Rumors about the Cummins-Powered Nissan Frontier
The 2014 Chicago Auto Show may be the setting for Nissan to reveal whether they will be putting a new powertrain into their Frontier Desert Runner pickup truck. The word is that it will feature an all-new Cummins turbo diesel 2.8L inline four cylinder which would be a revolution for Nissan. The appearance at the motor show may be a test balloon for potential customers to gauge their reaction to having this type of engine in a midsize pickup.
The use of this particular engine is nothing new to Nissan itself as it has been used on two different versions of their Titan line of trucks made for the US Dept. of Energy and their ongoing study of the viability of a small, clean diesel for a light pickup truck.
The Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) project began in 2010 and has undergone several update with the latest occurring in the spring of 2013. ATLAS basically put smaller diesel engines in the Nissan Titan series and Nissan is now attempting the same for the Frontier version which is roughly 1,000 lbs lighter.
The Department of Energy reported that the fuel economy of around 26 mpg was achieved with the larger Titans that underwent this conversion. It can be assumed that the Frontier will be more successful since it is a much lighter vehicle. The torque ratings for the newer engines are rated at roughly 385 lbs – feet while generating about 200 horsepower.
For the Frontier, having a smaller turbo diesel engine makes more sense for a lighter-weight truck. GM believes that it will be the wave of the future as well since the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado also will have turbo diesel engines. However, a critical factor in all of this is the price of diesel fuel and the other additional costs that diesel engines bring as compared to standard gas engines.
In addition, the 2.8L I-4 Cummings engine is likely to weigh more than the all aluminum 4.0L V6, so it’s no wonder that Nissan chose to add a little more power to the platform of the Desert Runner. Nissan has stated that the smaller Cummings engine along with the ZF eight-speed transmission is not the easiest design, but it may reap considerable benefits in fuel economy which may be want consumers really want today.
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Photo credit: Nissan