2003-2004 Nissan Frontier S/C

Front Passenger Side View

The Nissan Frontier S/C is supercharged. Lest you forget, the front fenders are adorned with "SuperCharged" badges. If you missed those, fat decals on the rear flanks repeat the message. Inside, the leather sport seats wear stitching that reiterates the truck's superchargedness.

With all this warning, one would think that the Eaton blower bolted to the 3.3 liter V-6 might cause a black hole to form in the airbox under full throttle. But forced induction adds only 30 horsepower to the base engine's unremarkable 180 hp, so it's clear that the supercharger is designed to pressurize the truck's marketing campaign more than its intake manifold. If superchargers were called "dandywhooshers," the Frontier probably wouldn't have one.

All the supercharger braggadocio is consistent with the S/C's styling, however. The Frontier's aggressive mug takes a page out of the Dodge Ram playbook, and the plastic fender flares, with their ersatz exposed hex heads, contribute to the overall alien-industrial-Hot Wheels look. Robocop might not have been stuck driving a Taurus if these had been around in 1987.

The interior is sporty if not exactly Audilike in quality, which is something that can be said of many current Nissans. Some pieces, like the firm, comfortable seats and the fat little Momo-knockoff steering wheel, work great. Others, like the flimsy door handles that you must gingerly grab with two fingers, serve as reminders that this is a very old dish that's been garnished here and there with the parsley sprig of modernity.

Nissan chose Rockford Fosgate to supply the S/C's stereo. When car manufacturers want a premium sound option, they usually enlist high-end audio companies known for their home gear, but Rockford is the aftermarket brand of choice for people who view their cars as amp racks with wheels. If you wish to perforate your tympanic membranes while listening to 50 Cent, the Frontier's 9-speaker, 300-watt system may disappoint, but otherwise it holds its own against the best stock stereos out there. The only modification you'll want to make is peeling off (yet another) sticker on the back window that lets the world know there's a Rockford Fosgate stereo inside. Why not just affix a schematic showing where all the components are and the quickest way to steal them?

On the road, the S/C has decent urge, although acceleration is accompanied by loud supercharger whine. It actually handles quite well for a tall truck with a solid axle and leaf springs out back, and Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control system is available. A stability system is an unusual option for a compact pickup, but it perhaps makes even more sense on a truck than it does on a sports car like the 350Z, where the on-road limits are so much higher.

An optioned-up Frontier S/C 4X4 Crew Cab comes in around $28,000, but a 4X4 Crew Cab SVE-Supercharged Value Edition-starts at $24,419. The SVE has cloth seats and foregoes a few trim bits, but it comes with an option that should really be standard on all supercharged Frontiers: "bed side decal delete."

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