With 40 years of experience in the compact pickup segment, Nissan is looking to its seventh-generation entry to carry forward the tradition. The all-new Nissan Frontier will be offered with a more powerful four-cylinder engine for '98, with a new V-6 due out next year (possibly shared with a brand-new SUV based on the Frontier platform). SAE ratings for the 16-valve, 2.4-liter dual-overhead cam I-4 are 143 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, and 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Although we didn't get the chance to run the Frontier on our '98 Pickup Truck of the Year, recently, we did drive it around the forested and mud-soaked trails outside Nashville. A newly boxed frame and softened front torsion-bar rates give the new compact a solid ride and handling advantage over the previous model. Inside, we like the fact that everything is bigger, with more legroom, headroom, and hip width.
As to that all-important (at least for four-cylinder engines) gearing, the new Frontier looks pretty good. All King Cab models come equipped with 4.38:1 axle gears, and the five-speed manual transmissions (the only transmission offered for '98) has a 3.32:1 First gear. And if the 2.02:1 low-range seems a tad tall to us, we found that the manual's low First made gearing workable on the trails we explored. An unusual plus is the presence of Warn manual hubs as standard equipment. These make for easy towing and maintenance. The classic lever-operated transfer case is another refreshing item to find in a compact pickup. The Frontier can be appreciated as a solid, affordable platform, making the best use of traditional 4x4 technology.
|Base Price (est.)||$17,000|
|Displacement (cc/cu. in.)||2392/146|
|SAE Hp @ rpm||143 @ 5,200|
|SAE Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm||154 @ 4,000|
|Valvetrain||DOHC; 4 val./cyl|
|Transfer case||2-spd. part-time|
|Axle gears||3.89:1 (Reg. Cab), 4.38:1 (King Cab)|
|Suspension, f/r||IFS, A-arms, torsion barsLive axle, leaf springs|
|Brakes, f/r||10.9-in. discs/11.6-in. drums|
|Towing capacity (lb.)||3,500|
|Ground clearance (in.)||9.3|