The retro special edition tightrope is a tricky one to walk. Fall off, and you could get something insincere. Stay on, and you could have a minor hit like the Ford F-150 Heritage Edition. However, it turns out that there’s another way of traversing it — Nissan figured out how to do backflips on it. The 2024 Nissan Frontier Hardbody Edition throws things back to the 1980s in the best way possible as a tribute to the iconic Nissan Hardbody pickup, and I wholeheartedly adore it.
Back in the 1980s, Nissan was looking to replace the 720 pickup truck with something a little more evocative. The name chosen in America? Hardbody, probably chosen because it was a chiseled, tough-as-nails sex machine of a small pickup truck. Back in the day, it was the most handsome small truck on the market. These days, if you park an immaculate Hardbody next to the latest Ferrari, nobody will give a glance to the prancing horse. It’s just a damn good-looking, damn hardworking truck that I cannot say enough good things about. When you have an icon like this in your back catalog, it only makes sense to revive it.
The anchors of the 2024 Nissan Frontier Hardbody Edition are undoubtedly the amazing set of three-spoke alloy wheels, period-correct in style yet upsized to fit modern all-terrain rubber. This truck could’ve been a bust if Nissan didn’t commit to the wheel bit, but the follow-through here is impeccable. Adding to the ’80s flare is a tough set of flares and a skid plate, while the tubular design of the old-school sport bar in the bed is mirrored perfectly in the rock rails bolted to either side of the truck. Topping it all off is a blacked-out front end and a wicked set of graphics, because graphics were the absolute shit back in the 1980s. It all adds up to a truck with off-road looks that eschews tactical machismo for a bit of lighthearted fun. If there’s one thing the world could use more of in 2023, it’s lighthearted fun.
Of course, it also helps that the new Nissan Frontier is surprisingly good. Between the historically decent VQ family engine, minimal stuff to break, and solid construction, I feel like this is one truck that will last and last. A lack of turbochargers, hybrid assistance, and most other newfangled contraptions should satiate buyers looking for a stress-free long-term automotive relationship. Of course, the jury’s still out on the new nine-speed automatic transmission, but psychological security makes dropping serious coin on a new truck easier.
However, there’s sure to be contention over just how much coin Nissan is charging for the Frontier Hardbody. The automaker may have started with the relatively affordable SV trim, but this package adds $3,890 to a one-step-up-from-base 4×4 crew cab Frontier. Total price? $42,095 including a $1,335 freight charge. Yep, the Hardbody Edition is the second-most-expensive Frontier for the 2024 model year despite its utilitarian styling.
Yes, unique wheels are expensive to design, engineer, and make to OEM standards, but all the vinyl graphics can’t have cost an arm and a leg. In addition, the sport bar and mud flaps are already available from Nissan dealerships for every Frontier, and margins on accessories are often cushy. Nissan will need to find a very specific sort of buyer for this truck, but that might not be an issue.
Goddamn, if this isn’t a good-looking truck, I don’t know what is. It just hits all the right nostalgic spots including that anxiety-caused tightness in your neck you didn’t even realize you had. Suddenly, I have a craving for Frutopia and Dunkaroos, miss G4 more than usual, and want to throw on some Sum 41. I’m not old enough to have ‘80s nostalgia, but Nissan Hardbody trucks were everywhere in the 2000s and they absolutely ruled. Sure, putting on the rose-tinted glasses of cherry-picked memories is a cheap drug, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work sometimes. The 2024 Nissan Frontier Hardbody Edition is awesome, and I hope Nissan sells so many that it become a permanent trim.
(Photo credits: Nissan)
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