From Hardbody to Frontier
One of the greatest periods of pickups, for me, was the early ‘90s, when vehicles like the Mazda b2200, Isuzu P’up, Mitsubishi Mighty Max, Toyota Hilux SR5 and Nissan Hardbody rule the roads. These were true workhorse pickups, bought by persons who prided themselves on getting the job done to earn a living.
Many of them are still on the road today, delivering gas cylinders or carrying produce from the country. I recently saw one of these vintage pickups at Melrose Hill, ladened with lumber and making its way up a hill. This is a true testament of the strength and practicality of these vehicles.
The pickup market is still very active, but like many other companies, Nissan has changed their nameplate from Hardbody to Frontier. In some regions it is also known as the Navara. I hate the fact that Nissan keeps changing the names of their vehicles. It seems like, whenever the public starts to fall in love with a model, they rebrand it as something else, for example, the Sunny, Tida and the Hardbody.
The company started mass producing mid-sized pickups in 1985, and back then some of them carried the Datsun badge. They were praised for their reliability and durability, which was ideal for farmers and construction workers.
In 2014, it got a welcomed facelift that gave it a bulkier and future-proof design, with highlights and radiator grille that were flushed into the front fascia. This gives it a very uniform and tidy appearance, with the sheet metal slightly protruding over the front wheels.
Since then, it has gone through some facelifts, with the overall design remaining the same. The most prominent change is the protrusion of the front grille, where the horizontal chrome bars were ditched for an overall black theme with the Nissan emblem in the middle.
An interior fit for a pickup
The interior is a mixture of chrome and matted black with an eight-inch touch screen decked in the middle of the dashboard. I wish the screen was a little more responsive to touch; however, it gets the job done as it pertains to multimedia or pairing bluetooth devices.
It’s also updated with dual-climate control and rear a/c vents to ensure that there is good circulation throughout the vehicle. The controls are all buttons for the climate, as there are no knobs present.
Below this cluster is the knob to control the driving mode, which is placed within the driver’s line of sight, so he can know which wheels have power.
What immediately stood out to me was the comfort of the seats while driving. Now, I am the first to admit, this might be mind over matter; however, some years ago, Nissan boasted having Zero gravity seats to lower travel fatigue, which makes long journeys very pleasurable.
The model I test-drove is a 2.5-litre engine paired to a turbocharger, to give it a torque of 450 Nm. Pickups will never perform like sedans, where speed is concerned, especially due to the centre of gravity, so there is no need for any 0-60 statistics. Nonetheless, the vehicle is responsive enough to overtake when needed, as the turbo kicks in for the extra boost.
Coil spring suspensions are used throughout, to give the vehicle a very smooth ride; however, if you want one strictly for industrial usage, there is the option to put leaf springs at the back. This set-up will give the vehicle a firmer ride, but it can manage a heavier payload. I think if you are driving a pickup for domestic or passive usage, stick to the coil-spring set-up.
Nissan did not disappoint with the Frontier, as the company stuck to what has made it great. The engine is trusted and reliable, so much so that Mercedes-Benz used it in their X Class, and it functions competently as a utilitarian vehicle.
Price of tested model: 7.82 mil, Nissan Frontier XE
Engine: 2.5-litre engine
Torque: 450 Nm
Transmission: Four Wheel Drive, 7 speed Automatic
Fuel tank: 80 litre
Body Type: pickup
Competition: Toyota Hilux, Mazda BT50, Mitsubishi L200, VW Amarok
Vehicle provided by Fidelity Motors Ltd (876) 948-5459, firstname.lastname@example.org