2003 Nissan Frontier Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Nissan Frontier

Nissan Frontier Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 143 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Nissan Frontier

  • With a variety of body styles, engines and trims, the Frontier should cover just about every compact truck buyer's needs.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Wide variety of body configurations and trim levels, many safety and convenience features.

  • Cons

    No third door on King Cabs, cramped rear seats for Crew Cabs.

  • What's New for 2003

    Nissan's compact pickup rolls into 2003 with many new enhancements. Most interesting is a power-operated retractable top. The "Open Sky" top -- essentially a giant sunroof -- is optional on Crew Cab models. For safety, Nissan has added standard dual-stage front airbags for Crew Cabs, standard LATCH child seat anchors on King Cabs and Crew cabs, an optional stability control system and an optional tire pressure monitoring system. Other changes for 2003 include 10 more horsepower for normally aspirated V6 models, a driver seat-height adjuster and standard Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). King Cabs now have standard ABS, a new storage bin and a new first aid kit (V6 only).

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (112 total reviews)  |  Write a Review


Ole miss update

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Frontier 4dr Crew Cab XE-V6 Rwd LB (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

I just wanted to update my post of my Frontier Crew Cab long bed with 3.3 engine. I had to replace the A/C compressor around 75,000 miles, replaced a headlight last week, and a battery at the seven year point. I chose to put new shocks all around and replace the brake pads at 85,000 miles. I will have new hoses and belts put on when I have the timing belt replaced at 100,000 miles. Not bad for a ten year old truck with 90,000 miles. I take very good care of this truck and I plan to drive it daily for a few more years.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great light duty pickup

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Frontier 2dr King Cab XE Rwd SB (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I test drove all the light duty trucks before I bought this in 2007. Tacoma was small, lower to the ground, and more bouncy. Mazda felt loose, Ranger couldn't touch the interior space. The Nissan is stable, feels larger than others, has great towing capacity (3000#), and I get 27 mpg. For the size, it has power you wouldn't expect. Best of all, it has had no major problems, and that's at 175,000 miles.




Too many issues

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Frontier 2dr King Cab XE-V6 Desert Runner Rwd SB (3.3L 6cyl 5M)

My previous truck was a 95 Nissan Hardbody XE V6 ext Cab. I traded it in on my current truck and only had to replace the fan belt when it broke at about 100k. Loved that Truck. I have had numerous issues with this one however. I have had to replace the clutch and the AC compressor at 62k. The speed sensor had been on its way out since before then, and finally quit outright at about 85k. Now at 95k and need to replace AC comp again. Nissan dealer installed it.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Buy it

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Frontier 4dr Crew Cab XE-V6 Rwd LB (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

I bought my Nissain Frontier new in November 2003. I've owned Toyota, Chevy (Luv), Mazda, Ford small pickups. I like to have a small truck. If you need a heavy hauler, get a full size truck. I've put 65,000 miles on the truck and have not had a single problem. It tows a trailer with ease and goes from city to highway driving with ease. It's quieter on the Highway than my Honda Odyssey. I get 20 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway which is better gas mileage than most get. Only bad I can say the A/C compresser has always had a bone chilling "clang" when it kicks in.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great truck

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Frontier 2dr King Cab XE-V6 Desert Runner Rwd SB (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

I've had this truck now for over a year. And with 90,000 on the odom. Ive given it 1 full engine and tranny tune- up. It cruises on the hiway at 2500 rpm's doing 70 mph. And Idle's Smooth as glass. I give it 4 out of 5 Starz




One tough truck

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Vehicle: 2003 Nissan Frontier 4dr Crew Cab SE-V6 Rwd LB (3.3L 6cyl 4A)

Bought mine new. I now have over 140,000 on it. All I've ever had to do is change oil. I've only had to replace the brake pads once. The tires average over 60,000 before I replace them. It's never even had to be aligned. Toughest vehicle I've ever owned. It still looks brand new. It's worked hard and now my son drives it. Liked it so well I bought a 2008 Frontier to keep it company. Nissan builds the most reliable truck out there.



Full 2003 Nissan Frontier Review

What's New for 2003

Nissan's compact pickup rolls into 2003 with many new enhancements. Most interesting is a power-operated retractable top. The "Open Sky" top -- essentially a giant sunroof -- is optional on Crew Cab models. For safety, Nissan has added standard dual-stage front airbags for Crew Cabs, standard LATCH child seat anchors on King Cabs and Crew cabs, an optional stability control system and an optional tire pressure monitoring system. Other changes for 2003 include 10 more horsepower for normally aspirated V6 models, a driver seat-height adjuster and standard Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). King Cabs now have standard ABS, a new storage bin and a new first aid kit (V6 only).

Introduction

Nissan has been building trucks for the U.S. market since 1958. Now in its seventh generation of pickup offerings, the company's 2003 Frontier-badged model is the result of constant improvement since the last major redesign in 1998. This year, Nissan has focused on safety, as well as fun. A stability control system is available, as is a tire-pressure monitor. Both are industry firsts for a compact pickup. A wide variety of bodies, features and trim levels are the Frontier's best attributes. The lineup ranges from a basic (and inexpensive) two-wheel drive King Cab to the supercharged Crew Cab long bed. The supercharged S/C trucks are pricey, which is perhaps why Nissan offers value versions (the SVE trim) for the King Cab and Crew Cab. If your compact pickup needs are quite specific, the Frontier might be your truck. But we certainly recommend shopping around. The Toyota Tacoma, in particular, is another compact pickup you'll want to consider.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Frontier is highly configurable to better match your particular needs. There are two main body styles: King Cab and Crew Cab. The King Cab is Nissan's extended-cab pickup. It has front bucket seats and additional seating for two passengers in fold-down rear jump seats. Available trim levels include the no-frills standard truck and four-cylinder XE, the V6-powered XE and SE and the supercharged S/C and SVE. The S/C is the most feature-laden. Those looking for power and a smaller price tag should consider the more reasonably priced SVE. Four-wheel drive is available on most of these models, but if you just want the tough look of a 4WD, Nissan offers the Desert Runner, 2WD King Cab featuring the same heavy-duty chassis, ride height and stance as the 4WD Frontier.

Compared to the King Cab, the Frontier Crew Cab has a larger cabin with expanded rear-seat accommodations. Rear forward-hinged doors offer improved access to seats. The V6 (normally aspirated and supercharged) is the only engine available, and trim levels are the same except that there is no standard Crew Cab. In the past, the Crew Cab only came with a truncated 56.3-inch cargo bed, but last year Nissan began offering the Crew Cab Long Bed.

Powertrains and Performance

A supercharged 3.3-liter V6 is the most powerful engine, and it makes 210 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque when mated to the four-speed automatic transmission (the five-speed manual drops the torque rating to 231 lb-ft). There's also a normally aspirated V6 worth 180 hp and a 2.4-liter four that produces 143 hp. If you want to tow, our suggestion is either V6 and the automatic transmission. This configuration gives the Frontier its maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds. Four-wheel drive is available on V6 trucks only.

Safety

Nissan has upped the safety ante for 2003 with the addition of optional Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and an optional tire-pressure monitor. ABS is standard on all trucks. The NHTSA has given the Frontier Crew Cab very good crash test scores. The IIHS, however, has indicated that the Frontier fares poorly in frontal offset crashes, as shown by its test of a 1998 Frontier regular cab.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Frontier's cabin is one of the better ones available in the compact pickup class. A common complaint for the Crew Cab since its introduction, however, has been its cramped rear seat. A shortage of rear legroom is the major culprit.

Driving Impressions

Nissan likes to tout that its supercharged V6 offers the most horsepower in any V6 compact pickup. While true, we've found that real-world results are a bit disappointing. The supercharged engine has great off-idle responses but runs out of breath quickly. Off-road performance is about average for this class of truck.

Talk About The 2003 Frontier

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 20
  • cty
/
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs