2004 Nissan Frontier V6 4x4 SE 3.3 V6 SOHC from North America
A do it all that needs refining
Nissan's reputation of building tough as nails vehicles is only marred by it's spotty QC control. As such this frontier feels like it will last forever. It's relativity new at 10K klicks with the engine not broken in yet... Nissan suggests 15-20k for the VG33 series SOHC engines. This is very useful concept... a fair sized bed at 74 inches with 4 drs and 2 rows of seats. A do it all that can go off road and serve as a daily use in town. The front seats are comfortable and supportive and the rear seats are OK if the fronts are jammed all the way up... not that that's ever going happen... So instead of increasing the length of the ladder frame and making a decent size cabin while retaining the bed size, Nissan decided to cut corners and squeeze the cabin and shortchange the customer. Toyota and Dodge went the other way by having a better cabin, but leaving the bed much shorter which isn't useful either. The concept of a fullsize cabin with a long bed seems alien to virtually all the manufacturers (probably because such a compact truck would cannablize sales of the 1/2 ton truck range).
Even worse the quality of materials on the Nissan is at best average with the paint job being the worst offender. I have seen better paint jobs on domestic trucks. In addition, the truck is heavier than most compact trucks and with a 180HP SOHC, it feels like a wet dog on asthma. Sounds like one too.
I had the opportunity to drive a Mazda3 hatch recently with 160HP and a stick shift and that felt like a little Formula racer when compared to this big Dodo. The hard suspension is livable and is much better when the bed is carrying something. The brakes seems mushy and have little or no feedback as to what is happening. It is clearly a truck that belonged to the last generation gussied up so it could hide shortcomings in its basic engineering design.
Before I bought it I knew most of its shortcomings of poor performance, tight rear legroom and average quality... and before you ask why I still ended up with it let me explain. I wanted a crew cab with a long bed without the payload and carrying capacity of a 1/2 or 3/4 ton (or the cost). Right then the choices were limited to the Tacoma Crewcab or the Dakota Crewcab. In each case the Crewcab's do not have a long bed (2005 Taco does though..), so by default the Nissan remained as the only one that fuilled the spec sheet. Winning by default rather than by merit.
It is good looking truck that will, by basic maintenance last a long time given Nissan's solid engineering abilities (if only they had Toyota or Honda's QC this would be a much better truck). Additionally it is much cheaper than a comparably loaded Taco CrewCab (even more so when compared with the 2005 CrewCab Taco) and almost the same when compared with the Dakota CrewCab.
Mileage varies significantly depending on driving habits (350-450klicks on 60 litres of regular). Because average performance on daily driving demands a heavier than normal throttle (this thing is so underpowered) the engine has to worked hard. The mileage goes to hell. On the other when you plan your daily drive, time your braking and smoothen out accelaration habits I have been able to get 450 klicks out of a engine that has not been broken in yet. So in other words this a guzzler (not like the Suburbans or Ford SuperHeavy Duty's or the big trucks, but much better either). So far I have not seen any wear on anything which bodes well for the longevity and for me as I intend to keep it for a ling time. Last week I had the opportunity to drive the new Tacoma CrewCab with long bed and was mighty impressed with its engine and smooth shifting transmission as well as fit and finish. The only area of complaint I can see is that it 10K more than a comparable Nissan Frontier or 11-12K more than a Dakota CrewCab.
I can sure see Toyota selling a whole of these and even might change my mind about the this new truck if my current Frontier does start giving me problems.
Hope this review helps anyone looking to buy a 2004 CrewCab.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st November, 2004