1997 NISSAN PICKUP
Used Truck - 1997 Nissan Pickup in Nicholasville, Ky
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1997 Nissan Pickup ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
A lotta truck for not a lotta bucks.
Buyers expect a lot from small pickups. In some ways they expect more from a truck than they would demand from a car. Pickups are expected to carry loads, go off road, and take the abuse of construction sites and vacation trips. At the same time, they are expected to be reliable, comfortable and good looking. Filling all those needs is a tall order.
Careful shoppers can go from Toyota to Isuzu, with stops at Mitsubishi and Nissan, in search of their ideal truck. Or they can add Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet and GMC to their itineraries.
Nissan is an experienced player in this game. Ever since the days of boxy Datsuns, the company has had at least one small hauler available. Though the product has evolved as the needs and tastes of buyers have changed, basic elements--small size, durability, and value--have remained constant.
Some years ago, Nissan took a gamble. The company decided that appearance would play an increasing role in the truck-buying process. So a bundle of money was invested in a reshaped truck penned by the designers at Nissan's California studio. The result was the Hardbody--now called the Nissan Truck. Controversial at first, it's now a proven design.
New option packages and a higher level of standard equipment make the Nissan Truck one of the best values among compact pickups.
By today's standards, the Nissan Truck seems tame. It has rounded corners and bulging fenders, all neatly executed. The shape's longevity can be attributed to its basic understatement; unlike most faddish styling jobs, the Nissan Truck was, and still is, free of obsolescence-prone add-on frills.
This year all Nissan Trucks are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. This engine generates 134 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 154 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3600 rpm. It gives away some smoothness and power to some of the competition in return for bulletproof reliability and low cost. The Nissan can tow trailers up to 3500 lbs.
This is one of the most powerful standard engines among the compact trucks, though it's topped by the Toyota Tacoma's 142-hp engine.
The V6 engine offered last year is not available this year due to emissions regulations.
XE and SE models come with two- or four-wheel drive. The top-of-the-line King Cab SE is fitted with automatic locking front hubs, while XE models require the driver to get out and engage the front hubs manually before going off-road.
Power steering and rear-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard on all models. All 4X4 models with manual transmissions come with a clutch-interlock cancel control that allows you to start the engine on hills without pressing the clutch pedal.
Cabs and cargo beds are offered in two sizes. The Standard cargo bed is just over six feet long; the Long Bed adds more than 15 inches to that.
Two colors were added to this year's palette: Autumn Sunburst and Starfire Blue Pearl, which join Aztec Red, Cherry Red Pearl, Pacific Blue, Vivid Teal, black, gold, gray and white.
The Regular Cab is just that; it provides space for two or three people, with little storage space behind the seats. Regular Cab trucks come with cloth bench seats, which are advertised as, but not very comfortable, for three riders.
The King Cab is larger, providing a 14.4 cu. ft. cargo area behind the seats or, when optional jump seats are installed, temporary accommodations for two more passengers. King Cabs get cloth bucket seats.
The Standard Regular Cab 4X2 Truck is stark and utilitarian to the extreme with a vinyl-covered floor.
The Regular and King Cab XE models and the top-of-the-line King Cab SE are far cozier with full carpeting and a premium grade of cloth. A wide range of options are offered to further civilize the cab, but appearance and comfort basics are in place regardless of model.
Whether Regular or King, the Nissan cabs are comfortable and attractive. A car-like dashboard houses a speedometer, a fuel gauge and a water temperature gauge. Higher trim lines include a tachometer.
A driver's-side airbag, three-point seat belts and side intrusion beams are standard.
On or off the highway, Nissan Pickups are pleasant to drive. The power steering combines low effort with good feel, the ride is firm but not unpleasant. Like most pickups, these trucks ride better with a load in the bed than when empty.
The suspension consists of independent struts with torsion bar springs and a 23-mm anti-roll bar up front with a solid axle and leaf springs in the rear. This sturdy combination gives the Nissan a smooth, car-like feel, while giving it the ability to conquer the most challenging off-road terrain. With their stiff suspensions, the 4X4 models feel a bit bouncy when going over bumps and road irregularities.
While the 4X2 Regular Cabs can turn around in a 33.5-ft. circle, the 4X4 King Cab requires 38.7 feet to do the same, which requires a little getting used to.
For many people, all-day trips in pickup trucks are not comfortable, but the Nissans are much better in this regard than most other small trucks.
They are, of course, equipment-sensitive: You will want the King Cab with its bucket seats if long hours behind the wheel are anticipated. For a personal use truck and general transportation the King Cab is the way to go. Regular Cab trucks are best used primarily as work trucks.
Other, more practical matters to consider when choosing a Nissan are construction details. Long Bed and 4X4 models have additional reinforcement to their steel ladder-type chassis, a good feature to have in times of heavy loading or off-road stress.
All Nissan pickup beds are double-walled for strength. The King Cab models come standard with plastic bedliners, which are available as a dealer-installed accessory package on the Regular Cab models.
Beyond practical considerations, there's little to do except look at the various equipment levels, plus individual and package options. Some represent genuine good value: The XE Value Truck package is a no-cost option for all XE models that includes air conditioning, an AM/FM/cassette sound system, aluminum alloy wheels with P215/70R-14 tires, black windshield molding, black grille, black bumper, variable intermittent wipers, locking glove compartment, ash tray, glove compartment lights, tachometer, trip odometer and digital clock; that package cost $995 last year, adding considerable value. The Comfort Package that comes with it adds a tilt steering column and cruise control.
The SE King Cab is Nissan's best-equipped and most luxurious truck. It comes with everything in the XE Value Package plus power windows and door locks, cruise control, alloy wheels and a sunroof. This makes the SE is an excellent choice for weekday and weekend use.
The Nissan pickup is entering its 10th year and we expect to see a new model introduced later this year. The current model continues to be a solid truck, however. It comes with a beefy chassis, a powerful driveline and a body that is still stylish and distinctive.
Somewhere in the Nissan Truck line is a pickup for almost everyone. The XE is a refined alternative to an economy car and with no-cost options packages added in, it comes with a high level of standard equipment making it a good value.
Without being the fastest or the flashiest trucks around, the Nissans are well-suited to handling whatever chores are assigned to them. It might be a good idea to shop elsewhere for the ultimate in off-road performance, but Nissan offers a lot of truck for a relatively small price.
SE 4WD King Cab.