New Car/Review


Nissan Frontier Crew Cab SC (2001)

SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 25,099
     Price As Tested                                    $ 27,785
     Engine Type SOHC 12-valve 3.3 Liter Supercharged V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 200 cid/ 3275cc
     Horsepower                                   210 @ 4800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               246 @ 2800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  116.1"/71.9"/200.0"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4383 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.4 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                    P265/55R17 performance tire
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 55 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            15/18/17
     0-60 MPH                                        9.0 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                         950 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

("The Datsun pickup of '59 was a lightweight hauler that had one speed - slow," says Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin says the new supercharged Nissan Frontier isn't his father's Datsun.)

MATT - Until it can get a V8-powered pickup on line to challenge its muscular competition, Nissan has to rely on its tried and true 3.3-liter V6 to be the standard-bearer for the line. In the world of cost-effective automotive engine manufacturing, there's very few substitutes for cubic inches of displacement. One of those is supercharging. By cramming extra air and fuel into the cylinders of its relatively small single-cam V6 engine under seven pounds of pressure, Nissan engineers boosted its power up from 170 horses and 200 pound/feet of torque to 210 and 264 respectively. The supercharger is a belt- driven, positive-displacement Roots-type, which means that its boost works immediately, without the lag-time that's common with turbochargers, which require exhaust gas flow to get them pumping. The torque value is raised even more dramatically, which explains its 5000-pound towing capacity. All the new Frontier body configurations can be had with this supercharged V6 and they're designated as SC models.

BOB - This Crew Cab version is a new breed of pickup that in essence lops off the back of a four-door sport/utility vehicle and grafts on a relatively small steel bed for carting gardening supplies and groceries. It can also carry another couple of passengers in back of the front seats. And having their own doors, they don't have to crawl over pulled-forward front buckets to climb aboard. Rear leg room is gained at the sacrifice of 20 inches of bed length from the standard Frontier pickup. The Frontier Crew Cab was built as a family-hauler with occasional duty as lightweight pickup, not as a utilitarian commercial vehicle.

MATT - But for those occasions when something long like 4-by-8 fence posts, our unit had the optional bed extender but at $309 extra, a guy would have to haul a lot of lumber. The Frontier line of trucks is pretty much the same vehicle that first appeared in 2000, but the company has spruced up the sheet metal to have a more rugged "he-man" image. Nissan has targeted drivers 25 to 34 years old and expects 80-percent of them to be male, with 60-percent of those being single and 60-percent to be college grads. They're expected to have an average household income of $52,000 per year. I guess Nissan hasn't targeted old guys like you, right?

BOB - Obviously not, Matt. Nissan promotion calls the new body work "industrial-strength" and alludes to it as a Big-Rig look, which is not my style. The 4-by-4 versions like our SC have true off-road capacities since they have a button-operated front wheel drive engagement and a transfer case for low-speed, high-torque rock crawling. All supercharged Frontiers use limited slip differentials in back to help avoid wheel spin and if the rocks are bigger than expected, our Crew Cab was equipped with standard skid plates under the engine and fuel tank. It also had a tubular roof rack, which barely clears the pop-up moonroof. The ride is very car-like in spite of the fact that the suspension is conventional "truck" with A-Arms and coil springs up front and a solid axle in back hung on leaf springs. Although it has anti-lock brakes all around, the brakes in back are vintage drum units.

MATT - The wheels and tires are pretty fancy and not designed for much of that rock-crawling. They're P265/55Rs on 17-inch alloy wheels which seem better suit to boulevard cruising or straightening out fast mountain curves. There are 14 different Frontiers models that range from the plebeian regular cab with a regular bed and a 2.4-liter four- cylinder engine, to the hot-rod supercharged version like our test truck. The four-banger only puts out 145 ponies, but it's good enough for a family guy who needs a fuel efficient commuter "car" that can be useful around the house on the weekend.

BOB - That too would leave me out, Matt, since I've never been considered very useful around the house.


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