A 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4x is shown from the front at an angle driving over a rocky outcrop after searching "Nissan dealer near me".

Exploring a New Frontier: Nissan’s Project 72X, Project Hardbody, and Project Adventure

Your search for a “Nissan dealer near me” might get a little more interesting in the near future, thanks to a series of Frontier concept trucks that Nissan unveiled at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. Named Project 72X, Project Hardbody, and Project Adventure, two of the concepts pay homage to the Frontier’s remarkable history in the North American automotive industry while the other looks to the future. So, how likely is it that these trucks will land at a Nissan dealership near you? That’s the million-dollar question.

An auto show is shown through a blurry filter.

A Blast from the Past

To truly appreciate the Frontier concept trucks requires a trip down memory lane to the late 1950s when Nissan introduced the compact truck to the North American market. The Datsun 220 made a lasting impression for its agility, efficiency, and capability, ultimately paving the way for the Datsun 520, the first half-ton compact pickup truck to take the road. The Datsun 620, the first long bed compact truck, followed a similar suit in 1975 and led to future models like the Datsun 720 of the 1980s until Nissan ushered its truck lineup into a new era of innovation with the debut of the Frontier in 1998.

Like its predecessors, the Frontier effortlessly balanced its compact size with exceptional capability and handling that made it a best-seller in the segment. Throughout its first generation (1998-2004), the truck also accomplished many firsts. The 2000 Frontier Crew Cab was the first compact pickup with four full-size forward-hinged doors, and the 2001 Frontier SC V6 was the first compact truck to roll off the production line with a supercharger under its hood. In 2002, the Frontier Crew Cab made history as the first compact truck to offer a bed longer than six feet.

These firsts set the stage for the second-generation Frontier, which debuted in 2005 with its revolutionary spray-in bed liner. Nissan, however, wasn’t as quick to update the Frontier during its second generation and made only minor improvements to the truck for the next 17 years. Updates to the Frontier’s size earned it a new classification as a mid-size truck, which was a welcome change since models like the 2020 Frontier offered a 310 horsepower engine that transformed the truck into an impressive powerhouse on wheels.

The Art of Patience: Waiting for a New Frontier

After 17 years, patience finally paid off for North American drivers when Nissan debuted the highly anticipated third-generation Frontier in 2022. Staying true to its heritage, the mid-size Frontier once again sets the standard for capability and innovation in the segment as the perfect-sized truck for every need. Its best-in-class 310 horsepower engine guarantees enough power to meet every demand, whether you’re navigating your commute, blazing a new trail, or towing a trailer.

With the truck nearly 20 years in the making, Nissan pulled out all the stops in the Frontier’s design, capability, and expansive suite of cutting-edge technology. Outfitted with shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive, the Frontier is ready for every adventure and will keep you connected, informed, and focused wherever that adventure leads. This is courtesy of state-of-the-art technology like the largest-in-class 23 cm colour touchscreen display with smartphone integration as well as an array of driver-assist and safety tools like Intelligent Forward Collision Warning and the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite.

The interior of a 2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4x is shown from the passenger seat.

The Excitement Continues: Frontier Concepts

While we had to wait nearly two decades for Nissan to update the Frontier, the automaker hasn’t wasted any time introducing new concepts of the best-selling truck. In early February, Nissan unveiled Project 72X, Project Hardbody, and Project Adventure, three concept designs that pay homage to the Frontier’s remarkable history in the Nissan lineup. So, what does this mean for the future of the Frontier?

Project 72X

A blast from the past, the Frontier Project 72X takes inspiration from the Datsun 720 that helped establish Nissan’s reputation in North America in the late 1970s. A spartan truck, the Datsun 720 was a huge milestone for Nissan because it was the first truck built on North American soil to avoid the increased tariffs or taxes on imported trucks during the time. Project 72X pays tribute to this and transforms the Frontier S into an old-school model complete with a simple gray exterior and vintage graphics along with a suspension lift and a bed-mounted sport bar.

Project Hardbody

The Frontier’s Project Hardbody concept takes us from the late 1970s into the 1980s and 1990s when the original Hardbody reigned king in Nissan’s truck lineup. Earning its name from its rigid bed, the Hardbody built a reputation for being a rugged and reliable workhorse. The Project Hardbody concept continues that reputation with its custom, three-spoke wheel design, unique gloss-black grille surround, exclusive badging, and full-size spare tire mounted in the bed.

Project Adventure

While Project 72X and Project Hardbody look to the past, the Frontier’s Project Adventure concept looks to the future and takes inspiration from the great outdoors. More and more drivers are looking for off-road capable trucks that can meet the demands of their workweek and match their sense of adventure on the weekend. Project Adventure is designed to do exactly that and so much more.

Based on the 2021 Frontier PRO-4X, Project Adventure adds a five-inch suspension lift and 34-inch mud tires for better ground clearance, approach, departure, and breakover angles, all of which are vital when you’re on the trail. The concept also features a custom body wrap and factory-installed snorkel, the former of which makes it instantly recognizable while the latter increases its water fording capability. Other updates include a bed rack system, rooftop tent, and roof basket, as well as an integrated Bluetooth audio system in the bed. With your camping gear always on board, you have the freedom to stop anywhere and stargaze with friends around the campfire.

From Concept to Production: What to Expect

While concepts like Project 72X, Project Hardbody, and Project Adventure are exciting and impressive, it’s impossible to say whether Nissan will put these models into production. For starters, the last update to the Frontier was nearly 20 years in the making, which leads many industry experts to believe that these concepts will remain exactly that, at least for the time being. However, there’s another side to consider, and that’s what these concept trucks mean for you and your search for a best-selling truck like the Frontier.

Think of these Frontier concepts as Nissan’s global Pinterest board. While they may not be models you can find today at your local Nissan dealer, they offer plenty of inspiration to take your Frontier to the next level. It’s like the Halloween decorations you’ve pinned to your Pinterest holiday board that will really take your front porch to Munster status. For example, Project Adventure shows you a great way to modify your Frontier for overlanding and trail-running with its suspension lift, rooftop tent, rack system, and snorkel. What’s even better is that you get to decide what modifications you want to make, which gives you more control over how much money you’re putting into your Frontier rather than paying a blanket price for every standard modification on a model like Project Adventure.

So, which Frontier concept inspires you the most? Do you love the old-school look of Project Hardbody and Project 72X, or are you drawn to Project Adventure and its ability to answer the call of the wild? Whatever it is, think of these concepts as inspiration for everything you can do with the Frontier and its exceptional reputation across North America as a capable and innovative road warrior that will meet and exceed all your expectations.