When I was looking for a truck I needed something that I could get into relatively cheap that I could haul my motorcycle around with, and last a long time. After doing lots of research I decided on the Frontier. I bought the truck with 75k on it 2 years ago, and it currently has just under 100k. The previous owner took good care of it and gave me a bunch of maintenance receipts and so far it's been trouble free except for a bad knock sensor, but that doesn't really effect anything. That said, it's not very powerful and it drinks gas like a V8. It should have had a 6 speed but with this truck you trade power and efficiency for reliability. If your Ok with that, then it's great.
Look, durability. size
Well, since there is already a new model out I doubt this would help anything, but I would say it needs a stronger and more efficient motor. If they made a truck this size with a stronger motor that got 20 MPG city, and 25 MPG highway, it would own the market.
Bought my 03 Frontier new in 1/03, haven't had any complaints, now has 191k miles on it, having some issues but that's expected I guess. Speed sensors on both side needed replaced, now having to replace rear seal. Might be bandaging it but really don't want to let the truck go. Only complaint was local Nissan dealership for service or lack there of, but found local shop just as good and less expensive.
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.
Update 2016: My wife and I have a job that allows us to commute together, so I haven't put too many miles on the truck as of late. This truck was perfect for coaching soccer and throwing all the gear in the back and still have enough room for a few players. Recently, I hauled a 6-12 U-Haul trailer, loaded to the max, about 400 miles. The truck got about 10 miles to the gallon, but handled it just fine. I still get 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway unloaded.
My 2003 truck is now 13 years old with 98,000 miles. I had to replace the knock sensor, so I went ahead and had the timing belt replaced and a full tune-up done while the mechanic had it. The spark wires and plugs were the original, so I replaced them, along with all the belts, hoses, and transmission flush. It was about $2,200 dollars, but it's maintenance that needed to be done, and was much cheaper then the dealership. I keep the truck in the garage and it's very clean inside and out. My mechanic offered me $7,000 for it and told me don't sell it without talking to him. I don't really need a truck and was tempted, but, as I told him, it's like an old friend.
After owning this truck since new, I can only think of two things I would do differently. First, I would have gotten power windows and door locks. Having said that, the deal was on "this" truck and another truck would have cost me more money that I couldn't afford at the time. Secondly, avoid Nissan dealerships. I do all the easy maintenance myself. Things like oil changes, disk brakes pads, coolant flushes etc, but I avoid the Nissan dealership here because they are very expensive, and I don't thing they are competent. I have had three, what I consider, minor recalls on the truck. Even when I bring them the notice that I was sent by Nissan, they seem to be clueless as to what to do. To this date none of the recalls have been accomplished. I notified Nissan USA and the dealership still was clueless and failed to act. Find yourself a good local mechanic and avoid the dealership.
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.
Factory sound isn't all that great.
No iPod hook up.
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.
Great ground clearance and very capable off road. Ample power for a 4000 lb truck with a manual tranny
Gas mileage poor considering its a v6, not v8. Overall engine reliability and better placement of back spark plug