Nissan Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6
Click image to enlarge

The Nissan Frontier SC 4X4 Crew Cab comes complete with compelling sport
truck features and a few compromises that many people looking for a ‘sport utility
truck’ won’t be prepared to make. But for its target testosterone driven market, it
is likely the Nissan Frontier SC 4X4 Crew Cab has all the right stuff.

 

See also Greg Wilson’s review of the Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6



The right stuff

Forget about ‘silky-smooth’, ‘car-like’, ‘whisper-quiet’, or ‘refined’. Save those
adjectives for the suburban off-road-wannabe SUVs. The Nissan Frontier 4X4
Crew Cab SC-V6 is none of the above.

It shifts with a kick, rides like a real truck, sounds like a one-man power-tool band
and looks as subtle as a boxing glove.

It has all the qualities truck lovers want in a truck – except perhaps a full-size box.

And it does not pretend to be something that it isn’t – except perhaps quick, which
it isn’t really despite a roots-type Eaton supercharger and 210 horsepower.

So the Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6 isn’t perfect. Maybe not. But it has all the
right stuff.

Let’s talk about noise for example. Take a bunch of mechanical noises and
jumble them all together and the result can be pretty gruesome. But separate the
sounds of the engine, exhaust and drivetrain, tune them so that they complement
each other and, to the ears of an enthusiast at least, you’ve got mechanical
symphony.

So it is with the Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6. There is that ever-present,
throaty exhaust note providing the base and the 3.3 litre SOHC V-6 moving
rhythmically through the power band. Then press on the pedal and add a little
high-pitched supercharger whine and wowee! We’ve got drivin’ music!

Of course, there is also a six-speaker 100-watt audio system with in-dash 6-disc
CD changer and steering wheel audio controls if you ever tire of the mechanical
tunes, but I would have to question your taste in music.

Nissan doesn’t expect to sell too many SC-V6 Crew Cabs to soccer moms. The
target demographic for this truck is young men aged 25 to 34 years old, mostly
single and mostly college graduates earning $50,000 or so.

And the Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6 has the looks, the motivation and the
utility to appeal to these young men.

Nissan Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6
Click image to enlarge

The look is tough and rugged. For 2001 the Frontier line of trucks receive an
aggressive looking face-lift that features a blunt front grille and bumper, tall
hoodline, oversized headlights and large fender flares featuring visible divot holes
and rivet-type caps.

The effect is provocative, even menacing if viewed from your rear-view mirror.
Nissan calls it “modern industrial” and says the inspiration for the design came
from “well-designed, top-of-the-line power tools.”

Additional enhancements include new fog lamps (based on the 2000 Maxima
lamps), new tailgate and standard tailgate lock. SC-V6 versions receive 17-inch
alloy wheels and huge P265/55 R17 all-season radials.

The tough, masculine look is carried under the hood where the 3.3 litre V-6 has
been topped off with a roots-style Eaton supercharger. Unlike other
superchargers and turbochargers that are usually buried in a mass of hoses to
the side of the engine, a roots sits on top of the intake – an imposing power
statement indeed.

The M62 Roots-type supercharger is factory-installed and fully warranted. With
the addition of the supercharger, Frontier’s 3.3-liter SOHC V6 produces 210
horsepower at a low 4,800 rpm and 231 ft-lbs of torque at 2,800 rpm, This is an
increase of 40 horsepower and 31 ft-lbs of torque over the naturally aspirated V6.

The key benefits of the supercharger include immediate throttle response,
increased torque across the complete engine operating range and, according to
Nissan, a relatively small effect on fuel economy (less than ten percent).

However, the SC uses premium fuel and in our admittedly lead-footed, real-world
testing, we recorded combined highway/city fuel consumption of 20.26 litres/100
kilometres, compared to Transport Canada’s combined city and highway fuel
consumption rating of 14 L/100 Km (21 miles per gallon).

The Eaton supercharger operates only under wide-open throttle conditions
(WOT), providing 6 to 7 psi of boost. Fuel pump flow rate has been increased
and fuel injectors have been enlarged by 80 percent for SC models to handle the
extra fuel needs under boost.

Obviously the expression “your mileage may vary” applies big-time to the Frontier
SC. If you want to hear the supercharger sing, you have to pay the price of
admission.

Despite the supercharger, off-line acceleration is not that great. The Automotive
Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), in testing for 2001 Truck of the Year
honours, recorded a 0-100 km/h time of 9.7 seconds, a full 1.2 seconds slower
than the Mazda B4000 that was also tested. But the effect of the supercharger is
more noticeable at full gait – the Frontier SC excelled at passing acceleration –
7.2 seconds from 80 to 120 km/h – faster than any truck tested this year.

Braking is also excellent. AJAC recorded a 100 km/h to 0 braking distance of
just 41.7 metres (137 feet), which was more than four metres better than any
truck tested, even better than such luxury SUVs as the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX4,
Mercedes-Benz ML55 and Volvo V70 Cross Country. Four-wheel ABS brakes
with vented discs in front and auto-adjusting drums in back are standard on
Frontier Crew Cabs.

The SC option is available on both 4X2 and 4X4 Frontier Crew Cabs. Our Crew
ab was equipped with the part-time four-wheel drive system with auto-locking
hubs. Shifting in and out of four-wheel-drive is smooth and easy with the floor
mounted shifter.

During our two mid-winter weeks with the Crew Cab, we didn’t have much
opportunity to go off-road, but on-road conditions – plenty of snow and ice – were
good enough to test the effectiveness – and necessity – of four-wheel-drive.

In two-wheel mode, the supercharged Frontier slipped and slid like a toboggan
on ice, due no doubt to a light rear end, fat tires and a sensitive throttle. But in
four-wheel high mode, the Frontier was a well-behaved winter performer. If you
are wondering if four-wheel-drive is worth the additional $3000, think of it as low
cost insurance.

Nissan’s Crew Cab is promoted as offering the seating room of an SUV and the
utility of a pick-up truck. True, there is seating for five inside and a pick-up box in
back. But there are also compromises.

Four doors have their advantages, allowing easier entry and exit. However,
space in back is limited – great for kids, but cramped for adults. The pick-up box,
at 143 cm, is 46.5 cm shorter than a Frontier King Cab. Nissan claims a cargo
volume within 15% of many extended cab model competitors, but the reality is
the bed is short, even with the optional fold out bed extender. This may be too
much of a compromise for some, but Nissan will soon have an answer for that –
the Frontier Crew Cab Long Bed, with a full-size 74.6 inch bed, will arrive later
this year.

2001 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab SC-V6
Interior shown in optional leather
Click image to enlarge

Though tough on the outside, the SC Crew Cab is gentle inside, with an interior
that is well-equipped and comfortable for driver and passenger. Supercharged
Crew Cabs have unique cloth seating surfaces with ‘SC’ markings and ‘SC’ floor
mats, a new leather-wrapped steering wheel that incorporates audio controls and
cruise control and special “titanium-look” gauges and interior trim. A roomy
centre console incorporates four cup-holders, two for the front and two for the
rear. Air conditioning is standard, as are power windows and door locks, remote
keyless entry, cruise control, tilt steering, variable intermittent wipers, tachometer
and digital clock in the radio.

Nissan’s Frontier SC 4X4 Crew Cab is available in two configurations. The base
4X4 at $31,998 also includes dual power outside mirrors, rear window defogger,
fog lights, heavy duty skid plates and tubular roof rack. For an additional $2,700
a Premium Package ads leather seating surfaces, anti-theft system, pop-up sun
roof and automatic transmission with overdrive, which increases towing capacity
to 2,269 kg (5000 lbs).

Standard safety features include dual front airbags, three-point seat belts with
pre-tensioners in outboard positions and provision for installation of a child safety
seat in the rear passenger area.

The Nissan Frontier SC 4X4 Crew Cab comes complete with compelling sport
truck features and a few compromises that many people looking for a ‘sport utility
truck’ won’t be prepared to make. But for its target testosterone driven market, it
is likely the Nissan Frontier SC 4X4 Crew Cab has all the right stuff.

See also Greg Wilson’s review of the Frontier 4X4 Crew Cab SC-V6


Technical Data:

Base price $28,998 (4X2)
Price as tested $31,998 (4X4)
Type 4-door, 5 passenger compact pickup
Layout longitudinal front engine/part-time 4WD
Engine 3.3 litre V6, supercharged, SOHC, OHV
Horsepower 210 @ 4800 rpm
Torque 231 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm
Transmission 5 speed manual (4 speed automatic)
Differential Limited slip
Tires P265/55 R17, all-season radials
Curb weight 1882 kg (4148 lb.)
GVWR 2359 kg (5200 lb.)
Payload 477 kg (1052 lb.)
Towing capacity 1588 kg (3500 lb)
Wheelbase 2949 mm (116.1 in.)
Length 5080 mm (200.0 in.)
Width 1809 mm (71.2 in.)
Height 1687 mm (66.4 in.)
Bed length 1430 mm (56.3 in.)
Fuel consumption City: 12.5 l/100 km (18 mpg)
  Hwy: 14.3 l/100 km (23 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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