The 2017 Nissan Frontier is looking to develop a relationship
In the '90s, Jamaican roads were replete with Nissan pick-ups, many of which are still on the road. This is the position Nissan hopes to ascend to again with the Frontier.
Now in its third generation, the Frontier has been garnering a slow and steady traction with Jamaicans.
From a design perspective, it is heavily influenced by its older sibling, the Patrol, a vehicle which rivals the Toyota Land Cruiser. Looking at the front facia, it is hard to distinguish it from the Patrol outside of the difference in dimensions. The exterior lines are sharp, while the sheet metal has subtle indentations and pronouncements that give the vehicle a bulky and healthy look.
Once the engine is started, the sound makes it obvious it's a diesel. Luckily for Automotives, our trim level was turboed. This allowed the 2.5-litre engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, to perform a bit faster.
Round-town driving is never a good place to test a pick-up, so we headed for the hills, on a road I was recently told about. It's a pathway to Holywell through Norbrook, which very few persons have tackled and for good reasons. Half of the journey is smooth and the other half consists of rocks, dirt, and mud.
In a bid to give the vehicle flexibility and comfort, Nissan opted to use a multi-link suspension at the rear rather than the traditional leaf suspension. The result is a slight wobbly feeling, which is customary for all Frontiers, as each wheel's suspension feels totally independent of the other. The reasoning behind this, according to Nissan, is that, when the back is ladened with weight, passengers will have a more comfortable ride than usual. Unfortunately, I did not get to test this axiom.
Overall, the suspension can be a bit sensitive, which allows some of the impact from potholes to travel to the cabin. Luckily, their zero-gravity seats are extremely comfortable with a nice soft fabric cover that makes long journeys more enjoyable than usual.
At the half-point mark on the journey, I confronted some rocks which required four-wheel drive assistance. This was easily activated by turning the dedicated knob to lock the rear differential, which immediately gave the vehicle more torque.
What was immediately obvious was the fact that Nissan's electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD) system is very active in this mode, by constantly judging the terrain and applying torque to the wheel with the most grip. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the driver you are. If you are a purist, you prefer full control and if you are an amateur off-roader, you welcome the assistance.
After a few obstacles, I got the hang of it and developed a balance between my input and the vehicle's computer. In addition, once four-wheel drive is engaged, the vehicle moves a bit slower as it is more concentrated on torque rather than speed.
Now back to the rocks I mentioned earlier, the first thing that worked in my favor was the good approach angle of the vehicle, which is about 30.4 degrees from the front tire to the front bumper. This also allowed me to enter into ditches without worrying about rubbing the undercarriage of the vehicle.
While driving over the rocks, the same can be said about the 9.1 inches of ground clearance and departure angle of 25.6 degrees. Despite the rugged terrain, for the entire journey, the undercarriage was unscathed.
As for the torque, which is basically the power each wheel turns with, it was more than adequate when going over rocks on an incline. In some cases, while in four-wheel low mode, the eLSD had trouble identifying what wheel to give the most power, due to the complexity of the terrain. In these instances I had to reverse, put it in four-wheel high, gave it some speed and hurdled the rock.
An interior to remember
Throughout the entire experience, the driver and the passengers are in a comfortable setting. For the front passenger, the armrest is covered with the same material as the seat and below it is a huge door bin to store a bottle. Usually when driving a twin cabin pick-up, many persons will be heading to a far place to get work done. This will require you to carry workmen, who if smart, will all carry their food and water bottles; therefore, these adequate compartments can come in very handy.
For the second-row passengers, there is a rear a/c vent and a 12V socket that comes in very handy when you want to charge your mobile phones.
Overall, the driving experience was quite different from other pickups, as the Frontier forces you to develop a relationship with it to best tackle obstacles. You must know how and when the computer will intervene especially in four-wheel drive and how best to react to this. This vehicle wants to bond with its driver in a way that is beyond just stepping inside and pressing the gas pedal.
What I like
- Very comfortable seats and overall interior feel
- Rear glass has defog lines
- Rear a/c vents
- No pull-up handle on a pillar for the driver
- Bluetooth not straightforward to pair with phone
- Price range: $4.1m - 7.1m
- Version tested: $6.3m
- Engine: 2.5-litre turbo charged
- Transmission: 7-speed automatic
- Horse power: 161
- Torque, Nm: 403
- Ground clearance: 9.1 inches
- Length: 17.2 feet/ 5255 mm
- Width: 6.07 feet/ 1850 mm
- Fuel tank: 80L
- Weight: 6415 lbs/ 2910 kg
Vehicle provided by Fidelity Motors Ltd (876) 948-5459,