FIRST LOOK: 2002 Nissan Frontier
By: Michael Levine

Nissan isn't done yet with the Frontier.

After a radical restyling for the 2001 model year, that included a brand new front-end treatment and factory installed Eaton supercharger, the 2002 model receives its share of improvements. Among them, the longest bed in the compact crew cab class and an interior overhaul.

The optional Frontier Crew Cab Long Bed increases bed length an impressive 25%, from 56.3" to 74.6", for 2002. And in an "in-your-face" to archrival Toyota the new bed is .1" longer than the Tacoma's regular and Xtracab trucks.

The Frontier's new interior is almost as radical a leap as the 2001's exterior. Now shared with the Xterra compact SUV, the instrument panel consists of three large round gauges, somewhat similar to the IP in the Lexus GS 400 series sedans, and new HVAC controls. A 25% larger glovebox resides in the smoothly revised passenger area.

The interior also offers a brand new sound system. You may remember at last year's SEMA show Nissan displayed its 2000-watt plus Rockford-Fosgate customized Frontier. Though you won't find quite that much power available in the new Frontier, Crew Cab owners will be able to order an optional nine-speaker, 400-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system for their trucks. That's 300-watts more than the factory stereo system with a price under $600! Nissan claims the same system would cost audiophiles over $1000 using aftermarket components.

OK, so the bed and new interior are substantial improvements over the 2001 Frontier but we think that the most extreme revision and change in thought at Nissan for 2002 is the replacement of the traditional 'import-esque' dash mounted twist-and-pull parking brake with a much welcomed foot-operated system. We think we hear the sound of tens of thousands of future Frontier owners shouting hallelujah! Can we get an Amen?!

The 2002 Frontier Crew Cab's powertrain continues to be centered around the workhorse SOHC 3.3-liter V6 engine, equipped with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The 210-hp supercharged engine also remains unchanged for 2002 but is expected to see 30 more horsepower for 2003.