The following is an overview of my several month journey in deciding between three manufactures of 2012 midsize crew-cab trucks. Is it still possible to get a good little truck, or has the slow death of the true midsize pickup taken its toll? For me, it came down to one priority, off road capability. Along the way I accepted the fact that the days of the midsize truck in America are numbered. Two of the big three have killed the ailing Ford Ranger and the Dodge Dakota. This basically leaves the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier soldiering on for 2013. As for Ram/Fiat – we will have to wait and see.
Let’s start with the Toyota Tacoma, as many would agree the best midsize truck built for the U.S. market. Tacoma has a long history of keeping its value and reliability top notch. The TRD off-road package includes: specially tuned springs with Bilstein shocks, 16-in. alloy wheels with P265/70R16 BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires, locking rear diff, engine and fuel tank skid plate front tow hook, 115V/400-watt bed power outlet, multifunction overhead console with compass and temperature gauge, sport seats with sport fabric with driver’s lumbar support, JBL upgraded stereo and TRD Off-Road graphics (V6 models). But Toyota offered no price breaks, plus I thought the seat bottoms were just too short.
Now the Frontier’s top of the line Pro-4x is very similar in everything, except in some refinements you get: heated leather seats, sunroof, roof rack, nine speaker Rockford/Fosgate stereo and factory sprayed bed liner. No options for back up camera or 115v power outlet. Both trucks on road handling and driving feedback were nearly the same.
The Chevrolet Colorado had only one option going for it, the 5.3 V8 from the Silverado. But the way it handled, rode, its lack of off road capability, and minimal options ruled it out for me right away.
After months of research and many test drives & annoyed sales people, I found the Nissan Frontier offered the best bang for the buck. In the end not only does the Frontier have 30 more horsepower and torque, but the rebates combined with a low interest rate couldn’t be beat. But dang, why hasn’t Nissan fixed that battleship turning radius, sheesh!
I purchased my 2012 Frontier Pro-4x with twenty miles on the odometer. I have owned several mildly lifted Cherokees over the years and just felt the Frontier, out of the box off road, would be outstanding, I was right! With just 200 plus miles on the clock, my daughter and I headed up Mosquito pass outside of Leadville, Colorado. The weather was rainy, cold, and combined with extremely low clouds, it felt kinda spooky. Even though the rocks were extremely slippery, the rear locker and downhill descent control worked flawlessly. Not to mention the heated seats were excellent! But apparently mother nature was not wanting to let us go all the way over with bad visibility of about 20ft in the low clouds. This trip we will be attempted again next summer. Count on it!
Over all, either the Tacoma or Frontier off road packages literally ‘rock’ almost any trail they tackle. Most would also agree it may come down to brand loyalty and which truck just looks better.
Any one looking for a mid-size crew cab have at least two choices for 2013. From the rumors floating around, both trucks will only be getting bigger for the U.S. Market. But the rest of the planet will still have many, many choices in the midsize truck market. One important option is the turbo diesel with gobs of torque and much better fuel mileage. The number one question I ask and always hear is, why can’t we have those trucks here in U.S.A.?
Please enjoy this TFLcar Off-Road video review of the Nissan Frontier Pro-4X