The Nissan emblem is shown.

Nissan Concept Cars Are Pushing the Envelope

If you’re looking at a Nissan Frontier for sale at your local dealership, you’ll already be able to find plenty of off-road-ready features. This rugged midsize pickup can be had with Bilstein off-road shock absorbers to keep things smooth on bumpy trails, a locking rear differential for added traction when you need it, and special off-road gauges and camera views that give you the information you need to tackle any terrain. The Frontier also offers a good range of off-road accessories that can be used to customize the truck, like side steps, mud flaps, and a bed-mounted sport bar.

But a new concept car that brings the Frontier to a whole new level of all-terrain prowess recently premiered at the 2022 SEMA Show. Hosted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, this trade show gives automakers an opportunity to show off their latest innovations, giving us a sneak peek at what might be available to Canadian drivers in the future. The NISMO Off Road Frontier V8 concept, built by Forsberg Racing, customizes the Frontier with a number of modifications that work together to make it capable of some serious off-road performance. Let’s dive in and explore the details of this exciting concept and what it might mean for everyday Nissan owners down the line.

What Is NISMO?

NISMO is an abbreviation of Nissan Motorsport, and it’s essentially a division of Nissan that specializes in performance. In addition to designing race cars and parts for professional racing, the division creates vehicles and upgrades that are available to Canadian consumers. From practical upgrades to aesthetic touches, there are plenty of NISMO parts and accessories that are compatible with a range of Nissan vehicles, including the Frontier.

The NISMO Off Road Frontier V8: The Details

A Nissan Frontier may be at the heart of this concept, but it’s been modified with a number of new parts and accessories. While the 2023 Frontier is only available to the Canadian public with a V6 engine, Forsberg Racing has fitted its truck out with a 5.6L V8 from the recently discontinued full-size Nissan Titan to give it an extra boost of power. A custom NISMO cold air intake and a cat-back exhaust system were added to further increase the engine’s output.

The truck’s body was modified with a wide-track suspension which also uses some parts from the Titan to give the Frontier concept a wider stance. To make this work on the smaller truck, the concept employs a custom wide body kit and a prototype off-road front bumper from NISMO that improves the approach angle, making it better suited to crawling over boulders. Its height is also increased, thanks to NISMO/Bilstein coilovers and external reservoir shocks.

There are plenty of other NISMO parts and accessories that work together to make the concept rugged and ready for a variety of off-road activities. These parts range from a roof rack for carrying cargo and equipment to large wheels fitted with mud-terrain tires to off-road LED lighting that can create visibility in the dark wilderness. There are also some prototype NISMO parts onboard, like rock rails that protect vital underbody components from damage when rock crawling and in-bed spare wheel-and-tire carriers to give drivers the equipment they need to face the unexpected many rocky kilometres away from the nearest tire shop.

A red 2021 Nissan Frontier is shown driving on sand while off-roading.

What This Means for Truck Owners

While most everyday truck drivers don’t have the means to swap out their engines, this concept still holds a lot of promise for Frontier owners. Many of the parts and accessories used in the concept are fairly accessible and should be available at dealerships soon. Adventurous drivers who like to use their trucks to explore the great outdoors can see what these new parts look like in action and may consider using them to upgrade their own Frontier and make it more versatile and capable on a wide range of terrain types.

What Other Innovations Are Up Nissan’s Sleeve?

The Frontier concept isn’t the only thing that Nissan has been showing off at auto shows lately. In addition to the SEMA Show, the truck was also brought to the 2023 Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS), along with several other models. These vehicles ranged from the adventurous Pathfinder Rock Creek to the sporty Nissan Z.

While performance and rugged accessories are certainly two exciting examples of Nissan pushing the automotive envelope, the company is also innovating in the realm of EVs. For instance, Nissan displayed another concept at the CIAS: the Ariya Surfwagon. The Nissan Ariya is already a new and exciting vehicle in and of itself. This fully electric crossover debuted for the 2023 model year boasting up to 389 hp, the acceleration power to go from zero to 100 km/h in roughly five seconds, and a maximum range of 490 km with the available 91 kWh battery.

The Ariya Surfwagon concept, created by Tommy Pike Customs, evokes the image of a wood-panelled station wagon, complete with a custom roof rack that can hold two surfboards. This image shows drivers who may be reluctant to embrace an electric future that EVs can still pay homage to popular eras of automotive history. It also displays how Nissan’s EVs can be customized and modified to suit the personalities, lifestyles, and hobbies of various drivers. With white-wall tires, turquoise wheels that provide a pop of colour, and a custom-lowered suspension, the Surfwagon concept serves a final function that’s especially important at auto shows: looking cool.

A gray 2022 Nissan Frontier for sale is shown parked off-road.


Keeping Pace in a Changing Market

While many automakers have become more specialized over the years, Nissan seems content to cover a wide swath of shapes, sizes, and functions. Nissan vehicles run the gamut from sleek sports cars and commuter sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. This allows the brand to appeal to a wide variety of drivers but opens it up to the risk of spreading itself too thin. That’s part of why specialized divisions like NISMO are so important. Drivers looking for optimal performance and off-road prowess are catered to with a variety of vehicles, parts, and accessories that they can use to bring their driving to the next level.

The Frontier off-road concept shows that enthusiasts don’t have to settle for a vehicle as it is when it rolls off the production line. Even while sticking to factory-made parts, you can customize your truck to fit your exact preferences and needs. If you stick to level roads or just do some light off-roading, you can get a Frontier fresh off the assembly line and be perfectly satisfied. But if you want to head out to the tundra or an OHV trail and push your limits, then there’s plenty you can do to bring your truck to the next level.

Looking at this rugged off-road concept next to an exciting electric concept, we can’t help but wonder if the future will bring a combination of the two. Looking around at other companies, we can see that Jeep has already brought electric power to off-roading with the hybrid Wrangler 4xe, and Ford has the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning. While today’s exciting Nissan concept is powered by a gasoline V8 engine, it’s not much of a stretch to think that tomorrow’s concept may sport a hybrid system or even a fully electric powertrain. As trends and consumer demand shift, it will be interesting to see how an innovative company like Nissan keeps pace with the changing market. We’ll certainly continue to keep our eyes on what’s revealed at auto shows and conventions around the world.