This past week I received for review a new Nissan pickup, the Frontier 4×4 four-door crew cab. Nissan, formerly Datsun, has been in business for 98 years (since 1914), and is now the sixth largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. The company name was derived from the three founders’ initials, DAT. “Sun” was added 17 years later when the company introduced a small car (son of DAT). “Son” means loss in Japanese, hence the name Datsun.
As mentioned in an earlier Nissan review, I actually owned a brand new 1971 Datsun pickup when I lived near Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the model 1600 and I don’t think it cost over $1,600 brand new. I bought it for going to the beach with surfboards loaded up in back, and a lot more cargo than that was necessary to mitigate the rough ride.
This Nissan pickup I tested was the Pro4X upgraded model with Bilstein performance shocks, triple skid plates (oil pan/fuel tank/transfer case), 16” machine-finished, six-spoke alloy wheels, locking rear differential, P265/75R16 BFG Rugged Trail T/A tires, hill descent/start controls, Rockford Fosgate 6-CD/XM satellite stereo, spray-on bedliner, Bluetooth phone, and special white-faced gauges. The Frontier pickup comes in a rear-wheel drive configuration, but the Pro4X is four-wheel drive.
The M.S.R.P. for the Pro4X is $31,275, including freight, floor mats, and Ipod interface. Power is supplied by a 4 liter, 261 horsepower V-6, backed up by a smooth, five-speed automatic transmission. Torque rating in this truck is 281 lb.- ft. The “VQ” series engine in the Frontier typically is listed among America’s ten best, according to Ward’s Autoworld magazine. The four-wheel drive is “shift on the fly”, up to 62 mph – 2 speed transfer case included. Weight of the vehicle is 4,360 lbs., and the wheelbase/length numbers are 125” and 205.5”, or just over 17 ft. long. The fuel economy figures are 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, with a 21.1 gallon tank. My observance for the week turned out to be 17.4 mpg.
I didn’t anticipate that the Frontier would offer such a comfortable ride and quiet cabin. After driving a bunch of CVT transmissions recently, I enjoyed the smooth five-speed automatic, and the vaunted V-6 performed a lot like a V-8. Nissan builds this Frontier with a fully-boxed frame and they provide 10” of ground clearance, factors helping the pickup when encountering the bumps and boulders. For my type of driving the 5’ bed keeps the vehicle manageable for maneuvering in traffic and parking.
The cloth seating featured black cloth with red trimwork as well as red stitching on the leather steering wheel. The buckets (driver side – eight adjustments) kept me comfortable all week and the floor shift and hand brake were sensible. No navigation or backup camera was present, and neither was a moon roof. Styling of the truck is fine, but I’d like to see it in black or red metallic.
Nissan has little competition in this mid-size pickup segment, so they get to enjoy brisk sales of the Frontier, although below that of the Toyota Tacoma. But they’ve gotten it just about right with this model since coming out with the second generation Frontier in 2005. In my opini0n, it would be a safe pick if I were in the market for a new pickup.