlock the feature for those unwilling to pay extra for it.

Read more