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The show truck's turbodiesel four gets a 35% fuel economy boost.

Nissan is testing the waters for a diesel-powered Frontier at the Chicago Auto Show. The striking one-off pickup is the first project to emerge from Nissan's partnership with Cummins announced last August.

Based on a Nissan Frontier Desert Runner 4x2 Crew Cab, the cleverly named Frontier Diesel Runner houses a Cummins 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder underhood. It's capable of generating approximately 200hp and a prodigious 350 lb-ft of torque (compared to 261hp and 281 lb-ft for the 4.0 V6), but the icing on the cake is its fuel economy, which increases by a whopping 35 percent over a V6 4x2 Frontier. If our calculations are correct, that's 22 city mpg and 30 highway mpg.

A ZF 8HP70 8-speed automatic offers three more gears than the existing transmission. Both payload and towing capacity are expected to remain similar to the current Fronty's abilities.

To highlight the new powerplant, the show truck's hood features a transparent acrylic window in the shape of the Cummins logo. The exterior is finished in Nissan's trademark red-on-silver motorsports colors, but this particular shade of crimson is officially called Arrest-Me Red and stands as a tribute to Cummins' iconic engine paint. Paired with Matte Silver, the theme is repeated throughout the truck, from its Frontier PRO-4X wheels to a diesel-specific three-gauge pod on the dashboard reminiscent of the Nissan Z.

Nissan says the Diesel Runner's purpose is purely to gauge customer reaction. The full-size Titan with a 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel V8 is still on track for release in 2015.

Live images by Mark Elias.