Car Post for May Number One: Nissan Frontier. Four Cylinder Engine. Discuss.

Note: This post is unfunny. I am actually making a point. See the May 4 post for attempts at humor.

The purpose of a compact truck, to my understanding, is for better fuel efficiency through smaller size, and/or off-road capability.

The Nissan Frontier answers the off-road capability question with a Pro 4X package which gives it good off-road capability.

With the second one, its four-cylinder work truck model has the smallest and least-efficient engine in its class. It struggles out 21 mpg with only 152 horsepower with manual transmission, versus 22 mpg and 159 horsepower for the Toyota Tacoma, and 143 horsepower and 23 mpg with the Ford Ranger. Properly equipped, a Chevy Colorado gets only 20 mpg–but does so with 190 horsepower, a 38-horsepower spread between the ‘Rado and the Fronty. To put that in perspective, the difference between the power of the base Frontier engine and the Chevrolet Colorado’s is one-horsepower more than the horsepower rating of the original 1959 Datsun pickup.

The Frontier’s weight is partly to blame; it’s the heaviest compact truck you can buy, but that makes it even weirder that its base engine is so weak. I mean, seriously, when are they going to offer a better base engine for this truck? Add a turbocharger, increase cylinder bore, anything.  People are complaining about having to whip the snot out of the Frontier four to get any power, killing mileage in the process. This truck’s engine is literally so small that it reduces overall fuel economy.

Finally, I’d like to point out that when the Ford F-150 debuts its Ecoboost V-6 engine, it’ll get around 19-20 mpg with an automatic–with over 400 horsepower. Currently, the four-cylinder Frontier struggles out 19 mpg–at best–with automatic.

So what’s the point of the Nissan Frontier, again? To me, it’s like the Dodge Dakota as it is–bad mileage, too heavy, and at least one engine that’s too weak. What should Nissan do with this truck? Leave answers below.


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