The Long, Long, Long FrontierWhat's the major problem with compact Crew Cabs? Their puny beds. Nissan, which, against all odds, is profitable again, has sagely noted this and will do something about it in 2002 with the introduction of a new Crew Cab Long Bed version of the Frontier.
Nissan pioneered the little Crew Cab when it introduced the Frontier Crew Cab as a 2000 model, but found many buyers just couldn't contend with that truck's infinitesimal 56.3-inch-long bed. So the longbed version adds a full 18.3 inches to that to produce a 74.6-inch-long bed. That's exactly the same length as the bed on the extended King Cab version of the Frontier, comparable to the beds in the competition's extended cabbers, and much longer than any bed offered in any other compact crew cab.
The easy way to make the Long Bed would have been to just stretch the rear overhang and not even touch the frame. But instead, Nissan chose to re-engineer the frame with a 15-inch wheelbase stretch from the regular Crew Cab and Extra Cab's 116.1 inches to a lavishly limo-like 131.1 inches. That's just 1.9 inches shorter than the wheelbase of a fullsize longbed, Extended Cab GMC Sierra. Though at 211 inches total length, the Nissan is still 10.9 inches shorter than the GMC overall.
Though the bed is longer, the Crew Cab's cab is dimensionally unchanged. All of that wheelbase ought to smooth out the Frontier's ride motions somewhat, but it should also add weight to a truck that was already porkiest in class.
Beyond the availability of the super-stretch, the other big Frontier news for 2002 is the adoption of a new interior. There's a new instrument panel with three cockpit-style (As opposed to what? Nest style? Theater style? Strip club style?) round gauges and new ventilation controls. There is also a new console with an oh-so-exciting side map pocket, a 25 percent larger glovebox, and as many as three interior power points so that you can run a cell phone, a laptop computer, and a margarita mixer simultaneously. And in a concession that's 30 years late, the dash-mounted pull-and-twist parking brake is scuttled in favor of a pedal.
Drivetrains will remain unchanged on the 2002 Crew Cab with the SOHC 3.3L V-6 engine standard and a supercharged version optional. Expect the 2002 on sale this fall.
Weiner Attacks!Just when we thought we'd escaped Larry Weiner, he comes back and strikes at us again when we have space to fill in the news column! He's a tricky one, that Weiner.
Under construction at Weiner's Performance West Group is the Jeep Liberty Defender, which, the press release explains, is "Glistening in high-impact Chrome
Yellow, wearing protective Body Armorff,, and packing enough candlepower to light up the Rubicon Trail like Las Vegas at night. The DEFENDER is built in the legendary JEEP tradition: Tough inside and out, ready to go anywhere anytime!" We've contacted the authorities and are having the caps lock and exclamation point keys ripped off Weiner's computers. Also, we're declaring a one-year moratorium on the use of both the word glistening and the ff, trademark symbol in this magazine.
As has become de rigueur in Weinerworld, the Defender will use a Kenne Bell supercharger atop its powerplant. In this case, it means the screw-type compressor will be blowing into the new Jeep Liberty's also-new 3.7L, SOHC V-6. The company will also raise the suspension, bolt on big wheels and tires, pack on just as many aftermarket components as they can convince companies to participate. Then we'll get a bit press kit with every bit's and piece's brochure included in the familiar Performance West white folder.
Months and months and months later we might get to drive the thing after all the bugs are worked out. Or we might not. Weiner's got our number and he knows we're putty in his hands.
InIand Prerunners' Jumping Championship
When our pals at Inland Prerunners hold a club meeting, it's unlike anything you've ever seen. Not content to stand around bench racing and ogling all the trick rides, these enthusiasts take it to the dirt, launching their street-legal, race-inspired trucks from a man-made jump for distance and bragging rights. The club meets on the first Sunday of every month in Riverside, California, and plays host to more than 75 prerunner trucks. In addition, Inland Prerunners hold special Saturday and weekend meetings at SoCal off-road fabrication shops, such as Donohoe Racing, C&D Fabworks, and H&M Motorsports to promote the club as well as the sponsor shops.
The action shots shown on this page were supplied to us by Inland Prerunners, chronicling the club's recent Jumping Championships, which were held at the home of stuntman Chuck Strange. Inland Prerunners has a slick Web site, www.prerunners.com, that has action video, action still photos, links to prerunner parts suppliers and fabrication shops, and a whole lot more for prerunner fanatics.