A bold exterior restyling and more power are the big changes this year for the Frontier, Nissans compact pickup.
A massive bumper that Nissan says resembles a big boxing glove dominates the front end, and the bumper and the prominent fender flares appear bolted on for what Nissan describes as a more mechanical look. Only the doors and windows are carried over from last year.
The Frontiers 3.3-liter V-6 engine is now available with a power-boosting supercharger. The restyling includes a raised hood to provide room for the supercharger.
The 2000 Frontier Crew Cab was the first pickup to come with four conventional, front-hinged doors a feature several rivals offer for 2001. The Frontier is built at Nissans Smyrna, Tenn., plant.
The Frontier comes in three body styles. The regular cab has a 6.5-foot cargo bed, the King Cab (extended cab) sports a 6.3-foot bed and the four-door crew cab comes with a 4.7-foot bed. The King Cab does not have rear doors.
Seats for five is the maximum in the Frontier. King Cabs come with either a three-place split front bench seat or two buckets, along with two folding jump seats in the rear. The Crew Cab has front buckets and a three-place rear bench. A bench seat is standard on the regular cab, and buckets are optional.
The rear doors on the Crew Cab are large enough for easy entry and exit, but the rear seat is hardly limousine-like in room. Tall occupants are squeezed for leg space, and the seatback is too upright to lounge.
Under the Hood
A 143-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder is the base engine. A 3.3-liter V-6 with 170 hp is available as a step up in performance. Both are available with manual or automatic transmissions.
The new supercharged 3.3-liter V-6 packs 210 hp with the automatic transmission and 231 hp with the manual. These features are available on the King Cab and Crew Cab.
The Frontiers four-wheel-drive system can be engaged at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour through a floor-mounted shift lever. Four-wheel-drive models with the four-cylinder engine have manual front hubs that have to be engaged or disengaged by hand while the vehicle is stopped; V-6 models have automatic front hubs. Most other compact pickups allow shifting in or out of 4WD High at any road speed, and some also offer push-button engagement.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard on Crew Cab models. All others come with rear antilock brakes.
Nissan jumped ahead of the herd with the Frontier Crew Cab. But now there is ample competition from General Motors, Dodge and Toyota, and most of their four-door pickups are roomier and more refined. The Frontiers engines are noisy and rough, and the four-wheel-drive system is not as convenient as those offered by others.
Stiff competition from other brands means hefty discounts are likely on all versions, including the Crew Cab.