2022 Nissan Frontier
(Photos/Nissan Design America)

Hardbody for the Win: Nissan Unveils 3 Frontier Concepts in Chicago

Nissan says its three new Frontier Crew Cab concepts answer a growing demand for adventure-ready trucks. Two of the three variants call back to the heyday of iconic Nissan and Datsun rigs from the past.

The 2022 Nissan Frontier Project 72X, Project Hardbody, and Project Adventure seek to fulfill three different segments of an audience the automaker sees as rapidly diversifying.

“Truck culture is now very broad — hard-core off-roaders, overlanders, surfers and kayakers, environmentalists, fishing and hunting outdoor enthusiasts and more,” said Hiren Patel, project lead designer for Nissan Design America Inc.

“The common ground is that they all use their trucks as canvases for personalization. We’re offering three styles to show how they could modify their own new Frontier.”

The three concepts just debuted and will be on display at the Chicago Auto Show, which kicks off in the Windy City this weekend.

Each 2022 Frontier variant combines Nissan OEM and aftermarket parts and accessories, plus custom-designed elements and special graphics.

Project 72X: Datsun DNA

2022 Nissan Frontier

Nissan calls the Project 72X a modern take on the classic Datsun 720. Based on the 2022 Frontier Crew Cab S (base model) 4×4, it gets a 2.5-inch lift plus adjustable front upper suspension arms and a rear sport bar.

Matte white-painted steel wheels, which are actually 2022 Frontier spares, set it off.

The truck’s inspiration holds foundational status as a Nissan classic. The 720 was the first vehicle Nissan assembled in the United States when it rolled off a Tennessee assembly line in 1983. Called the “Lil Hustler,” it was a low-cost, spartan truck geared toward outdoor sports.

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Project Hardbody

2022 Nissan Frontier

Anyone familiar with Nissan truck lore will recognize the Hardbody’s roots. The original Nissan D21 “Hardbody” established itself as an off-road force in its prime.

According to Patel, the D21 is “still unmistakable on the road as a pure, modern design, even today.” The truck’s aggressive stance gave it a distinct visual signature; the double-wall bed, among other reinforcements, made it tough. It eventually became a champion in on- and off-road competitions and a staple on the Southern California beach.

The 2022 Project Hardbody uses a Frontier Crew Cab SV 4×4 platform. It sits on a 3-inch lift with adjustable upper control arms. The 33-inch tires are mounted on classic Hardbody block-style wheels, highlighted by fender flares from the current PRO-4X.

2022 Nissan Frontier

A bed-mounted spare tire carrier and sport bar with 10-inch LED lights boost the utility. And blacked-out graphics with ’80s-style shadow outlining provide a little ‘tude.

Project Adventure

The Project Adventure concept embodies Nissan’s take on overlanding.

2022 Nissan Frontier

A 2022 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X gets a monster 5-inch lift, plus 34-inch heavy lugged mud terrain tires. A Yakima roof rig houses an iKamper rooftop tent. The house-designed carbon fiber snorkel keeps it rolling through the deep stuff. And a Bluetooth KICKER audio system in the bed pumps the jams.

The fun body wrap graphics depict a U.S. road atlas.

2022 nissan frontier

To learn more about the 2022 Nissan Frontier, check out Nissan’s website. Check out each new Frontier concept in person at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show during its Feb. 12-21 run.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson is a staff writer at GearJunkie, and several other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about climbing, cycling, running, wildlife, outdoor policy, the outdoor industry, vehicles, and more for 2 years. Prior to GearJunkie, he owned and operated his own business before freelancing at GearHungry. Based in Austin, Texas, Anderson loves to climb, boulder, road bike, trail run, and frequent local watering holes (of both varieties).