2001 Frontier New Car Test Drive
More than four decades ago the 37-horsepower Datsun 1000 was the first Japanese compact truck to cross the ocean. Since then Nissan has continued to be the innovator in the class; in 1983 it was the first foreign manufacturer to build trucks in the U.S.
Nissan again blazed the path with the 2000 Frontier Crew Cab four-door pickup. Ford was also right there with the Explorer Sport Trac, and now Toyota and Chevrolet have followed with four-door compact pickups, the Tacoma and S-10.
But Nissan can't be caught that easily: The 2001 Frontier is dramatically restyled, and offers a supercharger. And the 2WD version, the model tested here, rides a bit lower; fitted with wide-profile tires, it feels more like a sports sedan with a bed in back. The 2001 Frontier line offers a lot of excitement.
All told, Frontier is available in 14 different configurations. It comes in three trim levels: XE, SE and SC. XE models come standard with the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, but offer the V6 as an option. Frontier prices start at $11,699 for a base 2WD XE with a four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual; you'll need to add another $999 to that figure, however, if you want air conditioning, which comes bundled with alloy wheels and an AM/FM/CD stereo in the XE Value Truck Package. An XE King Cab 4x2 retails for $13,649. Automatic transmissions add just over $1,000.
The SE is basically an XE with the Deluxe Package, including cruise control; tilt steering wheel; in-dash six-disc CD changer and steering wheel audio controls. Leather is optional with the SE, not available on XE; the SE comes with 16-inch wheels, XE with 15s. With the SC you can get it all, including 17-inch wheels and that supercharged engine delivering 40 more horsepower and 31 (manual transmission) or 46 (automatic) more foot-pounds of torque.
Also available are King Cab and Desert Runner models. An SE-V6 King Cab 4x4 retails for $20,699, while an XE-V6 4x2 Desert Runner is priced at $15,949. King Cab and Crew Cab models ride on a 116-inch wheelbase, while Regular Cabs ride on a 104.3-inch wheelbase.
Crew Cabs are available in XE, SE and SC trim in 2WD or 4WD. All Crew Cabs use the 3.3-liter SOHC V6 engine, with the SC having the factory-installed supercharger made by Eaton, a company with a lengthy history designing and building superchargers. This review focuses on the family-sized Crew Cab.