Thu | Mar 22, 2018

Nissan Frontier the Executive Workhorse

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Some critics may say that the Nissan Frontier is a little long in the tooth in terms of styling, but long may it live as a testament to practicality! We tested the Nissan 4x4 LP300, and with the styling updates, modern touches, and nifty, useful gadgets, the prospective owner would never know that this marque survived the millennium bug.

Our test partner, Dave Crawford at Fidelity Motors, was like an excited kid raving about his new toy. He launched into a rapid-fire description of all the stuff in our test model. He began with the phrase 'it has all the bells and whistles ... .' As we backed out of Fidelity's Hanover Street garage, he rattled on about the YD25 engine, which is a 2.5l turbo diesel mated to a fun-filled seven-speed tiptronic transmission.

The Nissan 4x4 LP300 has its own compass. The rear view mirror has a heads up display of the compass that is as much a conversation piece as it is a practical gadget for the ultra-serious off-roader. The gauges have daylight illumination with time, vehicle range, and gas consumption along with trip meter that can be accessed from steering controls. The high-definition reverse camera is something to smile about with its three safety zones and audible warning system.

The generous double cab, which can seat five persons comfortably, was also noteworthy. The driver is treated to a nice, snug seating position, which is not as high as one would expect in the off-road world, but gives a wide view while allowing the driver to sink into comfort - something like off-road executive comfort, with electronically adjusted leather seats to boot. The rear passengers have the benefit of a reclined seating position instead of the bone-jarring upright position of the typical crew or double-cab vehicle.

Generous wing mirrors with little by way of blind spots are also there for consultation.

Turbo charger

Out on the road, the YD25 engine 2.5l turbo diesel kept reminding you that it was just that: a growling four-banger that is a little wheezy until the turbo charger kicks in at about 2,000rpm. There is a wait for it ... wait for it moment when you ask the Nissan Frontier the question with your right foot. Sink deep and wait for that surge that gobbles up open pavement and winding hilly roads. Flick in that tiptronic feature and watch the tachometer redline at about 4,500rpm as you row through the seven gears. The Palisadoes strip was done too soon as we leaned into that 30 degree roundabout near the Norman Manley Airport. You will have to bear with a generous amount of body roll, though. In fact, it is a little unnerving until the double wishbone front suspension softens it out.

The Nissan Frontier will stand up to abuse well. We threw it on to the Shooters Hill main road and the vehicle came to life. The electronic power-assisted steering had a surprising amount of road feel. It is good, and the suspension controls the body well, but it can get choppy and harsh on bumpy roads. We find the firm steering to be surprisingly direct, which helps this pickup become somewhat entertaining on winding roads. There is shift on the fly four-wheel drive up to 100km.

On the way back down, the hill descent feature slows the vehicle down to about 7km, allowing the driver to concentrate on steering on slippery or otherwise loose surfaces. Traction control will forgive your sins if you begin to think you are Lewis Hamilton. Despite the spongy feel to the brakes, they were reassuringly responsive.

The Nissan Frontier 4x4 LP300 is definitely at home whether off-road, on the farm, in the mine pit, or at construction site. Don't go demanding Ferrari performance in a bid to conquer the asphalt, but you can arrive in a business suit and step out with confidence and not be worried about making a good first impression.