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
2013 Nissan Frontier
5-seat mid-size pickup †
Crew cab or king cab
Rear-, or four-wheel drive
S, SV, SL, Desert Runner, PRO-4X
2.5L I4 (152 hp/171 T)
4.0L V6 (261 hp/281 T)
EPA: 17/16 mpg city, 23/22 mpg highway (I-4/V-6 RWD with A/T)
FUEL: Regular unleaded
Vehicle Dynamic Control
LENGTH: 205.5 inches
WHEELBASE: 125.9 in.
WIDTH: 72.8 inches
HEIGHT: 68.7/69.7 inches (RWD/4WD)
WEIGHT: 3708-4406 lbs.
FUEL TANK: 21.1 gallons
TIRES: 15-, or 16-inch
TOWING: Up to 6,500 pounds.