2013 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab pickup: Compact truck is good for work and play

The compact pickup truck sector has been declining in recent years as most truck maker’s upsize their products to meet growing demand. Big trucks alos command higher prices and more profits and so it is no surprise to see compact trucks such as the GM Colorado, Canyon- Ford Rangerand Mazda B Series sail off into the sunset. One survivor that recently came my way as a pleasant surprise is the compact NissanFrontier pickup.

For 2013 the brawny, substantial good looks still dominate and Nissan has added some more modern safety aids, like a backup camera and sonar parking sensors to the lineup.
Based on some engineering from the big Nissan Titan pickup, the Frontieris smaller and offered in a range of King Cab or Crew Cab body configurations and a choice of engines, rear or four wheel drive in S, SV, SL, and off-road-oriented PRO-4X models. The mid- range SL models are offered in Crew Cab form only. Significant changes include a navigation-system to the lineup, and a new Display Audio system for SV and PRO-4X models.

Note however there is sensibly in my opinion no thirsty V-8 engine on offer in the Frontier. Instead there is a base 2.5-liter, 152-horsepower four cylinder option or the 4.0-liter V-6 engine offering 261 horsepower. Both powerplants arrive with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

In this case our tester was the proper four- door Crew Cab PRO-4X version equipped with a V6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. Note the King Cab offer two small doors and two flip down jump seats, but it would be tight and uncomfortable for carrying passengers on a regular basis. I would recommend the Crew Cab with its full-size rear doors and more usable back seats as the more practical option. The pickup bed features a factory-applied spray-in bedliner, and the available Utili-Track cargo tie-down system which is very well designed. There is also a package that adds a trailer hitch, dual-zone climate control, a bed extender, and more.

Our PRO-4X looked very cool in its bright blue paint with PRO-4X graphics on the side pickup bed, front fog lamps,special chrome badging, chunky roof rails, upgraded off-road shocks, skid plates and huge BFGoodrich trail tires.

Access to the interior is just a light swing up and you are greeted witha spacious airy front cabin with a good, upright seating position. The interior and dash isstraightforward and feels a tad dated, but works fine nonetheless with clear instruments and controls. I like the new audio and navigationscreen that doubles as a screenfor the backup camera and the sonar warning for the parking assist system. The steeringwheel is set well and ergonomicallythe Frontier feels good. With plenty of storage in front with assorted cubbyholes and good visibility the Frontier is a good place to spend work and leisure time in. A power sun roof allows for more light in the cabin and a nice open air feel.

Our tester featured special front seats with the PRO-4X logo embroidered on the upper backrests. The rear compartment features a bench seat witha rather upright back and is tighter that the front in termsof leg room, you can fit three people in there at a squeeze, but is more of a comfortable two seater with tighter legroom

On the road the V6 is a willing, powerful sounding unit. Although the four-cylinder engine version is rated higher for fuel economy the V-6’s torque (a peak 281 lb-ft) wins out in my opinion helping in better acceleration, passing power and offering more flexibility and ease when carrying a full load of passengers and cargo. Towing capacities are unchanged for 2013, with the Frontier’s peak of a not too shabby 6,500 pounds. With aerodynamic improvements the same V6’s 261 hp and aforementioned 281 lb-ft of torque are a good match to the strong, slick automatic transmission.

Steering is communicative, and handling is confident, with good body control; but let’s not forget this is a pickup truck and unloaded the Frontier can feel choppy on rougher roads, although not as bad as bigger pickups. Once you load it up with passengers and cargo the Frontier’s ride settles down nicely. Overall I like the compact size, engine and overall packaging of the Frontier and it makes for an excellent work/play commuter truck if you need a pickup.Highly recommended. Auto review by Veeno Dewan.

2013 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew cab pickup priced from $34,948

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