2001 Nissan Frontier 2WD Review

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High Gear Media Staff High Gear Media Staff  
June 18, 2001

You review the '01 Frontier SC

You might not remember Nissan trucks of the past. Why? Simply put, because they just haven’t been very exciting.

For nearly four decades, Nissan has sold pickups in the U.S., first as the Datsun ‘truck,’ then as the Nissan ‘truck,’ and most recently as the Nissan Hardbody. Those pickups of the past were competent, reliable workhorses but had very little in the way of bold styling or sportiness.

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The new Frontier, and especially the SC, is an about face. Nissan now has one of the most style-conscious pickups on the market, and the supercharged SC model is marketed to young, muscle-car enthusiasts looking for that all-important rugged lifestyle statement along with good performance.

More torque, and more intake noise

With the competition upping the horsepower ante, Nissan found a way to boost the power of its venerable cast-iron-block 3.3-liter V-6 without a costly engine redesign. Thinking a little out of the box, Nissan engineers decided to go with a solution that had already been used successfully in the aftermarket: they added a supercharger. The Eaton rotor-type supercharger is mounted neatly over the intake manifold, using the existing crank pulley (widened for the task). To compensate for the addition of the supercharger, larger (by 80 percent) fuel injectors and a stronger fuel pump help make sure there’s enough extra fuel for the extra air.

The effect of the supercharger is, quite simply, 40 extra horsepower for the right foot and a lot of extra intake noise. The nice thing about using a supercharger rather than a turbocharger is that the boost is instantaneous, and it’s the kind of power that a truck can really use. If it weren’t for the whine of the blower, it would be convincing as a naturally aspirated larger displacement six or small V-8. The supercharger adds 31 lb-ft more torque (46 lb-ft more for automatic-transmission equipped trucks), compared to the naturally aspirated 3.3-liter, and it’s available at the same 2800-rpm peak.

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