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2012 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab SV 4X4 On and Off Road Test and Review By John Heilig

2012 Nissan Frontier (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Nissan Frontier

Compare Nissan Frontier - Nissan Buyers Guide


Model: 2012 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab SV 4X4
Engine: 4.0-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 261 hp @ 5,600 rpm/281 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 125.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 205.5 x 72.8 x 70.1 in.
Tires: P265/70R16
Cargo volume: 27.1 cu. ft. (cargo bed)
Fuel economy: 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway/13.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 21.1 gal
Curb weight: 4,431 lbs.
Sticker: $29,085 (includes $810 destination charge and $1,305 in options)

Top 5 Reasons To Buy This Car
1. Great off-road
2. Nice on-road performance
3. Comfortable
4. Roomy
5. Excellent pickup cargo capacity

The Bottom Line: The Nissan Frontier mid-size pickup truck proved itself to be an excellent off-road performer as well as a very good on-road performer. It had none of the expected pickup truck harsh ride and was very comfortable to sit in and ride in.

I really like off-roading. Not the kind where you creep along at zero mph over rocks and have to have someone spotting you so you don't seriously damage the undercarriage of the vehicle. No, the kind I like is where you actually drive off road.

I had the opportunity recently to do some off-roading on a ranch in Texas in a bunch of Nissan trucks - Frontier, Xterra and Titan. I must say, I enjoyed driving the Frontier the best.

Classified as a mid-size pickup truck, the Frontier has all the room one would want. Both off-road and in this on-road test, we had a crew cab model, with four doors and enough passenger capacity in the back for even the largest of passengers.

In Texas, we had the opportunity to drive on what was a game ranch. When we weren't there, people could come and hunt exotic animals, like zebras, wildebeests and elk.

But we were there, and had to endure the quizzical stares of these animals who were trying to understand what these crazy humans were doing.

We drove up and down washes, through mud puddles, along a stream that was high enough to reach the bottoms of the doors, we made serious ascents and descents, and in one "low-low" section did a little bit of rock crawling, but not the "need for a spotter" kind. When we were through, the Nissans were covered in mud, but they seemed to be smiling as much as we were.

Needless to say, I had a ball, as did the rest of the journalists who got to go along. We were in 4-wheel drive all the time, and I was impressed with how well the Frontier handled the conditions. Granted, I'm a city boy at heard and live in suburbia, but if I did have any occasion to go off-roading, I'd seriously consider the Frontier.

According to Nissan, Frontier 4X4 models are available with 4-wheel limited slip system, which helps transfer power to the drive wheels with more grip on low traction surfaces. The available Hill Descent Control (which we used in our low-low portion) feature allows slow hill descent without the constant application of the brake pedal. It takes nerve the first time, but once you learn to trust the truck, it's fun.

For example, one daughter and her family live in Virginia on about 10 acres of mostly woods. Their neighbor, however, has about 2,000 acres, and we have had occasion to tour his property. Most of it is 2WD accessible, but there are spots where logging companies have left their mark and we did some 4WD driving. My grandson loved it and keeps asking when we're going to get another car for him to ride in. Sadly, in this test, we spent it in Pennsylvania.

On-road, the Frontier behaved exceptionally. There was no pickup truck jounce that you experience in many trucks. Ride quality was very good and driving the Frontier on the highway or in town was no different than driving a large sedan with a 10-foot long wheelbase.

The engine and transmission had plenty of power to handle any circumstance, and when needed we could load up the bed with cargo and still have fold-down rear seat backs if we needed to carry more.

2012 The Auto Page

Editors Impressions of the Nissan Frontier

Last winter I was provided a Nissan Frontier to evaluate on one of my many trips from Denver “up the hill” to Vail.

The V-6 powered Frontier I drove had the power to effortlessly cruise up to over 10,000 feet on America’s highway in the sky.

As usually happens in the high country of Colorado, it snows in winter, and the Frontier handled both deep snow and icy conditions the way you would expect a well-engineered truck too…well.

The Nissan Frontier crew cab version I drove had a dual personality, macho where it was needed and smooth in town…with room for 5 adults, it more than held its own as a passenger carrier in Vail, the SUV capital of the world.

So if you are looking to buy a Pick-up with muscles and manners, make sure you test drive the Nissan Frontier.