Used 2002 Nissan Frontier King Cab Review

Edmunds expert review

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




What's new for 2002

Nissan continues to enhance its compact pickup line with the introduction of the 2002 Frontier Crew Cab Long Bed, the first compact crew cab pickup to offer a full-size bed. Other improvements for the Frontier lineup include a redesigned instrument panel and console and an available Rockford Fosgate-powered audio system.

Vehicle overview

When it comes to compact pickups, style is an increasingly important selling point. Functionality is great, but only if it comes in a neat and brightly colored wrapper.

Need proof? How about the Nissan Frontier? Restyled last year, Nissan's compact pickup looks to tear the heads off its compact competitors and eat them for lunch. The dominant front bumper and multi-unit 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 and visible attachment bolts.

Fortunately, there's power to back up the power tool styling. 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 170 hp and a 2.4-liter four that produces 143 hp.

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 Spartan standard truck and four-cylinder XE, the V6-powered XE and SE and the supercharged SC and SVE. The SC is the most feature-laden, and it comes standard with items like air conditioning, 17-inch wheels, remote keyless entry and antilock brakes. 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, a 4x2 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. While still not exceptionably roomy, the rear seat is certainly big enough for children. 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 for 2002 Nissan is also offering the Crew Cab Long Bed. This version has a full 74.6-inch bed.

Nissan has also enhanced the previously dull interior design. These changes include a new instrument panel with three "cockpit-style" round gauges, new climate controls and a new console with a side map pocket. A 25 percent-larger glove compartment and up to three interior power points make Frontier more practical than before. Another major change and ergonomic improvement is the replacement of the dash-mounted pull-and-twist parking brake with a more traditional foot-operated pedal system. Finally, audiophiles should appreciate the newly optional Rockford Fosgate 300-watt, nine-speaker audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD player. It's available only on Crew Cab pickups.

The Frontier is a solid and versatile truck, especially with the Crew Cab Long Bed. But there are other trucks you will want to consider in your buying decisions, notably the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger.






Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.