Cummins Powered Nissan Frontier

Nissan Frontier 'Diesel Runner' Concept

It seems both Nissan and Cummins are particularly comfortable with the partnership they began in 2010. First, the two companies, in correlation with the United States Department of Energy (DOE), sought to build a fuel sipping diesel mill for the Nissan Titan. The result was a 2.8L, 4 cylinder Cummins turbodiesel that seemed to have disappeared on the wake of news that Cummins would be providing a 5 liter V-8 diesel for the 2015 model year Titan. Now, the 2.8L I-4 has resurfaced, but not as a contender in the Titan, but rather Nissan's mid-size pickup, the Frontier.

In what appears to be a move to test consumer reaction, Nissan unveiled the 'Diesel Runner' concept at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Tucked neatly between the frame rails of a 4x2 Nissan Frontier, based on the brand's Desert Runner model, was a 2.8L, inline 4 cylinder turbodiesel backed by an 8 speed automatic transmission. Nissan proudly displayed the Cummins engine through a transparent Cummins 'C' logo incorporated into the hood. Additional aesthetic cues paid homage to the iconic Cummins powerplant, including a unique red and matte silver paint scheme. Should you happen to miss the iconic Cummins logo on the hood, the driver is met with a series of performance gauges neatly resting on the center of the dash as a reminder that this is no ordinary pickup. The 200 horsepower and 350+ lb-ft of torque that the engine delivers surely wouldn't go unnoticed either.

Fred Diaz, who previously held the position of CEO for Ram Trucks, was on scene as Nissan's VP of sales and marketing to help present the concept. Nissan estimates that the powertrain combination is capable of 35% better fuel economy than the current V-6 used to power the vehicle. Since the V-6 achieves 22 mpg on the highway, that would put the Frontier in the ballpark of 30 mpg. Though this is largely speculation, the concept is intriguing all the same.

Will the Diesel Runner become a reality, or this just a ploy to garter attention for Nissan's confirmed upcoming release of the 5.0L Cummins powered Titan? One thing's for sure, a diesel option for the Nissan Frontier would certainly stir up the mid-size market, which is currently dominated by Toyota's Tacoma pickup line.