Nissan has the longest history in the U.S. among import automakers of selling compact and midsize pickup trucks. Its current small truck, the Frontier, is available with a choice of four-cylinder or V-6 power, and rear- and four-wheel-drive versions are offered. With seating for four or five depending on the cab style, the Frontier competes with the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline.
A new off-road-oriented Desert Runner trim level debuts for 2013. Available with rear-wheel drive, the Desert Runner features off-road-styled 16-inch alloy wheels, Bilstein-brand off-road shocks, fog lights, special decals and badging, and unique seat cloth with embroidering. There’s also a new Value Truck Package that brings amenities like floormats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, a bed extender, a trailer hitch, a spray-in bedliner, tie-down points and fog lamps.
Nissan says the 2013 Frontier should get better gas mileage thanks to lower engine friction and better aerodynamics thanks to sealing between the cab and truck bed, a lower front spoiler, wind deflectors for the rear tires and a tailgate spoiler.
The Frontier is available only in King Cab (extended cab) and crew-cab body styles, with crew-cab SV and SL models offering a long-box option that measures 13 inches longer than the standard bed. Exterior features include:
- Tough PRO-4X and Desert Runner appearance
- Off-road-worthy approach/departure angles
- Muscular but not excessive wheel flares
- Available factory spray-in bedliner
- Available adjustable tie-down system
- Available roof rack on crew-cab models
- Available power moonroof
- Locking tailgate
All models have supportive, comfortable front bucket seats. Adults have adequate legroom in the rear of the crew cab. Leather seating and a Rockford Fosgate premium stereo are available. The PRO-4X and Desert Runner trucks have unique interiors with custom seating. Interior features include:
- Removable underseat storage
- Easy-to-read gauges
- Two glove boxes
- Available heated front seats
- Available navigation system
Mechanical features include:
- Base engine is a 152-horsepower, 2.5-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft inline-four-cylinder that makes 171 pounds-feet of torque
- 261-hp, 4.0-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft V-6 that makes 281 pounds-feet of torque
- Choice of a manual or automatic transmission
- Available electronically controlled, shift-on-the-fly, part-time transfer case
- Electronic locking rear differential (PRO-4X)
The Frontier offers side curtain airbags as standard equipment and a standard electronic stability system.
Hill start assist and hill descent control comes on all four-wheel-drive models with an automatic transmission. Hill descent control allows slow hill descent without constant pressure on the brake pedal. Hill start assist allows the driver to stop on an incline, release the brake and not roll back for two seconds as the driver’s foot moves to the accelerator pedal. Additional safety features include:
- All-disc antilock brakes
- Optional backup camera