I really like the mid-size truck format. Iíve never really needed a ďbigĒ truck and my family will tell you they could sell tickets to see me try and park a full-size pickup in a crowded parking lot.

Plus, Iíve never subscribed to the theory that bigger is better when it comes to automobiles. Itís one thing if you have a need and are using the truckís capabilities on a regular basis. But having a big truck just because it looks cool always seemed a little silly.

Thatís why Iíve always been partial to the mid-size pickup format. It has the versatility of a pickup, yet itís easier to drive (and park), gets better fuel economy ó and, in the case of the Nissan Frontier, itís actually well-suited for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy off-roading or getting away to those remote campsites, fishing and hunting spots.

This week I had the chance to evaluate the 2013 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X.

Available in king cab and crew cab body styles, the five-passenger 2013 Frontier has a base price starting below $18,000.

Buyers have their choice of rear- or four-wheel configurations, as well as the option of two available engines.

For those who donít need the additional power for towing or hauling, a 2.5-liter I-4 engine (152 horsepower/171 lbs.-ft. torque) is available on rear-wheel drive models and has an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city, 23 mpg highway.

The base Frontier engine is Nissanís 4.0-liter V-6, producing 261 horsepower and 281 lbs.-ft. torque. It has an EPA rating of 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway (15/21 respectively for four-wheel drive models).

For the 2013 model year, Nissan provided a number of enhancements to the Frontier, primarily enhanced fuel economy thanks to engine refinements and improved aerodynamics. There is also a new Desert Runner trim level available in both King Cab and Crew Cab body styles, which includes 16-inch off-road wheels, Bilstein off-road shocks, unique seat cloth with embroidered logos and fog lights.

Other Frontier trim levels include the S, SV, SL and PRO-4X.

One of many things I enjoyed about the Frontier during my one-week evaluation was its high level of equipment.

I can remember the days when mid-size pickups were very utilitarian. Those days are over.

For example, the Frontier SL models include rearview backup monitor with sonar, navigation, dual zone automatic climate control system, automatic on/off headlights and an additional 12-volt power outlet.

The SV models add Sirius XM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. †

The Frontier has a lot of features that make it a comfortable, nice ride for everyday use ó as well as the capabilities when you need it as a work truck or to head off into the great outdoors. I was also impressed with the leg, head and shoulder room in the rear seat of my crew cab test truck.

For those in the market for a mid-size pickup, I highly recommend the Nissan Frontier for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts

MODEL:

2013 Nissan Frontier

5-seat mid-size pickup †

Crew cab or king cab

Rear-, or four-wheel drive

Trim packages:

S, SV, SL, Desert Runner, PRO-4X

PRICE RANGE:

$18,000-$35,000

ENGINE:

2.5L I4 (152 hp/171 T)

4.0L V6 (261 hp/281 T)

TRANSMISSION:

5-speed manual

6-speed manual

5-speed automatic

EPA: 17/16 mpg city, 23/22 mpg highway (I-4/V-6 RWD with A/T)

FUEL: Regular unleaded

STABILITY CONTROL:

Vehicle Dynamic Control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 205.5 inches

WHEELBASE: 125.9 in.

WIDTH: 72.8 inches

HEIGHT: 68.7/69.7 inches (RWD/4WD)

WEIGHT: 3708-4406 lbs.

TRACK: 61.8/61.8

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 21.1 gallons

TIRES: 15-, or 16-inch

TOWING: Up to 6,500 pounds.