Reaching the 150K Milestone in His Nissan Frontier

Larry Frontier 2
By Larry Edsall

I know, driving to Florida’s Gulf Coast isn’t the normal route from Michigan to Arizona, but I needed to visit my mother. So I was cruising past Exit 207 east of Sarasota on Interstate 75 when the odometer on my pickup truck clicked over from 149,999 to 150,000 and then on to 150,001 — and a few more clicks beyond.

Wowsers! One-hundred-and-fifty-thousand miles!

I’d never kept any vehicle long enough to see 100,000 miles show on its odometer, at least not until I bought this Nissan Frontier crew cab 4x4 in January 2000, about a month after moving from Michigan to Phoenix.

But then I’d never owned a pickup truck until I bought this one, an act that came as quite a surprise to my former co-workers at AutoWeek.

“But you hate pickup trucks!” one of them exclaimed after I shared news of my purchase.

“I didn’t buy a pickup truck,” I protested. “I bought a lifestyle vehicle.”

A few months before my move to from Midwest to far Southwest, I’d driven a Frontier from the Detroit press fleet to Nashville, Tenn., where my son was living. The truck was heavily loaded on the trip down but was all but empty on the way back. I was impressed with the ride quality during each trip, especially the lack of that basketball-style rear-end dribble I’d experienced in so many other pickups I’d driven as part of my duties as an automotive journalist.

Moving to Phoenix and knowing I’d want to explore unpaved portions of the Sonoran Desert — and often would have company visiting and riding along — the Frontier seemed a good choice for my new lifestyle. 

OK, what I really wanted was a production version of the Nissan Gobi concept truck, but in its place the Frontier crew cab proved to be a good choice for my new habitat. And not only for me, but for neighbors who borrow the truck from time to time for trips to places such as Lowe’s and Ikea. (These are great neighbors; they usually bring the truck back full of gas and often after they run it through a car wash.)

Larry Frontier 1
My Frontier has carried everything from some 1,200 pounds of gravel to all sorts of furniture and, lately, a quartet of kayaks.

Like Goldilocks, my Frontier is neither too big nor too small but just the right size, part of the reason why it not only showed 100,000 on its odometer but now 150,000. And I expect someday that figure will be 200,000. 

And if it gets that far, why not go for a quarter-million miles? Besides, there’s really nothing out there to take its place.

I might be in the minority, but I don’t believe I’m not the only one who thinks pickup trucks have become too large to meet all needs. It’s fine that half-ton trucks are big and strong, but I lament how compact pickups — the Frontiers, the Tacomas, the Dakotas and the S-10s — have become “mid” size and, in some configurations, even too long to leave clearance to close my garage door with one of them inside.

Not only does my Frontier fit nicely in my garage — with room to walk in front and behind it — but the bed sides are short enough that, at 5 feet 8 inches, I can reach over them to fetch stuff I’ve been hauling. One of my two sons-in-law (both of them are taller than 6 feet) owns a full-size Chevy Silverado, and I need a step ladder to access the bed of his truck. I recently did a weeklong test drive of a Ram Power Wagon and would have needed an extension ladder, or perhaps even a cherry picker to reach into its bed.

My truck didn’t come with a factory-installed towing package, but I’ve installed (well, my pickup-driving and mechanically adept son-in-law has installed) an aftermarket trailer hitch receiver kit. I’ve towed only two or three times with my truck, but I write a weekly feature for the Detroit News about automotive aftermarket products, and I often test and then write about products designed to plug into a hitch receiver.

Is my truck perfect? Not quite. Although I don’t do much towing, I would love to swap my 170-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 for its 261-hp, 4.0-liter successor and my four-speed gearbox for Nissan’s newer five-speed. I could use that extra power for driving up to Flagstaff or up and over the White Mountains in eastern Arizona, not to mention that climb up and over Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado. Although my truck averages 19.9 mpg in real-world driving — I’ve recorded every fill-up over the course of those 150,000 miles — I know those extra gears would mean even better fuel efficiency. 

Larry Frontier 5
Now, should anyone from Nissan, Toyota, Ram or GM — or even from Jeep, Ford, Volkswagen or Kia — read this and seriously consider producing a true compact pickup, please note that I don’t need factory-installed GPS or a 300-watt stereo. If I wanted such things, I can get them for less money from the aftermarket. Nor do I need redundant switches on the steering wheel. I can reach over and change radio stations the old-fashioned way, thank you.

However, I would like sun visors with extenders that cover the full length of the front window. A partitioned storage compartment under the rear seat and a rearview camera would be welcome as well. A front bench seat would be something I’d certainly consider, especially one with a seatback section that folds down to provide another storage compartment.

I also like my old-fashioned drop-in bedliner better than any of the spray-in versions I’ve seen, though it would be helpful if I didn’t have to remove the bedliner just to install new taillamps when the original ones finally burned out. 

And while we’re back there, I do wish there was a way to lock not only the tailgate but to better secure the rail-style bed extender that came as a option on my truck and that greatly enhances its capabilities to carry longish loads.

Until I can get all that in a new truck, I’m happily on my way to 200,000 — and beyond.


Funny- I've ever owned one vehicle I didn't put more than 150k on, and that was an S10 w/ a GM 2.8- took 2 motors and 2 transmissions just to reach 130. I wouldn't think there's any reason your Frontier wouldn't have another 150 left in it, especieally being out there in the nice weather.

I'm not what the point of this article is. I got nothing out of it except this guy is short and likes his truck.

Glad it works for you. There is certainly a market for the small compact pickups.

Not for me as I haul heavy and large.

I have a '95 Ford Ranger with 290,00+ miles on it.....

Slow news day?

I think this could be summed up easily their is a guy with a old school compact pickup with a lot of miles on it and he used it for pickup duties and wants some other auto makers to start making them again or he will keep his old school compact pickup till the wheels fall off because thats how he rolls. This is not news for sure please no more stories like this.


For a Nissan -150,000 miles is a milestone.

My 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited has 175,000 miles.

My parents have two Jeep Cherokees and a Grand Cherokee, 1987 & 1989 and 1996, with 220,000 & 160,000 and 145,000 miles.

My 1968 Ford Mustang G.T. has over 235,000 miles.

Any vehicle, even with marginal routine maintenance, can easily reach 150,000 miles. When the odometer clicks 200,000 miles, that is more of a milestone.

Some people are always complaining that there is no longer a new compact pickup, besides the Ford Ranger, available. How there would be lines of customers waiting to buy such a pickup.

Funny how the original (compact) Frontier did not have very strong sales. It was not until the Frontier grew, into it's current state, that sales finally took off.

Not exactly news, but more interesting than a story about the re-done cup holders in a Honda ridgeline for the upcoming model year.
There's a new editor here and this story is a reflection of that.

Nice write up, My roomate in college had a black truck just like it, it was a great truck he off roaded the heck out of it. I hope my Titan makes 150K, I'd buy a Frontier but being 6'8" I need to room, not neccessarily the capability.

Great article, good to hear stories of non-truck people finding the joy of owning a truck. And I agree with the author, there is no option for those who don't want/need a large truck. Hopefully someday there will be, but not for at least 5 years...

wake me up when this is over.

Hey, nothing whrong with this kind of story. Funny how a "truck hater" bought one and loves it. I do agree that not every guy wants or needs a full sized truck, but the manufacturer's don't seem to think there is big enough a market to be worth meeting. It could be just another case of the dinosaurs at Detroit not willing to change the way they do business.
I've driven and owned both small and full sized pickups. Right now, I can't see myself in a small truck.

weather is just getting cooler around sarasota, it's been hot for way too long. My F150 just hit 300k with 40" tires with the only real repair being a solid axle swap to replace the crappy ifs.

It's just a general interest story of a person who had a real good experience with his (foreign-brand) pickup truck. It could have been any brand where the owner had a great ownership experience.

But as a matter of fact, a friend of mine owns a general delivery service here in San Diego that his dad started way back when as the city was growing and expanding in the sixties.

His dad used domestic brand pickup trucks for the delivery service and when my friend took over the business back in the 80s he switched over to Datsun Kingcab pickup trucks with automatic transmissions, if anyone can recall that far back.

The difference was immediate because the Datsuns ran longer, stronger, with only rare breakdowns other than routine maintenance, than any of the domestic trucks ever did.

No wonder this guy continues to use Nissan pickup trucks in his business today, along with Nissan Vans and Nissan sedans.

Now that he is getting ready to hand over the business to his sons, I have no doubt they will also continue to use Nissan trucks as long as they remain trouble free and cheap to maintain.

You do realize there are people out there (like me) who can't afford brand new trucks. The stories about the latest and greatest in the world of pickups are great, but I'm probably not going to be able to afford a 2012 model for at least 5 years. As someone whose next truck will most likely be pre-owned, I enjoy hearing stories of the old reliables that just keep on chugging along.

Agree with 5.3 LOL.

Some of you people are truly idiots...

:says to self: "I don't know why I like to read this blog. Certainly I don't agree with those who post comments..."

@Mark Williams: Chin up. Shoulders back. Keep on.


I agree pickups today are too darn big. After purchasing my '11 F150, I received a survey from Ford. My response: decrease or otherwise improve every dimension or capacity by 10 percent. That would still let me tow 7200 lb, carry 1400 (half-ton?) and get nearly 22 mpg. Plus, it would fit in my garage. And if someone wants a bigger truck? Sell them a F250.

I always find the "it won't fit in my garage" comments rather amusing. My truck fits in mine with close to 6 feet to spare, but I'd prefer to leave it in the car port and keep all of my toys and tools in the garage.

I thought I was the only one still riding their 00 Frontier Crew. Mine just clicked 250K, Regular maintenance, few hairy ones, Head gasket, bad manifolds. bad carrier bearing third nissan so I knew what to expect. Drove her off the lot with 7 miles nearly 12 years ago. Don't dare replace her until something similar sized comes along. I love full sized pickups, i just don't need one for the occasional dead deer, ATV, cord of wood, mulch etc.

Wow 150,000 is nothing on a city truck. My 2000 2500 silverado has 270,000 km (170,000 miles) of bush work and heavy hauling. This is a what a truck is for. It all comes down to owner maintanence. My friends 1996 Chevy 2500 has 460,000 km. Please find more interesting news

Nothing wrong about this except it was categorized as news. Larry Edsall should have posted it in the forums.

There could be a separate thread for opinion posts like this, one for travel stories, and another one for politics, brand worship and .......never mind. I'll stick with the first 2 additions.

Some of these comments are ignorant. My first truck was a 1988 S10 that I got to 220K miles (even with the infamous 2.8L). I drove plenty of tri-axles and 1-ton pickups at work - but I didn't tow loaders on my own time back then and the small size, off-roadability, and fuel economy of the small truck were worth a lot back then. It pays to think of a truck like you'd think of a wrench - lots of different sizes and shapes for different tasks. This guy is every bit as much a truck guy as someone who tows a gooseneck all day - different truck, different task. Have some respect for him - if we all had exactly the same truck and used it for exactly the same job, we wouldn't have anything to talk about.

Mark Williams: not too technical; could have at least enumerated the maintenance costs! Nice photos: paint seems to be holding up, what kind of tires and life is he experiencing?
..Fuel pump ,Water pump, electrical? only admits that the rear lite bulbs are going. Puts the key in, turns it, and goes. If it breaks, he pays to have it fixed, can't remember how much, or for what! You sure Mark is a guy's name?

Good story. I don't understand the people who commented that they dont want stories like this. This looks to be a bonus article-- you'd be reading nothing if this article did not show up. You want nothing? Why not turn off your computer?

nice write up. lots of folks feel the same way about their small trucks. Couldn't be happier with my 2010 Supercab in Blue.

lol @ "another guy". Exactly what I was thinking ..........

Glad the nissan is holding up well for you. We had a Nissan Altima that had like 180 on it, 2 gear was gone but the transmission magically kept going somehow? I loved that car, my wife loved that car. traded it in, with all its flaws got ~ 2500 bucks for it. Seen it a week later driving down the road... lol guess the dealer wholesaled it to a used car lot, some unsuspecting person is going to be pissed!

I would be willing to wager many of you who complain about an article like this are the boring mutes I see in bars/sports bars sitting all by their lonesome in the corner since anything someone wants to say is "uninteresting". Get a life, nothing wrong with a man being proud of his truck and someone writing up about it. Why don;t you whiners write up about your own truck and send it in? Yeah, the shoe would be on the other foot then.


I gotta admit, my new F-150 will not fit in my garage, but I don't complain about it. I just bought a car port to put in the driveway!

@Nate M - I've always thought the whole "too big to fit in the garage" argument is a lame reason to use as metric for purchasing a truck.
That is the problem I find with new houses and building lots, they build a monster house on a tiny lot, if a vehicle won't fit in the garage, you're stuck parking on the street.
I'd rather pick a house more wisely than let that sort of thing dictate what I drive.

I agree that late model half-ton pickups are too 1) long, 2) wide, 3) tall

However, the worst tlhing is that they are only available with a slushbox auto trans. Can You believe it?? A pickup without a real gearshift transmission.

Perhaps thangs will get better and we can have a real transmission again

A note to "Buy American Or Say Bye To America", I looked at a Dodge Ram the other day, and right on the door sticker said, "made in Mexico". Sorry, Redneck, not much is made here any more. Oddly enough, my Toyota Tundra is made in TEXAS. Bone up on your knowledge, pal.

Mikey Mike-

You are the one that needs to be boned-up.

The Ram is made by a 47% American company. Mexico is 100% North American.

Toyota is a 100% Japanese company. The assembling, of the Tacoma/Tundra, in TEXAS is with a multitude of Japanese (shipped from Japan) components.

Undoubtedly, the Ram has a lot more U.S.A./North American pedigree than your Asian Toyota.

"...Sorry, Redneck, not much is made here any more...." -Mikey Mike

This sad fact is due to Yellownecks, such as yourself, that continue to support non-American companies.

Red, White, and Blue, baby!

@Buy American Or Say Bye To America!

Red, White, and Blue, baby!...

Are you saying to by British now? The US is not the only country with RWB.... I here this so much and it sounds so stupid every time.

Now I feel stupid, what is with my spelling these days. I am sure I spelt buy instead of by and hear instead of here. WTH

It's also good to have a large car or should I say truck. The bigger the car is the more things we can get in to it. Just make sure you garage can accommodate it.

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