When Nissan came to pick up our blue Frontier, there were people on our staff who had to double-check the calendar just to make sure we hadn't been shortchanged of our full year. Unfortunately, the calendar proved we had the Nissan longer than the year we were scheduled; as they say, "time flies." With 14,190 miles of testing on the odometer, we were left just as impressed after four seasons as we were when we first drove it.
Littering the logbook from the past year were kudos for the Frontier's excellent powertrain and suspension tuning, which made for a nimble truck that is fun to drive on the pavement as well as dirt. The slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission and quiet, comfortable interior made eating up highway miles effortless. With the Bilstein shocks, 32-inch BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires, and a driver-selectable rear locker, the Frontier proved to be as sure-footed as a South American llama on the trails, so in Death Valley we fed the Frontier with a steady diet of low-speed crawling and high-speed whoops, which it ate up like rock candy and kept asking for more.
Despite great running ground clearance of 10 inches, we wished the body was a bit higher, and testers noted slightly low-rent interior materials (which turned out to be easy to clean and very durable). The King Cab body style proved to be a bit tight for more than two, and with identical wheelbases, we think we'd choose the Crew Cab version if we had to do it again.
Our Frontier never let us down during our test and the only area of annoyance was some squeaking from the heavily used suspension, which we never were quite able to pinpoint. We also experienced a tire-pressure warning that reset itself after we added the requisite air to the tires, and a rear door that fell out of alignment after some particularly nasty two-tracks.
After a year of real-world use and a proven track record for reliability, there is no doubt why we have selected the Frontier NISMO as one of our 10 Best Buys in Four-Wheel Drive the last two years. This is one of the best trucks available today, and not one of us on staff would hesitate to put one in our own garage.
We're going to miss our Frontier NISMO. It took us places well off the pavement with confidence, such as on Pickup Truck of the Year where we used it as a support vehicle.
Report: 4 of 4
Previous reports: Jan. '06, Apr. '06,July '06
Base price: $22,100
Price as tested: $26,050
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic part-time two-speed
Miles to date: 14,200
Miles since last report: 1,883
Average mpg (this report): 17.31
Test Best tank (mpg): 18.85
Test Worst tank (mpg): 11.70
This period: None
Problem areas: Squeaky suspension, rear door alignment
What's Hot,What's Not
Hot: Drivetrain is still outstanding in its class, and the factory bedliner with the tie-down and rail system keeps our junk from sliding around the bed. Mostly we love how well the Nissan does in the dirt-a very competent and confidence-inspiring machine, even to the 'wheeling novice.
Not: A lack of clearance at the rocker panels has gotten us a bit nervous on rocky trails, and the dash could be a bit nicer, but other than that, it is tough to find fault with this pickup.
* "Left-side rear door is out of alignment-too hard on truck in Death Valley?"
* "I'd sacrifice some bed space for the people-hauling comfort of the Crew Cab."
* "Shock valving works best at high speed."
* "Squeak, squeak, squeak-something in the rear springs."
* "What a great truck-this is one I am going to miss having in the fleet."
* "Does Nissan do employee discounts for us?"