Mid-size truck makers are up against a wall of incentive cash that places some full-size models within reach of the typical mid-size truck buyer. How do you keep them in the mid-size fold? "It becomes a matter of giving the buyer capability," says Gene Brown, model line manager, pickups at Nissan North America. Nissan is launching two new mid-sizes, the Frontier pickup and the Xterra SUV. Examples of what Nissan is doing to provide capability while containing costs:
- Eliminate a cab style. The Frontier is built either as a King Cab or a Crew Cab. The Regular Cab is dead.
- Use an existing platform. The F-Alpha developed for the full-size Armada SUV and Titan pickup is used in a modified version (see http://www.autofieldguide.com/articles/100402.html).
- Limit bed sizes. One for the King Cab (73.3 in.); one for the Crew Cab (59.5 in.).
- Use one wheelbase. All pickups have a 125.9-in. wheelbase.
- Share parts with other models. The Frontier uses the Pathfinders front clip and doors. It and the Xterra share many interior pieces–including the instrument panel–with the Pathfinder. The available five-speed automatic transmission is derived from the IK unit used in the full-size Titan pickup.
- Build an award-winning plant. The Nissan North America Manufacturing plant in Smyrna, TN, is one of the most-productive assembly plants in the world.
- Nissan used to say "Dogs like trucks." Now they say "Real trucks have all-steel double-wishbone independent coil sprung front suspension, and over slung leaf spring solid rear axle, and a front anti-roll bar." Oh, and chrome.
- NISMO? That’s short for NISsan MOtor-sports. Both vehicles can be speced with a NISMO off-road package that includes Bilstein high-pressure gas shocks and 265/75R15 BF Goodrich tires on unique 16-in. alloy wheels.
- The steering system is an engine-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion design.
- Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS.
- The Frontier’s base engine is a 2.5 liter in-line four. Nissan expects most buyers to select the 4.0-liter VQ V6 built in Decherd, TN, that produces 265hp @ 5,600 rpm and 284 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm. It’s the standard engine for the Xterra and shared with the Pathfinder.
- Four-wheel limited slip, electronic locking rear differential, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) are available.
- Both vehicles have aluminum channels imbedded in the load floor to facilitate tying items down.
- Frontier has a spray-in bedliner.
- Xterra has an easy-to-clean floor finish.
- Frontier King Cab’s rear seats flip up for increased storage.
- Xterra’s rear seats flip forward for same.
- Front passenger seats on both vehicles can be folded forward (unless there’s leather trim).