The Nissan Frontier Desert Runner trim sits beneath the harder-core Pro-4X spec in the mid-size pickup’s lineup. It’s nothing special, the Desert Runner, just a Frontier with some off-road suspension bits and all-terrain tires. This Desert Runner, which Nissan brought to the L.A. auto show just weeks after putting it on display at the closed-to-the-public SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas, is hardly normal. If you couldn’t tell by looking at it, that is.
Under the hood, Nissan installed a 5.6-liter V-8 from the larger, full-size Titan pickup in place of the Frontier’s ancient 4.0-liter V-6. As if the bigger engine wasn’t enough of an add on its own, it was modified with a Garrett GTX3584RS turbocharger, a custom intercooler, Jim Wolf Technology camshafts, valves, and pistons, Anne an MA Motorsports turbo header and exhaust system. The result is a titanic 600 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque, output figures that eclipse a stock 5.6-liter’s by 200 horsepower and 287 lb-ft. For extra nerd points, the engine is hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission with a Jim Wolf Technology clutch and flywheel.
On the suspension front, this special Nissan Frontier Desert Runner gets a BTF long travel front suspension kit, king Racing Triple Bypass front and rear shocks, coilovers, Giant Motorsports Link Killer rear leaf springs, and Fifteen52 TurboMac HD wheels shod with BFGoodrich Baja all-terrain tires. Body changes include Fiberworks Pre Runner fenders and fabricated front and rear bumpers. There’s also a custom tire carrier and Rigid Industries off-road lights. Nissan also stripped the pickup’s interior and installed a coated floor, a MA Motorsports custom harness bar, Sparco harnesses, Sparco racing seats, and a Sparco steering wheel with a quick release steering wheel adapter.
Is there a point to this? Not really, other than to remind you, probably, that the Nissan Frontier still exists. The soon-to-be-replaced model is the oldest pickup in the mid-size segment—well, any pickup segment—by far, yet it remains a rugged, affordable piece. Now, apparently, it can also fit a Titan engine in it and be built out into an ultra-rad desert racer.
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