Think superchargers, and chances are you’ll conjure images of a big 6-71 “Jimmy” or similar blower perched atop an American V-8, staged and ready for the “Christmas tree”. Drag racing did much to popularize supercharging but the bottom line was, and is, power. Used on racing cars for decades, few consumer cars or light trucks have employed supercharging. One of the few is the 2001 Nissan Frontier SC pickup, which teams an Eaton blower with Nissan’s 3.3 litre V-6 to produces 210 horsepower (40 more than the normally aspirated V-6) and 245 ft.-lbs. of torque. The Frontier S/C is a compact pickup, and the power numbers translate into very crisp acceleration and the ability to drive at a wide variety of speeds without spinning the engine anywhere near its 5800 RPM redline. The SSGM test 4X4 Frontier Crew Cab SC carries an extensive list of standard features, from air conditioning, power locks, windows and mirrors to a limited slip rear differential, four-wheel ABS, cruise control, keyless remote entry and a six-speaker stereo with CD changer. Wheels are alloy, including the full size spare, and wear P265/55 R17 Firestone Firehawk GTA’s which give the SC enough lateral grip to scare the more adventurous drivers of the tall Nissan. The suspension is by traditional solid axle and leaf springs in the rear, and a double wishbone system in the front with a very stout knuckle assembly with large ball joints and tie rod ends.
Servicing the Frontier SC will be an easy exercise with it’s traditional layout and easy to access fill points. The distributor is up front and easy to access despite the supercharger. Spark plugs are mounted inside the intake valley, and wires are protected by the same split wrap that covers the rest of the engine harness. Fuses and relays are logically laid out and easy to replace. Even the A/C fill ports are located high on the firewall, and close to the left front fender for easy access.
The Crew Cab body gives ample room for four and adequate space for five, while the interior is finished much like a modern mid-size sedan with steering wheel mounted controls for the speed control system and a very car-like seating position, despite the vehicle’s height. The box is steel, and is equipped with four tie-down points, and as in other crew-cab pickups is a compromise between the need for a garageable wheelbase and cargo volume.
Complaints with the well executed Frontier SC are few. A locking door over the filler would be nice. The choice of tires is another matter of taste, as a vehicle with serious off-road potential ought to have tires with some trail capability. Of course, tires are probably the easiest aspect to change in a vehicle. The Nissan Frontier SC is a powerful vehicle with plenty of performance and towing capacity, combined with proper off-road design and a roomy, usable cabin. And there’s something about the cachet of an engine that’s “supercharged.”SSGM