I looked long and hard for the perfect truck - and I've found it. I've always driven full-size pickups but wanted better economy, 4wd, a decent cargo capacity, and room for my two big dogs for everything except hauling the big round bales of hay. Still have the 2500 Ram for the latter, but the Frontier handles everything else beautifully. Since I tend to drive my vehicles forever, I wasn't concerned about this being older and having a bit over 100k miles on it. I did have my mechanic go over it thoroughly, freshening several things that needed to be addressed, but still brought it in at my budgeted figure - and expect to drive it at least another 100k miles. Can you tell I love it??
This truck has been a lemon since the day I bought it. The knock sensor and the catalytic converters (yes, plural) go bad at 100k miles, and you're looking at 3k to fix all this, or else you can't pass emissions. I've talked to mechanics and they say that they see this all the time with Nissan frontiers. You'll need to get the Nissan parts, because aftermarket parts aren't compatible and you'll waste your money, & still not pass emissions. The AC has gone out on me twice, and even the electrical components struggle. I've only got 145k highway miles, and I've struggled mightily with the catalytic converters, knock sensors, AC unit (broken twice), electrical, tailgate handle, door handle
I use the truck primarily to tow a 3000 lb camper. The 3.3 L engine in the 2002 was rated at only 170 hp but this little truck seems to use all of them as it tows the camper plus another 500 lbs of camping gear as though it is not there. That is both with power and mileage. The camper and gear doubles the weight of the truck alone with no more than a 15-20 % increase in fuel consumption. For power I'm comparing it to my old Ford full-size with a 351 V-8. Never any maintenance in nearly 8 years of use other than regular preventative maintenance. Cannot recommend this little truck too much!!
I saved literally thousands of dollars by buying a code reader and simply erasing the bogus cat failure codes. I do almost all of the maintenance. including the timing belt; the truck has seen the inside of a shop only twice for small repairs. Some features of the design are stupid. Replacing the driver's side valve cover gasket is a total nightmare, because the intake plenum has to be removed. You also have to take off the plenum to replace the knock sensor, although it can be relocated to the top of the engine. I figure that these are dealer-welfare designs. Altogether, I have been happy with this, my first truck. It is the perfect size for my hauling and commuting needs. I hear tI needed another truck. hat the new ones don't have the bugs of the '02s. Probably would buy one if