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Nissan reveals Frontier Diesel Runner with 2.8L Cummins turbo diesel; leveraging ATLAS engine program

Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins. Click to enlarge.

At the Chicago Auto Show, Nissan debuted a concept diesel-powered mid-size pickup: the Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins. Based on a Frontier Desert Runner 4x2 model, was created to gauge the market reaction to a Nissan mid-size pickup with a diesel engine and plot a potential future direction for the Frontier.

The Frontier Diesel Runner arrives six months after the announcement of a partnership with Cummins Inc. to provide a 5.0-liter turbo diesel V8 in the next-generation Titan full-size pickup, which will arrive in calendar year 2015. (Earlier post.)

The Frontier Diesel Runner is powered by a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine producing nearly 200 hp (149) and more than 350 lb-ft (475 N·m) of torque, while increasing fuel economy 35% over a gasoline V6-powered 2014 Frontier 4x2.

Backed by a ZF 8HP70 8-speed automatic transmission, the two-wheel drive diesel is expected to offer payload and towing capacity are expected in range of that offered by the V6-powered Frontier. Nissan and Cummins have also built a separate development vehicle that is currently undergoing rigorous real-world testing.

ATLAS. Collaboration between Nissan and Cummins stems back to a US Department of Energy project called ATLAS (Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems) which began in 2010. (Earlier post.) ATLAS is targeting a Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions compliant diesel for application in a light duty pickup, along with a 40% fuel economy improvement over current gasoline V8 powered half-ton pickups. Tier 2 Bin 2 requirements are only slightly less stringent than the CARB LEVIII-SULEV20 requirements.

The baseline engine for the work was a Euro IV-compliant inline 4-cylinder 2.8L diesel equipped with a single-stage wastegate turbocharger and generating 160 hp (119 kW) of power and 265 lb-ft (359 N·m) of torque, with a compression ratio of 16.9:1.

At last year’s SAE World Congress, Cummins discussed key engine technology enablers—including air-handling, fuel system, and base engine design—and development of the combustion system that will help in achieving the target emission levels and fuel economy.

Subsequently, at the US Department of Energy (DOE) Merit Reviews in May, Michael Ruth from Cummins noted that the 2.8L ATLAS engine makes extensive use of aluminium as well as space saving design features, resulting in a 362 lb ATLAS engine compared to the 480 lb production 2.8L engine. Cummins also integrated learnings from low-temperature diesel and Light Duty Efficient Clean Combustion (LDECC) programs to utilize PCCI (Premixed Charge Compression Ignition) and high charge flow operation.

By January 2013, the new ATLAS engine was delivering 350 ft-lb (475 N·m) at 2000 rpm and 210 hp (157 kW) at 3200-3600 rpm. The ATLAS program runs through the end of this year.

Over the course of ATLAS, Cummins installed 4-cylinder engines into two Nissan Titan trucks as an ongoing platform for its research on the next-generation of 4-cylinder automotive clean diesel engines. Research compiled during the ATLAS program helped to shape the Cummins engine used in the Frontier Diesel Runner project.

The Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins was designed by Nissan Design America in San Diego, CA in conjunction with Nissan Global Design Center in Atsugi, Japan.



Ridiculous over sized engine.

Marshall Taylor

This should be a 2.0L diesel making >= 150HP and >= 250 ft*lbs of torque, but either way, I hope this gets released in the US. We are starved for mid size diesel pickups!


This is great, I would love to see more small and midsized trucks with diesel engines. If my F-150 ever passes away, this would be high on my list to replace it with.


It's not an oversized engine if you need the torque. If you don't need the torque, you can get a much cheaper 4 cylinder gasoline Frontier.


Hopefully Cummins figured out a way to avoid the use of SCR, but my guess is they will be stuck with the SCR disaster. Talk about needless regulation...

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