Used 2001 Nissan Frontier King Cab

2001 Nissan Frontier
List price range
2001 Nissan Frontier


  • Supercharged power, bold new styling, good interior ergonomics.


  • Still no V6 for regular cab model, cramped crew cab cabin.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

vehicle overview

When Nissan redesigned its compact pickup in 1998, the company gave it a completely new look and, for the first time ever, a name: the Frontier. Unfortunately, that name was affixed to a dull, dorky truck that hardly inspired the rugged individuality of the "hardbody" model it replaced. Enter the 2001 Frontier. Sporting a reskinned body and a supercharged engine, this Frontier looks to tear the heads off its compact competitors and eat them for lunch.

Fed up with the current trend of morphing trucks into car-like mommy-mobiles, Nissan designers looked for a shape that would evoke thoughts of Black & Decker rather than Crate & Barrel. The new larger front bumper, revised grille and reconfigured headlights combine to produce a machine-like look that does away with the previous model's sedate fascia. The industrial theme continues with the Frontier's oversized fender flares, now standard even on 4x2 models, featuring visible divot holes and exposed attachment bolts. Even the tailgate received some work with a new cover plate, a more user-friendly latch handle and a standard key lock, the first ever for a compact truck.

Not content to let the designers get all the glory, Nissan engineers went to work in the engine bay and bolted on a Roots-type supercharger that pumps up the 3.3-liter V6's power to 210 hp and 245 ft-lbs of torque. Now packaged as the SC V6, the supercharger can be ordered on both King Cab and Crew Cab platforms, in either two- or four-wheel-drive configurations, including the Desert Runner off-road package. Exclusive to SCs are four-spoke 17-inch wheels wrapped in 265/55R17 off-road tires. With the added weight of larger wheels and tires, higher rate front springs are included along with revised shock valving, both front and rear.

If added power and bigger meats aren't enough, SC buyers can opt for the supercharger value package that includes leather seating with red-on-charcoal stitching, a six-disc in-dash CD changer with satellite steering wheel controls, security system, cruise control, tilt wheel and flip-up glass sunroof.

Although the cab itself is essentially unchanged from last year, subtle refinements to the interior were made to complement the radical exterior. A new instrument panel with reversible black/white gauges claims to improve legibility, while larger radio and climate control knobs should make for easier manipulation. New seat fabrics were patterned to look like woven metal to reinforce the industrial theme further, along with new fabric colors to complement the newly available exterior colors.

If bulging fenders and blown engines aren't what you're looking for, a wide range of Frontiers are available in a multitude of configurations: Regular Cab and Extended King Cab in basic XE or uplevel SE trim are powered by either a 143-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline four or normally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 (the latter available in King Cab only). A five-speed manual and four-speed automatic are the transmission choices, and all Frontiers (except Desert Runner) can be selected with two- or four-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive systems are of the shift-on-the-fly variety on V6 Frontiers, allowing the driver to select it at speeds up to 50 mph.

Nissan scored big in 2000 with the first ever compact crew cab. This year it's faced with stiff competition from a number of competitors who either will debut or have debuted their own four-door compact trucks. We like the added convenience of the Nissan Crew Cab's four-door access, but overall room inside, especially for rear-seat passengers, is severely limited.

Nissan will also continue to offer the Desert Runner, a two-wheel-drive V6 King Cab pickup truck built on the four-wheel-drive Frontier chassis. Now available in SC trim, and weighing in 500 lbs lighter than its four-wheel drive counterpart, the Desert Runner boasts the best power-to-weight ratio of any Frontier configuration.

The supercharged engine puts the Frontier in a class by itself when it comes to compact truck power. Even if supercharging isn't on your list, Nissan offers 11 other Frontier models, making it easy to find just what you're looking for in a compact truck.

2001 Highlights

Fresh new styling with a decidedly industrial theme injects some much needed personality into the Frontier for 2001. A supercharged V6, making 210 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque (231 lb-ft with a manual tranny), is available on special Desert Runner, King Cab and Crew Cab models, which get black-chrome headlight surrounds. Supercharged Frontiers come standard with 17-inch wheels and a limited-slip differential and can be equipped with leather upholstery, bundled in a package that includes a premium audio system with in-dash CD changer and steering wheel controls, plus a security system. Interiors get new fabrics, gauges and dash trimmings, as well as a new steering wheel. Tailgate locks are standard across the board, and a number of new colors, with names straight out of a J.Crew catalog, are available, like Khaki, Salsa and Denim.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2001 Nissan Frontier.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Daily commuters delight
daily commuter,09/04/2010
I bought my truck in 2001. my registration date was 9-11. This truck got 94,000 on original tires. 105,000 on brakes. 160,000 and counting on the clutch. I just took off the seat covers and the seats are like brand new. I'm giving the truck to my son and I believe he will continue to enjoy it. I just got the front wheel alignment done for the first time last week. Mostly freeway miles but I have taken it in the mountains and to the ocean. I got 24 miles to the gallon but I had to cruise at 63 miles an hour to do it. If you put 89 octane in it you will get the 27 miles a gallon they claim. And you get to go 65 miles an hour. I will miss this vehicle.
My first Pick-up
Frontier Frank,04/06/2010
Bought brand-new. Went into dealership to purchase another type of vehicle could not make a deal and asked if they had any of the new super-charged pick-ups. Drove it, bought it and 9 years later have no regrets. It's the most fun vehicle to drive and the workmanship and paint of the vehicle have been outstanding. Turned out the dealer I bought it from was the best I have ever dealt with.
I love Frontiers
I love this truck. I've had no maintenance problems with it. It hauls what I need it to haul. The price was right and it got great mileage for a truck. It was built so tough that when I was involved in an accident with a dumb kid driving a Sequoia my little truck got the better of that big SUV.
True to it's Nissan/Datsun heritage
I've owned 3 of these trucks, starting with a 1970 Datsun PL521 (my first truck), and a 95 Nissan Hardbody XE. This 2001 base model XE 4 cylinder 5 speed is as good and reliable as the prior trucks. I bought it in June 2008 and it had only 85K on it. It now has 116K, and is barely broken in. When I first got it, I repainted it the original Silver and installed a new set of Firestone A/T tires. I've only performed basics maintenance and a tune up and a newer battery. I've driven this truck on one long trip to MO to bring back a bass boat from my Dad's place. It towed pretty well, even in the Western VA mountains. (3rd gear up hills) I highly recommend this truck!
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Features & Specs

17 city / 22 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
143 hp @ 5200 rpm
14 city / 18 hwy
Seats 4
4-speed automatic
170 hp @ 4800 rpm
14 city / 18 hwy
Seats 4
4-speed automatic
170 hp @ 4800 rpm
20 city / 24 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
143 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 2001 Nissan Frontier King Cab features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2001 Nissan Frontier
More About This Model

Ever since the first Commercial Roadster rolled off the Ford Dearborn assembly plant in 1910, pickup trucks have taken on a utilitarian -- almost cookie-cutter -- look that fits right in at the construction site. Sure, they may have subtle styling cues that differentiate the makes and models, but the general mold is the same. When Nissan set out to perform a facelift to the 2001 Frontier, the designers not only broke the mold, they obliterated it with a radical styling departure from the norm that literally has "move over" written all over it.

The Frontier's provocative new exterior offers a tough, industrial look with a forward-thrusting front grille, oversized headlamps and large fender flares with rivet-type caps. Maxima-ized fog lamps grace the front fascia and a new tailgate has been added with an integral lock. The overall appearance is like the upcoming Hummer H2, but with a more civilized look. The new guise commands attention wherever you drive, and it didn't matter if we were in the Regular Cab, King Cab or Crew Cab: kids stared, senior citizens gawked, and chicks dug it.

Market gurus see the new Frontier more as an avenue for extroverts (who want to lead an active lifestyle while creating an image for themselves) than that of a rough and tumble truck. There are 14 different model choices for the Frontier in 2001: the XE Regular and King cab with a four-banger; the XE, SE and SC V6 in Desert Runner, King and Crew Cab guise. With the exception of the four-cylinder models (which are only rear-wheel drive), all are available in 4X2 and 4X4 models.

The suspension, while being a vast improvement over the same platform-Xterra on road, is rather harsh when the pavement of suburbia ends and the wilderness begins. On road, the freshened Frontier exhibited virtually no pitch or wallow (unlike its predecessor) and handled the twisties with aplomb. The steering is still numb, slow and non-communicative. We also experienced almost 2 inches of steering wheel play before the rack responded -- a bit too much for an "on-road-specific" vehicle.

Nissan admits that the 2001 Frontier is a street machine first, with some "light" off-road capability. Just take a look in the Frontier's wheel wells: there's hardly enough travel on 4X4 models to really go off in the brush. However, Nissan engineers promise a "real" off-road version of the Frontier is in the pipeline that will hit dealer showrooms in 2002.

The Frontier's interior features a new instrument cluster with reversible gauges, cruise control on the steering wheel and enlarged HVAC switches, that latter of which feel flimsy and look cheap, a la Toyota Celica. The leather seating surfaces in our SE tester were optional and provided excellent lumbar and thigh support, but we found the lateral support to be lacking -- especially when we took the Frontier off the highway. The soft-touch dash is a welcome enhancement over many a competitor's hard plastic variant and all of the essential controls fell easily at hand.

The base XE Frontier comes equipped with a 143-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that provides a decent amount of grunt for the value. Have a boat to tow or looking for additional power? Step up to the tried and true 3.3-liter SOHC V6 and 170 horsepower is available to your right foot. With 200 foot-pounds of torque, the V6 has a good amount of low-end pull, but like an Xterra with the same powerplant, it runs out of steam in the upper rpm range.

Thank goodness the engineers at Nissan realize that many people want to be able to pass another car on the highway without revving the engine into the stratosphere. To that end, a third engine will be added to the Frontier lineup this November, and it's a powerplant that we believe should be introduced right now. A first-ever for a compact truck, Nissan will add the "SC" series that will likely blow the doors off the competition.

Yep, the SC stands for supercharged. Making 210 horsepower and 245 foot-pounds of torque, and backed by a heavy-duty five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic, you can really feel the additional 45 foot-pounds of torque generated by the Eaton huffer (set to produce a conservative 6 pounds of boost) on the 3.3-liter SOHC V6. Besides the immediate throttle response and increased torque across the engine's rpm band, the blower motor is fully Warranted and affects fuel economy by only 10 percent.

SC-optioned Frontiers will also come standard with power windows, locks and outside mirrors; body-color fender flares; titanium-colored gauges and a 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio system.

Grinding the Frontier to a halt is accomplished through a front disc/rear drum arrangement that features rear-wheel ABS on base models, while V6 and Crew Cab models receive four-wheel ABS. Our SC Crew Cab tester exhibited linear emergency braking and minimal pedal pulse. The brakes were easy to modulate and exhibited virtually no fade after repeated stops. However, with the SC model, we'd like to see four-wheel discs fitted for additional stopping power given the blower option.

Pricing for the 2001 Frontier was not available at the time of this writing, but it's safe to say that a small premium will be tacked on for the new look. For the meek or timid, this may not be the truck for you. On the other hand, testosterone junkies looking for the ultimate bad-to-the-bone ride and boulevard cruiser, the Frontier should be at the top of your list. As for our take, we can't wait until November rolls around for one of the SC models. The 2001 Frontier is one truck that doesn't roll down the boulevard, it struts.

Used 2001 Nissan Frontier King Cab Overview

The Used 2001 Nissan Frontier King Cab is offered in the following styles: 2dr King Cab XE 2WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), 2dr King Cab XE-V6 Desert Runner 2WD (3.3L 6cyl 4A), 2dr King Cab SE-V6 Desert Runner 2WD (3.3L 6cyl 4A), 2dr King Cab XE 2WD (2.4L 4cyl 5M), 2dr King Cab SC-V6 2WD (3.3L 6cyl S/C 4A), 2dr King Cab XE-V6 Desert Runner 2WD (3.3L 6cyl 5M), 2dr King Cab SC-V6 4WD (3.3L 6cyl S/C 4A), 2dr King Cab XE-V6 4WD (3.3L 6cyl 4A), 2dr King Cab SC-V6 2WD (3.3L 6cyl S/C 5M), 2dr King Cab SE-V6 Desert Runner 2WD (3.3L 6cyl 5M), 2dr King Cab SC-V6 4WD (3.3L 6cyl S/C 5M), 2dr King Cab SE-V6 4WD (3.3L 6cyl 4A), 2dr King Cab XE-V6 4WD (3.3L 6cyl 5M), and 2dr King Cab SE-V6 4WD (3.3L 6cyl 5M).

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Should I lease or buy a 2001 Nissan Frontier?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Nissan lease specials
Check out Nissan Frontier lease specials