I always resisted the 2.2 Ecotec engine, as I knew that it's not as bulletproof as the larger units, diesels or the single cam 8 valve Sport. One of the first things I did was whip off the cambelt cover and have a look. As it was everything was new, - the belt, the two plastic runners and the adjustable runner. I also checked the water pump for squeal etc. The plastic runners will kill your car if they disintegrate! It's as simple as that! Also checked and changed the large serpentine drive belt, as I've heard of one of these snapping and slicing open the cambelt cover, and bringing the cambelt off.
Checked online to see if any advisory notices were given on the car during its last MOT test. They were slight corrosion of fuel and brake pipes and minute leak on the exhaust (so quite pleased about that, - as no problems rescuing those pipes from getting worse!). This car had an unusually high back end for a 1998. No wonder, it's never had a tow bar fitted, so no catering trailers, horseboxes or caravans. Shock absorbers perfect and rear diff. completely silent.
We only travel very small mileages in our cars, we are both turned 50 so insurance is peanuts. In addition I can do most jobs on these cars myself. So you take your chances as with any car.
I've always found Fronteras a brilliant rigid framed offroader, and a reassuringly safe car to drive in heavy traffic. The visibility is wonderful, the heaters are magnificent, and the load carrying capacity of the LWB is simply stupendous!
As a final note I would advise you do shop very carefully for these cars though, as some (many?) of them have led very, very hard lives! The galvanised bodies still look terrific even on very early models, but you do need to get underneath and check the chassis and pipes for corrosion. Also check the hi/lo 4x4 settings are ok (yes, they will lock up on tarmac, that is normal!); check for oil trails, oil leaks, check the ground where the car is normally parked; check for excess wear and pitting on the brake discs (although they are cheap to replace by 4x4 standards); get yourself a Haynes Manual and get your hands dirty! Buy with your head and not your heart, as there will always be another one!