2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4; photo by Bob McHugh
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4; photo by Bob McHugh; Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery: 2007 Nissan Frontier

When it comes to trucks, there is no worse realization than the discovery that you haven’t bought enough truck to do the job. If the only “job” intended for your oversized-tire behemoth is to sit in the driveway of your subdivision and look pretty, now would be a good time to pop your brain into Neutral. I’ve never been one to ignore the opportunity to stuff a pickup box full of topsoil, garage sale finds, and poorly-guarded building materials. That’s what it’s there for. That’s why God created rain: to wash it out for you.

The days of the compact pickup have been on a steady decline over the past decade. They have morphed into the likes of Dakotas, Tacomas, and this week’s Nissan Frontier. Forget “medium-size” or “mid-size”; this is what I like to call “common sense-size”. The full-size market offerings are starting to resemble the “After” picture of a Transformer in battle mode. Be afraid, especially when you have to fill up.

It used to be that a pickup truck was all about the box, with the cab being a bench-seat afterthought. For many, that cab has now become a mobile office, whether the trade is blue or white-collared. Seats and a steering wheel simply won’t cut it anymore. This week, we find out just how Ginzu-sharp the guts are in the Nissan Frontier SE Crew Cab 4 x 4.

2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge


Engine compartment

Fitting a 4.0-litre V6 into most vehicles involves some form of assembly-line shoehorn. The Frontier’s mill seems neither lost nor wedged in the engine bay. The only style-cramp for servicing involves the induction system intake, which seems to be doing double duty as a fan shroud. The hood prop rod is set back to the rear of the driver’s side fender. It’s not inaccessible, but it might be a good addition to the Rethink List, since the reach required is something you would only attempt with a clean truck. Or a green plastic bag buffer.

2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

Fluid access is a cinch, with upright necks and reservoir placement that should forego a shopping trip to Funnels ‘R Us. The oil fill location actually incorporates a “neck” of sorts, just long enough to keep the Texas Tea from soaking the mill. The cap incorporates a cinch-click function, much like that of your fuel filler cap. It’s necessary, considering that both the cap and neck are some form of plastic, which could suffer cracks or stripped threads from over-exertion.

The air filter box is easily accessed, as are the headlamp bulbs, even with the battery in place. About the only thing you can’t check is the automatic transmission fluid level. There is a dipstick, with a hands-off catch bolted in place. You’d probably end up overfilling it anyway.

2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge


Spare tire

The tools are stowed behind the rear seat back. Just like my old Cheyenne, the Frontier uses a retractable cable, which is easy to lower and cinch into place. A full-size spare tire is standard equipment. Nissan Roadside Assistance Service will even come and change it for you, for the first three years of ownership.

While we’re down here, it’s good to point out the existence of wiring harness rough-ins for trailer purposes. (No splicey-dicey required.)


The box


2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

Every Crew Cab, with the exception of the Nismo edition, uses a 73.8-inch cargo cavity. Let’s just call it a six-footer and move on. (OK, it’s 1861 mm for all you Metricians out there.) The Crew also includes a factory-applied gooey black spray-on box liner, with plastic bed rail caps. Wait; there’s more! First seen on the Titan, the standard Util-track Channel System uses five tracks in total: two on the sides, one at the front of the box, and two in the floor, with protective covers that slide over top. The system includes four heavy-duty tie-down cleats, which are locked into place with a quick twist of the wrist. To keep them from running away on you, there are four cap ends included, which slide into the end of the rails. To secure them, or loosen them, head to the glove box for the right-sized rubber-handled flat wrench.

To keep the exterior box portions from flapping in the breeze, the panels at the front of the box use twin support rods on each side. The tailgate is locking, with a hard ABS-plastic panel to deflect loose cargo dances.


Interior


2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

Let’s start in the back, and work our way up. The 60/40 bench can really flip out. The bottom cushions fold up easily for large, bulky items, and the seatbacks can fold forward to provide a stable load platform. There’s a flip-down centre armrest, and a dual cupholder mounted on the rear of the centre console. The rear cupholder uses C-shaped spring-loaded cinchers. There are the expected passenger assist handles on the roof, and the Yee-Hah grab handles on the B-pillar. A storage pocket can be found on the rear of the driver’s seat.

In the front row, the passenger-side seat can flip forward to provide an impromptu work surface. There’s a handy pouch on the side of the seat, in a spot where the driver could stow the gas card or receipts. The console has a 12-volt DC plug-in, coin holder, even clips that look perfect for a pen or standard tire gauge. There are two additional 12-volt inlets on the dash, with hinged covers instead of those rubberized flaps destined for breakage. The adjacent cubby to the power outlets should swallow phones and MP3 players rather easily. If only that MP3 player had a plug-in; that doesn’t happen until the LE trim level. Glove boxes are dual, with a bottom locker and an upper free-and-easy. Neither cavity is particularly large. Two cupholder cavities are at the ready for your liquid jolt. Removable rubber size adjusters do little to hold a standard take-out coffee cup, with no cinch. The same is true of the larger cavities. Even an oversized slush bucket was still wiggling in the hot summer heat.

2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4x4
2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The audio and HVAC controls are oversized, with the expectation that gloved or Paul Bunyan-sized mitts will be actuating them. An upper stuff tray has a removable rubber-feel bed, colour-coded to the interior for a tasteful blend. Visors have non-lit vanities, and extenders to keep the scorch out of your retinas. Cruise control is standard, with steering-wheel-mounted controls front and centre. The driver’s side window has an auto-down punch, while exterior mirrors are power-positioned, as well as heated. Seat adjustment is the bare minimum for the driver; all you’ve got is the excitement of ‘Recline’. Oversized sunglasses aficionados will appreciate the overhead cavern stowage. So will Dolce & Gabbana. Side curtain airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags don’t arrive until the LE, with an additional option tick for leather guts required.


Clarkey rating

I’m a little torn here. The Frontier has an abundance of truck-related features and I think that few could find issue with the offering. It would be a five-star performer, with the addition of curtain and side airbag protection. Without them, and with the continued attitude that safety is something you have to pay for, I’m subtracting a star from the Frontier’s impressive performance.

Next week: Vera nice! Hyundai’s new sport-brute gets turned inside out.

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