After a cold, rainy spring morning spent in futile pursuit of the wary wild turkey, my hunting buddies debated ideal vehicle configurations over lunch. Strangely, the one who drove a sport/utility vehicle argued in favor of pickups, saying he hated to have muddy waders, wet dogs, and fresh game-specifically wild hogs-in the vehicle with him. The pickup owner pointed out how he likes SUVs because they have real rear seats and not the torture racks common in extended-cab pickups. Both demanded a svelte package to tackle narrow paths on their mountainous ranch.
The answer for both just might be Nissan's Frontier Crew Cab. Think of it as either an SUV with a short pickup bed grafted on or, more accurate, a pickup with an SUV's rear seat sectioned in. Knowing that neither SUV nor pickup fully suits the needs of those hauling everything from personal watercraft to mountain bikes to duck decoys, Nissan has introduced what it says is the first compact pickup with four front-hinged doors. Others like this idea, too: Ford, at least, will soon unveil a bobtail four-door F-150.
To keep the Crew Cab about the same length as a King Cab Frontier (it's actually 3.0 inches shorter), its 4.5-foot bed is bed is 18 inches shorter than that of a standard Frontier. That means even with the optional bed extender some of the biggest toys may not fit. Lighter gear can go on the optional tubular roof rack, which will accept Yakima attachments for skis, snowboards, kayaks, or cargo carrier.
While much more comfortable than most extended-cab rear seats, the three-person aft bench isn't exactly commodious: You have to watch your head on entry and full-size adults will find the accommodations a bit tight for long drives. Also, there's virtually no storage behind the rear seat. Unladen ride is more pickup-rough than SUV-smooth, with chassis flex notable on uneven pavement. The Crew Cab is available in either two- or four-wheel-drive configurations. Both are constructed on the heavy-duty 4WD Frontier chassis in Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee, plant.
Power comes from the same 3.3-liter/170-horse SOHC V-6 that appears in other Frontiers. It makes an impressive 180 pound-feet of torque-90 percent of its peak rating-at just 1500 rpm. Acceleration from our 2WD, four-speed-automatic-equipped tester wasn't exactly neck-snapping: 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds . ABS is standard and helped produce a very-good-for-a-pickup 129-foot 60-0-mph stopping distance. Towing capacity is a hefty 5000 pounds with four-speed automatic-equipped variants or 3500 with the manual. A limited-slip differential is available on 4WD models.
If your weekend pursuits leave you with wet, muddy, dirty, or smelly things to drag home (that aren't too big for its little bed), the affordably priced Frontier Crew Cab may be the answer.
|Vehicle configuration ||Front engine, 4WD, four-door, five-pass. |
|Engine configuration ||V-6, SOHC, 2 valves/cyl. |
|Displacement, ci/cc ||199.9/3275 |
|Horsepower, hp@rpm, SAE net ||170 @ 4800 |
|Torque, lb-ft @rpm, SAE net ||200 @ 2800 |
|Transmission type ||4-speed automatic |
|Wheelbase, in./mm ||116.1/2949 |
|Base curb weight, lb ||3847 |
|Acceleration, 0-60 mph, sec ||9.2 |
|Standing quarter mile, sec/mph ||17.2/78.7 |
|Braking, 60-0 mph, ft ||129 |
|Lateral acceleration, g ||0.72 |
|Speed through 600-ft slalom, mph ||58.4 |
|EPA fuel economy, mpg, city/hwy ||16/19 |
|Base price ||$17,500 (est.) |