10 Biggest News Stories of the Week: 4Runner, Frontier Excel Off-Road But Can’t Climb to Top

toyota 4runner venture edition 2020 04 angle  exterior  front  off road  red jpg 2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Edition | Manufacturer image

While the U.S. has not yet reached its peak in COVID-19 cases amid the ongoing pandemic and nationwide efforts to flatten the curve via stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, this is’s first nearly coronavirus-free countdown of our most popular news articles of the week since the outbreak began. Maybe all this has some car shoppers wary about what’s to come looking for vehicles that will carry them through a dystopian future, or maybe folks ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ but a good time, as the song says, but two off-road-fabulous trucks ranked high: the Nissan Frontier Pro-4X and Toyota 4Runner.

Related: 10 Biggest News Stories of the Month: Kia Seltos Can’t Even Come Close to Coronavirus

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Climbing to the No. 3 spot this week is reviewer Aaron Bragman’s take on the 2020 Nissan Frontier, a pickup truck on a somewhat confounding road to redesign — as the automaker took the engine of the all-new-for-2021 model and put it in the body of the the previous generation for 2020. The new 3.8-liter V-6, making 310 horsepower and 281 pounds-feet of torque channeled through a new nine-speed automatic transmission transplanted from its Titan sibling, boasts a sizable boost in power over the outgoing model. Bragman didn’t get into the off-the-asphalt abilities of the Pro-4X model he tested, but he did note that if you’re a certain kind of truck shopper, the Frontier may be the last frontier for you.

nissan nissan frontier pro4x 2020 2020 04 exterior  maroon  rear angle jpg 2020 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X | photo by Aaron Bragman

“For fans of old-school Japanese trucks, it will be the last of its kind, older as it is than even the popular but dated Toyota Tacoma,” Bragman writes. “To be able to get that old-school Japanese truck design with a fully updated powertrain and slightly better fuel economy presents a very intriguing package indeed.”

Meanwhile, our rapid-fire rundown of the pros and cons of the 2020 version of another off-road-inclined favorite, the Toyota 4Runner, took the No. 4 position. Some of the things we like about this icon of rugged outdoorsiness, truck-based, body-on-frame SUV: its off-road prowess (natch), all-weather readiness, standard safety equipment, modern tech features and roomy interior. In the minus column: a clunky driving experience, poor fuel economy, loud exhaust and steep step-in height.

4runner trd pro angle  exterior  green  rear  urban 05 jpg 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro | photo by Brian Wong

You can decide how you’d get on with these off-roaders by following the links below. Rounding out the top five, meanwhile, are our primer on how long you should expect the spark plugs in your car to last at No. 1, a federal safety recall of nearly 12,000 model-year 2020 Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles and Sonata sedans for a problem with the Remote Smart Parking system at No. 2 and news on when compact SUV shoppers can expect to see the redesigned-for-2021 Nissan Rogue arriving at dealerships at No. 5.

2020 nissan rogue 22 red exterior jpg 2020 Nissan Rogue | Manufacturer image

Beyond that, we’ve got news and reviews on the Toyota Tacoma, Cadillac Escalade, Hyundai Palisade and Ford F-150 (along with this week’s lone piece of coronavirus coverage), so keep reading. Here are the top 10 news stories readers couldn’t get enough of in the past week:

1. How Long Do Spark Plugs Last?

2. 2020 Hyundai Nexo, Sonata: Recall Alert

3. 2020 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Review: Same Face, New Guts

4. 2020 Toyota 4Runner: 5 Pros and 4 Cons

5. Redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue Release Date Still on Schedule

6. 2020 Toyota Tacoma: What’s Changed

7. 2021 Cadillac Escalade Price Up Just $1,000: Ain’t It Grand?

8. What Does It Cost to Replace Wheels and Tires on a Hyundai Palisade?

9. The Coronavirus Is No Excuse to Drive Like an Idiot

10. 2020 Ford F-150 Review: Still Good, Even After Competitors Are Redesigned

04 ford f 150 lariat diesel 2019 cl jpg Ford F-150 Lariat Diesel | photo by Christian Lantry’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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