Compact pickup truck; Built in USA
  • crew cab
  • ext. cab
  • reg. cab
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,700 – $9,500*

1999 Nissan Frontier King Cab SE 4WD

1999 Nissan Frontier King Cab SE 4WD

1999 Nissan Frontier V6 SE King Cab 4WD interior

2000 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab

2000 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab

  • Standard 4-wheel antilock brakes (selected models)
  • Control layout
  • Ride/handling
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Rear-only ABS on 2WD models
  • Rear-seat comfort

Neither the brawniest nor the most refined compact truck of them all, Frontier is still worth a close look. If the truck you find fits your needs, Frontier rates among the better small pickups.


Nissan gave its redesigned compact pickup truck a name, at long last. In the past, it was simply known as “Nissan Truck.” The seventh generation of small Nissan pickups in the U.S. market, this was the compact’s first real reworking since 1986. Frontiers were offered in three trim levels: base (regular-cab 2WD only), XE, and SE (extended King Cab only). Regular-cab models had a 6.5-foot cargo bed, and King Cabs got a 6.2-foot bed. Regular-cab Frontiers had a bench seat and XE King Cabs got a 60/40 split folding front bench, while bucket seats went into SE King Cab models. All King Cab trucks had side-facing rear jump seats.A new twin-cam 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine developed 143 horsepower (9 more than before). Two-wheel-drive Frontiers came with a 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic transmission, but initial 4x4s were manual-shift only. Frontiers with automatic got a column-mounted shifter. Towing capacity was 3500 pounds with a 5-speed, or an even ton with automatic. The part-time 4-wheel-drive system allowed shift-on-the-fly changes in and out of 4WD High at up to 50 mph, but was not intended for use on dry pavement. Except on upper models, hubs had to be changed manually. Four-wheel antilock brakes were standard on 4x4s, while 2WD models got rear-only ABS. The passenger-side airbag could be deactivated for use with a rear-facing child seat. Rivals included the Chevrolet S-10, Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, and Toyota Tacoma.

Yearly Updates

1999 Frontier
A V6 engine became available for 1999, borrowed from Nissan’s Pathfinder sport-utility vehicle. The V6 was offered in new 4-wheel-drive extended-cab “King Cab” models, in XE or SE trim. A 4-cylinder engine continued to power regular-cab models and other 2WD and 4WD King Cabs. All Frontiers offered either a manual or automatic transmission, except for 4-cylinder 4x4s, which were manual-shift only. V6-equipped 4x4s had automatic-locking front hubs, while 4-cylinder 4x4s retained manual hubs. Four-wheel antilock brakes were standard on 4x4s, the Desert Runner, and all Crew Cabs.
2000 Frontier
A Crew Cab model with independent, front-opening rear doors appeared for the 2000 model year. Crew Cab Frontiers had front bucket seats and a 3-person rear bench, but the cargo bed was only 4.6 feet long. An optional tube-frame enclosure extended the bed, allowing longer loads to be carried with tailgate down. Regular-cab trucks came only in XE trim with a 4-cylinder engine and 2-wheel drive. A V6 was standard in Crew Cabs and optional in King Cabs. Both of those came in XE or uplevel SE trim. Also new was the Desert Runner, a 2WD V6 King Cab built on the higher-riding 4×4 chassis (also used by Crew Cabs).
2001 Frontier
Frontier got a new 210-hp supercharged V6 engine, revised styling, and a few new options for 2001. Newly standard was a locking tailgate, and new options included leather upholstery, in-dash CD changer, and steering-wheel audio controls.
2002 Frontier
Frontier dropped its regular-cab body style for 2002, but became the first compact pickup with a crew-cab long-bed model. Also new for ’02 was a redesigned instrument panel and an available high-watt Rockford Fosgate-brand audio system.
2003 Frontier
Six-cylinder engine on 4WDs and Crew Cabs gained 10 horsepower. Antiskid system added in package with traction control and a tire-pressure monitor on 4WD XE and SE Crew Cabs.
2004 Frontier
No major changes were made to the Frontier in 2004.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

First-year Frontiers came with a 143-horsepower, 2.4-liter dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine. Starting in 1999, either the four or a 3.3-liter V6 was available, the latter producing 170 horsepower. Either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission might be installed. The 2001 SC models added a 210-hp supercharged V6 engine.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 143
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 154
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/201
Engine HP 170-180
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200-202
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Supercharged ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/201
Engine HP 210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 231-246
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Nissan’s coarse 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine does not have enough get-up-and-go for even base model 2WD regular cabs. However, manual-transmission clutch and shift actions are light and smooth and the automatic shifts crisply and kicks down quickly for more passing power. The new V6 engine made available for 1999 brought a welcome power boost for 4x4s, but was needed almost as much in 4×2 models. Though stronger than a 4 cylinder, however, the V6 engine still is less robust than most rivals. The Supercharged V6 introduced in 2001 gives Frontier a needed shot in the arm, even though it feels little faster than the top V6s in most rival compact pickups. A 4×4 King Cab V6 with manual shift took a leisurely 11.2 seconds to hit 60 mph, while the Supercharged V6 with automatic did 0-60 mph in an estimated 9.2 sec.

Ride and handling are strong points, both ranking with the best small pickups. Bumps are taken in stride, and there’s only moderate body lean in corners. Stopping power is only adequate with rear-only antilock braking, but swift and stable with the all-wheel system. Beware of the optional Off-Road Package, which makes the going a lot bouncier.

Frontier has a fresh, carlike interior. That’s pleasing, but the old-fashioned pull-out, umbrella-style hand brake is not. In addition, the automatic transmission’s column-shift lever interferes with wiper stalk and climate controls. Climate and radio controls are mounted high, and within easy reach. All told, the interior design is far more modern than that of Nissan’s previous pickup.

Front head and leg room are generous for even 6-footers. As in every other extended-cab compact pickup, the King Cab’s jump seats are child size. Crew Cabs, added for 2000, maneuver just as easily as King Cab models. The Crew Cab’s aft entryways are quite narrow, and there’s little leg room ahead of the hard back bench unless a front seat is shoved far forward. Entry/exit is good to the front, and 4WD Frontiers do not have as high a step-in as some competing 4×4 models. Interiors use plenty of hard plastic. All but the base 2WD model have front-door map pockets. Cloth trim on seats and door panels is more upscale than in the typical compact pickup.


Model Tested: 2002 Nissan Frontier SC Crew Crab 4WS, auto.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 3
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 4

Total: 38


crew cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
116.1 193.1 71.9 65.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
19.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 37.8 41.1 30.7
ext. cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
116.1 196.1 71.9 65.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 NA 41.4 NA
reg. cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 184.3 66.5 62.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.9 3
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 NA 40.9 NA
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Frontier reg. cab


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 100
Injury 97
Theft 57

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: Engine rattle at startup is corrected by installing new camshaft bolts and a timing-chain tensioner. (1998-99)
Engine noise
Description: Engine rattle after sitting overnight could require new cam bearing bolts and timing chain tensioner. (1998-99)

Recall History

1998 w/automatic transmission
Description: Securing pin inside transmission-control assembly of some trucks can loosen, allowing shift lever to be inadvertently moved out of the “Park” position with key in ignition.
1998 w/bucket seats
Description: In frontal crash, front seatbelt can slip between seat and seatback-recliner handle, where it can be cut by sharp edge of lever.
Description: Taillight socket may have been improperly molded, resulting in locking tab having insufficient force to retain bulb.
Description: 6 cylinder vehicles may have a cracked fuel-sending unit, causing the fuel pump to break. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
1999-03 w/V6 engine
Description: Fuel pump terminal on fuel-sending unit of vehicles in certain states may develop crack in plastic molding; if corrosion and breakage occur, fuel pump could stop operating, causing engine to stop running without warning or be unable to start.
Description: Fuel-tank shutter valves may be faulty on certain vehicles, resulting in possible fuel leakage. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
Description: Under certain conditions, on vehicles equipped with a supercharger, faulty airflow meters may have been installed, resulting in the illumination of the malfunction indicator lamp and decreased engine speed. Dealer will inspect and reprogram affected meters.
2002-2004 Frontier vehicles manufactured from July 9, 2001 through October 20, 2004
Description: Over time corrosion may form in the lower steering column joint and limit movement of the joint which may create excessive load on the lower steering column shaft. If the vehicle continues to be driven in this condition, it may lead to cracking of the shaft during low speed maneuvers that require large steering inputs. The shaft may break which could result in loss of steering control during these low speed maneuvers increasing the risk of a crash. The steering column shaft and joint will be replaced with a shaft of a different design. This service will be performed free of charge.
2003 XE
Description: Some vehicles may have spare tires with incorrect size rims, resulting in deteriorating brake performance. Dealer will inspect and replace affected rims.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.