A potent new 3.3-liter V6 engine headlines the changes to the Nissan Frontier 4x4s for the 1999 model year, along with a number of interior and exterior enhancements to all 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive Frontiers. The new engine will be available only in 4x4 King Cab models and will be offered with a choice of standard 5-speed manual or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission.
“The Frontier is offered in the fullest range of models, drive configurations and now engines – giving Frontier buyers the widest selection of value-packed Nissan trucks to choose from,” said Michael Seergy, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division. “Frontier powered its way to the ‘Best Compact Pickup’ ranking in the most recent J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. Now we add power to the lineup with the addition of the new top-of-the-line 4x4 SE-V6 King Cab and rugged 4x4 XE-V6 King Cab.”
Engine and Driveline
The new V6 engine is the most powerful ever offered in a Nissan truck. Producing 170 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 200 ft-lbs of torque at 2,800 rpm, it makes 11 percent more horsepower and torque than the last V6 offered in a Nissan truck in the United States. The engine was specifically developed to have a broad, flat torque curve, developing 90 percent of its maximum torque at a low 1,500 to 1,800 rpm range, delivering much of its power where it is most useful for off-roading and towing.
The new engine, based on the 3.3-liter V6 found in the Nissan Pathfinder, has been retuned for use in the Frontier. The engine features Nissan’s SOFIS (Sophisticated Optimized Fuel Injection System) to optimize the air/fuel mixture under all driving conditions and at all altitudes. The SOFIS system senses and corrects fuel flow delays inside the intake ports and adjusts both fuel flow and the air/fuel mixture as needed. This enhances both performance and fuel economy.
A smooth-shifting 5-speed manual transmission is standard on both 4x4 V6 models, and an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic with overdrive is available as an option.
All V6 4x4 Frontiers come equipped with a standard 2-speed transfer case and automatic locking hubs, which allow the driver to roll into 4-wheel drive at speeds of up to 50 mph without stopping or exiting the vehicle.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the new V6 are 19 mpg Highway/16 mpg City for 5-speed manual equipped Frontiers and 19 mpg Highway/15 mpg City Frontiers equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission.
The rugged exterior styling of the Frontier only hints at the strength underneath the surface. The traditional full ladder frame offers exceptional rigidity, benefiting from a number of measures taken to enhance torsional strength and resistance to twisting. Among these enhancements are a plate that is welded to the rear cross section of the frame, an integrated second cross member to reduce floor vibration, and a steering member and bracket that are shaped to improve column rigidity.
The Frontier’s bed is the largest and deepest in class (17.1 inches), featuring double wall construction so dents and dings in the bed won’t show up on the exterior. The bed offers one-hand tailgate operation and an innovative flexible loading system too.
Along with two-tier loading (the bed can be separated into upper and lower parts by horizontally laying a partition board), the bed can be divided into front, middle and rear compartments by vertically laying partition boards into the special holder slots. Inner tie-down hooks also are standard. Every Frontier carries a 1,400-pound payload.
Standard on all SE-V6 Frontiers is a new body-color trim package, featuring a number of body-color components, including: front bumper (with chrome trim), dual outside mirrors and fender flares, along with standard black finish step rails and fog lights. All XE-V6 models are equipped with flat black finish fender flares, bumpers and outside mirrors.
The Frontier’s interior was designed to be car-like in the areas of comfort, convenience and safety – without compromising the utility and functionality that attracts buyers to the truck category in the first place. Through use of formed door trim with large utility pockets and a steering column-mounted automatic shifter lever, the interior feels spacious and refined. Standard amenities range from cup holders and adjustable seat belt shoulder rings to coin holders and an LCD odometer with dual trip meters.
The cloth front bucket seats found in the SE-V6 (optional on XE-V6) feature a special seat frame design and optimum back spring positioning – helping reduce driver fatigue, especially over long drives. A standard 60/40 split bench front seat is offered in the Frontier XE-V6. Both bench-type and bucket seats are equipped with adjustable head restraints. Side-mounted and side-facing rear jump seats are standard on all King Cab models.
Available interior comfort and convenience features range from power windows and door locks to advanced audio systems with compact disc player and a 5-speaker audio system with subwoofer.
Suspension, Steering and Braking
Frontier’s front suspension blends crisp handling and a car-like ride through a careful blending of spring and shock absorber rates, resulting in the best ride quality a Nissan truck has ever offered. Its solid road feel comes from a combination of an independent double wishbone with torsion bars front suspension with standard stabilizer bar and a solid axle with multi-leaf spring suspension at the rear.
All Frontier V6s feature standard power-assisted front vented disc/rear drum brakes with a 3-channel/4-sensor 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – specifically designed to minimize pedal kickback. The system also uses a special G-sensor that “reads” the road surface and adjusts braking control accordingly – overcoming the “skimming” effect caused by loose traction surfaces such as dust, gravel and sand. To help prevent wheel lockup and maintain steering control while braking, the system pumps up to 18 times per second. Also standard on both V6 models is power-assisted recirculating ball-type steering.
Frontier SE-V6 is equipped with stylish 15-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels fitted with beefy P265/70R15 steel-belted radial tires and XE-V6 models feature standard 15-inch styled steel wheels equipped with P235/70R15 tires. The SE-V6’s aluminum-alloy wheels, with P265/70R15 tires, are available as an option on Frontier XE-V6.
Frontier 4x4 V6 models are rated to tow 5,000 pounds when equipped with an automatic transmission, while manual transmission-equipped Frontiers have a 3,500 pound towing rating.
Every Frontier comes with many standard safety features, including front supplemental air bags with a key-type on/off switch for the passenger side.
The 1998 Frontier is designed with hood buckling creases, front crumple zone, pipe-style side-door guard beams, energy-absorbing steering column and 3-point ALR/ELR seat belt system (front passenger only).
Manufacturing and Quality
In its first year of eligibility, Frontier earned the top rating in the compact pickup truck segment in the J.D. Power and Associates 1998 Initial Quality Study (IQS2), a survey that polls owners about vehicle quality during the first 90 days of ownership.
The 1999 Frontier is the third generation Nissan Truck manufactured at Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corporation U.S.A. (NMMC) in Smyrna, Tenn.
All 1999 Nissan Frontier models are covered by a comprehensive 3-year/36,000-mile “bumper-to-bumper” Limited Warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile Limited Corrosion Warranty and a Lifetime Limited Seat Belt Warranty.