My Pickup: My New Nissan

LE Frontier 1 II

Editor's note: My Pickup will be an occasional PUTC feature in which we invite readers, industry associates, friends and colleagues to write about their own pickups, either currently owned or from their past.

By Larry Edsall

When my son-in-law sold my 175,000-mile, 2000 Nissan Frontier out from under me last winter, I considered several options for its replacement.

After more than a decade, I'd been thinking it was time for a new vehicle, but when I drove from Arizona to Michigan in December 2012 on a two-week book research project, I didn't know my daughter's neighbors were looking for a well-maintained 4x4 and that I'd be driving home in a rental car.

The 2000 Frontier was my first pickup truck, and I've learned that once you've had a pickup, you cannot imagine life without one. I really liked the new Ram with its strong but fuel-efficient V-6 engine/eight-speed transmission powertrain, but at 5-foot-8 I can't reach into the bed of a full-size truck, nor will one fit into my surprisingly short garage.

Besides, I was very happy with my Frontier, and because I write about cars and have press-fleet vehicles to test, I could wait until the 2013 Frontiers were available.

And so I bought another Frontier, this time a two-wheel-drive SV crew cab rather than a four-wheel pickup. Not only did the two-wheel drive save money up front, there's no transfer case to maintain.

The factory-installed $1,900 SV Value Truck Package added rear sonar and rearview camera, dual-zone climate controls, fog lamps, bedliner, Utili-track channels with four adjustable tie-down cleats, a Class IV receiver hitch, sliding bed extender, interior mirror with compass and temperature display, vehicle security system, floor mats and cabin air filter.

I had the dealer install a set of side step rails, which had been standard equipment on the truck I bought 13 years earlier.

Standard equipment now includes 118 more horsepower, an extra gear in the transmission, four-wheel vented disc brakes (no rear drums), side and side-curtain airbags, vehicle dynamic control and active brake limited-slip technology, a tire-pressure monitoring system, satellite radio, USB connection and multiple 12-volt power ports, Bluetooth, built-in storage bins beneath the back seat and a light above the cargo bed.

I did not want a factory GPS system. Why spend all that money when you can buy a good portable unit for $130 that you can move from vehicle to vehicle?

I didn't think I'd like satellite radio, but I do. The added 12-volt outlets are much appreciated, and being able to talk hands-free is both convenient and a safety feature.

The rear seat bottoms flip up to provide easy access the storage bins, which I find handy, especially for stowing things such as those Utili-track tie-down cleats, which are amazingly stout. I didn't think I'd like the bed's Utili-track system, but that was before I actually used it. Once I did, I bought two more cleats for extra tie-down options. And if I might make a suggestion to Nissan: I wish there were tracks across the inside of the tailgate and not only in the floor and along three sides of the bed.

I use the Utili-track system a lot, as well as the sliding bed extender. My old truck had a fixed-position bed extender, but with the new Utili-track system you can use the extender to secure cargo anywhere inside the bed, not just over the tailgate.

Within a couple of weeks of buying the truck, I filled the bed and drove from Arizona to Florida, and from there to Michigan, where I unloaded my stuff and filled the truck with furniture to deliver to another daughter, who lives in New Jersey.

Over the course of this past summer, I've made three trips to New Jersey and also pulled a trailer from Michigan to Florida.

The new truck's extra power and revised gearing make climbing mountains and pulling a trailer much easier than in my old Frontier. They also make the new truck much more fuel efficient. I averaged around 19 mpg in my 2000 Frontier during my cross-country trips. In the 2013 version, I've averaged nearly 23 mpg overall, including a 16 mpg figure while pulling a loaded U-Haul. For comparison's sake, the EPA rates the 2013 Frontier at 17/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined for the two-wheel-drive automatic.

My new Frontier not only is better but it's bigger inside and about a foot longer — long enough that it just barely fits inside my garage. But it does fit — with a couple of inches to spare. And I like the fact that the extra length makes for a much roomier cabin.

What would I change about my truck? Other than wanting a Utili-track rail across the inside of the tailgate, about the only other change I'd make would be to turn my truck from a Frontier SV crew cab into a Frontier Pro-4X crew cab.

Yes, I saved money by opting for two-wheel drive, but that Pro-4X not only brings a four-wheel drivetrain, but an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, Rugged Trail tires and skid plates to protect the fuel tank, oil pan and transfer case.

I like my truck, but now that I'm home, I find I miss being able to explore Arizona's Sonoran Desert and those rocky mountain trails like I could in my old four-wheel-drive Frontier.

LE Frontier 2 II

LE Frontier 3 II



Nice truck,I've always liked the Frontiers, though being 6'8" I went with a Titan for the added room.

A good choice. Since you had good service out of your other Frontier your new Frontier should serve you well.

These are some tough trucks. No kidding. Our body shop has done work on these before and I can testify the sturdiness and build quality of the body. Very thick gauge and durable steel used in comparison to their competitors. Their new vans are rock solid. Nissan is going to give Dodge, Ford and Chevrolet a tough time in years to come you can bet on it.

Mark , how much did you pay for your new truck mate ? How much was your old truck when you brought it new ?
Love to compare prices , cheers

If they had made them with the manual trans v-6 and longbed (longbeds get only the auto) I might have considered it more, but it was too small, inside and out.

Just as well, since I don't buy trucks based on what fits in the garage, and I don't go offroading for the hell of it, where a smaller truck is a slight benifit cause of where it can go, a full size from 3 out of 4 brands offering v-6s gets better mileage and hauls more.

Looks like it's Larry's truck. Mark is probably just a car guy masquerading as a truck blogger.

Actually most garages won't fit a half-ton pickup.

The typical length for a small one car garage is 20' long and leaves 8.4" in length to park a full-size F-150 crewcab short bed or 11.3" for a Ram crewcab short bed.

yea must garages will fit a full size truck if you have nothing esle in it, but even trying to park another car next to one in a full size garage is very tight. My dad built his house with a 26' deep garage and like 25'Wide, thats what I will be doing when i build my house.

you guys should see the size of a garage in England , they are just big enough to fit a smart car in and that's just .
Thank god I live in the states and have a 34x34 ft garage , big enough for my 3500 crew cab . It's not to big just big enough .

@dufaq: that's my point, alot of midsizers can fit in a garage, but not most half tons. So you see people buying them to fit in a garage, and nothing else...

No thanks, I buy the truck I need! It would be nice to not have to clear snow off, or have hail protection, but oh well!

@ TRX-4 Tom: I think, but I'm not sure, that Nissan offered the Frontier as a crew cab, longbed 4x4 with manual until 2010. Really, really hard to find.


Maybe next time they have a shootout they could have a test driver's comment section answering the question, "If it were your money which one of the test trucks would you buy, and why?

I like Lou BC's comment.







Why would anyone who live in that area of the Country, go from a 4x4 to a two wheel drive truck? I would forgo all the other "stuff" and get the 4x4 before any of the other stuff like sonar parking assist? if you can not use your mirrors, you should not be driving as far as I am concerned, same for the camera, value added package my a$$ give me the value of being able to go places not available with 2wd! if needed to save money I would get the manual trans, and rollup windows in order to get 4x4, and I have done that just about every time I have bought any truck, the only one I have bought loaded lately in the Z-71 ext cab, and that is because that is my wife's daily driver!

"5' 8" I can't reach a full-size.....short garage?......I like my truck...but now that I'm home, I find I miss being able to explore Arizona's Sonoran Desert and those rocky mountain trails like I could in my old four-wheel-drive Frontier."



Larry Edsall making excuses because he lost his man card

He wanted another Nissan all along but had to feign interest in a V6 Ram

But he has buyer's remorse already

Because he cheaped out on a cheapskate 4x2 bottom feeder edtion

NIssan Frontier

Not that there is anything wrong with that

Will Larry be hauling more furniture? Will Larry's neighbor borrow his truck to go to Lowe's again?

For more boring Larry Edsall updates and his life story, GO TO PUTC!

I have always liked the idea of the Frontier and I almost bought one on a couple of occasions in recent years, but searching the Web revealed that they are littered with problems. Paint scratches very easily, trans fluid gets contaminated with coolant due to faulty parts, seats rattle and feel loose, engine exhaust manifolds are junk, rear axles have numerous failures that Nissan won't cover, etc. etc. They just are not even remotely close to being as rugged or dependable as they used to be.

They are certainly good looking trucks but they are expensive for what you get and the quality is low on them. I'll save my $28K for a Ram 1500 and have something to actually show for it.

WXman: I have to agree with ya on this, as we know you can go and get an Express quad cab for 4x4 Hemi, for the same as what he paid for the Nissan, sure you will have to give up on PW.DL, but will get a 6' bed, and 4x4, not to mention a Hemi and the same gas mileage, sure maybe not the same when using all 390 horses, but drive like, you know at the speed limit, and sanely, I bet the same, too bad, it will not fir in his child size garage though.....he did not say what he did pay for the Nissan, but where I live, the Ram Express quad cabs are on sale for 28.5K, and I have seen what the nissans cost around here also, and they are not cheap! with cameras and "parking assist" you can not get with the "bottom feeders" and have to spend at least 27K, for 4x2's!! and the 4x4''s? at least every one I have seen with PW/DL and auto V-6 and "value added" package? are over 30K!!! and the Tacoma's? even MORE!!!

@sandman & WXman & Tom & Snapdaddy Ram
Fully agreed. While there is still the market for midsize trucks, it seems like the full sizes are quickly gaining converts from the mid-sized market. All things being equal, it simply doesn't make much sense anymore price wise to go with a midsize. You can get a full sized truck for a couple thousand more(discounts included) and when given the choice between the 2, who wouldn't want a roomier truck with more bed space? Additionally, I think that one of the important considerations is that big $$$ are being spent at R&D for full sized trucks, so no matter what brand you choose, you are getting a better designed truck than a mid sized truck.

The Frontiers may not be cheap but they do attract bottom feeders.

First, the bottom feeders and other cheapskates look at the full price on the full-sizes, NOT comparably equipped, and without discounts.

Then they look at the Nissans and see it's $15k less so they go for the "cheapskate" Frontier.k

The 5' 8" comment is a red herring. He just wanted the Nissan. There's nothing wrong with that. If he wanted another Frontier, just say so without making a couple lame excuses.

Should have bought a 4x4. Sounds like buyer's remorse.

You mention bottom feeders. Reminds me of the typical Chevy/GMC buyer. They are watching football on a Sunday afternoon, had a bit too much to drink, then they see a Chevy ad on TV and in a drunken stupor decide they should go and buy a Silverado. Several days later the purchase has actually materialized, and they are now making payments on a truck they can't really afford. 6 months later, they realize what utter garbage they purchased and regret their GM purchase. The truck spends more time in the shop then out. Not too long afterwards they are realizing they have to decide between Silverado or mortgage payments. This eventually leads to bankruptcy and after the bankruptcy is complete, the processes completes all over again. By this time, mind you, it's several years down the road, and there is a "new" Silverado to fool the bottom feeder once again. The older repoed Silverado is not sitting on the used car lot the a selling price of under 10K. Talk about bottom feeders!

Good choice, but you can still go offroading (only in a more limited way) you can install a locker, all terrain tires and go offroad with buddies that have 4wd, in case you get stuck, but if you know you like to go off-road you should have bought the Pro-4X. At least the 2wd is a little better on gas.

It boils down to personal choice and not everyone wants a full sized truck or wants/needs 4x4.

I've gotten in the habit of not relying on 4x4 all of the time. It makes me a more cautious and safer driver.

We have a guest who writes a story about his truck and he gets bashed..... well Mr.Edsall, welcome to

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.
Posted by: Lou | Oct 20, 2011 3:19:42 PM

@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.
Posted by: Lou | Oct 20, 2011 10:53:03 PM


Larry, maybe you can further explain how your son-in-law "sold my 175,000-mile, 2000 Nissan Frontier out from under me". Doesn't matter what "my daughter's neighbors" were looking for - either it was his to sell, or it wasn't and he broke the law. I don't care what relationship they are to me... if someone sells *my* property without my permission, they can explain it to a prosecutor and a judge.

Conversely, if you were a willing party when your son-in-law said something to the effect of "Dad, our neighbors are looking for a truck like yours and that would fit their needs perfectly", then he didn't "sell" it from under you - YOU sold it, and blaming him on a public website is pretty rude.

Depending on where you live and how old the house is that you're living in (whether you rent or own), the amount of space for parking can be very limited in a number of ways.

For instance: My parents live in a house they purchased brand-new back in 1965 or so. It has a two-car garage with separate doors and the bays are easily deep enough for 20-foot cars as well as the usual homey garage clutter. BUT... the garage door openings are only just over 6' high which means that some of the taller 4x4 models simply cannot get into the garage without damage (and I'm talking showroom trucks, not custom-lifted models. Even my JK Wrangler's soft top drags the chain of the ceiling mounted light fixture when I go down for a visit.) The garage was designed for the long-and-low cars being built at the time.

Newer houses--much like mall parking lots now--are designed for today's smaller cars. The typical garage is barely over 15 feet because today's typical car is barely over 15 feet. Even my Wrangler can fit in there. However, I live in a townhouse in the semi-suburban northeast corridor region, equidistant from two major cities on that corridor, where off-street parking means parking spaces between the street and the front of the building. Being relatively new construction, these spaces are EXACTLY 18' deep and the vast majority of vehicles parked have two- to three feet of leeway without overhanging street or sidewalk. On the other hand, my 1990 F-150 exactly fits that space, the front bumper plumbed right at the edge of the sidewalk while the rear plumbs right at the edge of the gutter. I have to use a barrier similar to the guides used in repair shops to avoid going too far forward and blocking the sidewalk. Other trucks overhang both street and sidewalk--most specifically crew-cab models with 6' beds.

Yes, the argument of "can't fit in the garage" is quite valid--even when you don't have a garage. This is the problem with assuming everybody is like everybody else. Just because you MIGHT have more room than you need (i.e. a carport beside the garage) doesn't mean everybody does. For some, physical size of a vehicle is a critical limiter--even if they WANTED a full-sized truck.




Nothing wrong with a midsize truck anyway, I think full size trucks have gotten grossly overly large at least for what I need.

@ Decadent: I could say exactly the same thing about Ford, or Ram, or Toyota (don't see many Nissan truck adverts even in sporting events). About all I use TV commercials for is to get another look at the body style and size for comparison and more often than not completely ignore the message.

Fine, so you don't like Chevy. That doesn't mean all Chevys are bad. I don't like Ford; that doesn't mean all Fords are bad (I've just never seen a good Ford). I've never owned a RAM per sé, but I've now owned two different Chrysler vehicles, one of them considered a truck (my Wrangler) and they've been pretty reliable--as has nearly every GM vehicle I've owned. What I don't do is go around saying this brand is crap or that brand is the greatest.

Honestly, while I once would have, those brands I swore by no longer exist. As a repeat customer, I've been left out in the cold by those brands and really don't expect to develop much loyalty to any one brand again after all these years. Seeing commentary like YOURS makes me want to check out the Silverado (as if I wanted something that big) just to find out what the DEVIL you're complaining about!

Wowee hell must have had a cold spell, look at this, Vulpine HEMI MONSTER, WXman, Tom and Snapdaddy Ram Me and others here on PUTC have finally agreed on something!!!! Merry Christmas!!!!

That frontier should be the new fullsize.
It's 2013. Gas prices have not come down and yet they add horsepower and make the trucks bigger yet you still need to rent a trailer to haul a friggin bean bag chair to your daughter.

Don't like it? Would rather have your compact truck and 4wd at an affordable price? Tough. "You'll drive what we give you".
Ah life with the auto-petro cartels.


What planet are you on? Gas prices are a full dollar less today than they were five or six years ago.

You keep going on about cartels...get a clue.

Pap Jim,

A dollar less then they were 5 or 6 years ago? Not even close. When Obama took office about that time they were at $2.20 per gallon.

I went from a 4x4 to 2 wheel drive truck too when I moved to Florida and stayed for a couple of years. No point in having 4x4 if you're not driving through snow and ice. You save money on both maintenance and gas. Just load up the bed with a few sandbags for extra weight in case you are ever in a situation where the back tires need some traction to get you out. I spent 3 yrs there and never needed it. Moved to the Carolinas and have been here 5 yrs, got a new truck in 2011. I drive to the coast and to the mountains and still don't need the 4 wheel drive.

I live in OH and never had a problem with 2wd, I put some sand bags in the back in winter but that it.

@HEMI RAMPAGE: Soo...where is RAM (Fiat) in the midsize truck segment?

@Joe Stick to what you know.

Energy prices dipped sharply in late 2008 because of the Bush decision to open up offshore leases and the sharp downturn in the stock markets that year, but the good news regarding gas prices was very short lived.

Retail pump prices were north of 4 bucks/gallon in the summer of 2008. It is now 2013. It's a dollar less here. Five years.

Papa Jim, Its also $1.00 higher then it was two years ago.

@ Joe you are simply wrong. Look it up:

do not doubt me.

The Frontier rocks if you live in the city and have a lifestyle that requires a pickup !!! Camping, snowboarding and towing a trailer are a breeze with this capable truck. Ford dropped the ball vacating this market …

Hope you enjoy your new truck !

Now,if I put down Nissan like other makes,you should know its not personal...I joke around with my non-Mopar buddies all the time,and its all in good fun..I know some people on this site take it personally and really think anything other than their truck is unreliable and junk,but we all know they are clueless.

Nissan would be the only French-Asian brand I would buy,I cant stand Honda or Toyota those are totally overrated ! Just look at my older posts I dont think I ever put down Nissan like other Asian brands..Though,I did own and will own in the future and currently own several models of each brand as I buy/sell newer model cars/trucks/vans/suvs all the time,and restore older ones for extreme fun/profit !

Remember,do a burn-out its good for the environment !! Plus,your truck is under warranty !!

Those Frontiers are pretty tough little trucks.

@nate - wow, one more lame assed cut and paste used completely out of context of the thread in question.

Do you read anywhere on this thread about me commenting about garage size?

If garage size is the primary metric to base one's truck purchase, then yes, it is a lame metric.

I am not sh!tting all over this guy because of it. Grow up.

Buy a REAL truck!!!!!!!!!

@Lou BC--You might be more inclined to buy a vehicle that will fit in a garage if you live in a urban area where the parking is tight, little to no off street parking, and the driveways are short and narrow. Much of the new construction is being built on small lots with little room for a garage and driveway. If you live in the country or in an area where the garages are bigger and the drive ways longer then yes I would agree with you It is easy to assume that everyone can live just like you until you see more crowded conditions.

@Vulpine--Agree when someone tells me that a certain brand is all junk then I just don't listen to them. Maybe I might like a certain brand better than another but that doesn't mean that the product I don't like as well is junk.

@american--Please define a real truck. To some a full size half ton crew cab pickup with heated leather seats is a toy and not a real truck. The definition of a truck is in the eye of the beholder as beauty is.

The group think rationale is why get a midized when you can have a fullsized for not much more in cost and mpg? Well, sometimes a midsized PU is the right choice and I wager to bet that a large portion of current fullsized truck owners can have their needs met in a midsized PU. All that extra width, length and more importantly, extra weight on a fullsize is really a waste unless you're using the truck at or near capacity at least a few times a year. Most people don't so that's why a midsized would be better. If the truck makers placed as much effort into designing a new midsize offering with competitive engines like they do with the fullsized trucks, I bet they would have more people interested in getting a midsize truck. However, the profit margins are usually much smaller on the midsize trucks so they want to protect their market share by neglecting or even downright discontinuing them like Dodge did with the Dakota. That in my opinion is the antithesis of what guts, glory and stomping out all the competition is.

I applaud GM for giving the global Colorado all new body panels and beefing it up for U.S. production. Once Nissan and Toyota redesign their ancient midsized offerings, that might encourage Fiat/Dodge to get off their rearend and make one themselves. A new midsized PU from Dodge designed to look like a baby Ram with a Fiat sourced small displacement V6 diesel would be a winner in my book.

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