I haven't had much seat time in our long-term Frontier during July, but it did have a very busy month with other staffers behind the wheel.
The Frontier got down and dirty with WOT's associate online editor Erick Ayapana off-roading at the El Mirage Dry Lake recreation area about 2 hours outside of L.A., along with associate online editor Christian Seabaugh behind the wheel of a Ford Raptor. "The two of us had seat time in both trucks, and we walked away surprised and impressed with the Frontier," said Ayapana. "The Nissan was simply more fun on the trails we tackled that day. It was easier to navigate through narrower spots, and its lighter curb weight and shorter wheelbase made it an absolute blast to cruise and get sideways on wide-open sandy areas. The Raptor might be more capable overall, but the Frontier -- equipped with the PRO-4X package (Bilstein shocks, electronic locking rear differential, skidplates, and BFGoodrich Trail tires) -- had no issues keeping up. Also, our Frontier has a manual transmission, an option not available on the Raptor."
Seabaugh said he would strongly consider the truck if he had $30,000 to spend for an off-roader. "Let's just face it: Manual is better. Why? Because it just is. The Raptor's automatic may have been great, but there's just something to be said for shifting yourself and getting it right. That's part of what makes driving the Frontier so rewarding; get the gear change right, and you'll make it up that hill. Don't and, well, you'll be testing out the Frontier's clutch start cancel switch real quick. Off-roading with a manual transmission may not be the easiest thing, but is the easy thing always the best thing?"
Things didn't go so great for Ayapana when he jumped behind the wheel one morning and the truck wouldn't start for him. As with any manual vehicle, he put the clutch in and turned the key - nothing happened. After a few moments of no response from the truck, he managed to get it started by using the clutch cancel start button on the dash -- not recommended to use unless off-roading. Once the engine was started, he had no problem with engaging the clutch. From there, he headed straight to the dealer to have it looked at. Turns out our truck's clutch switch under the clutch petal was bad. A little rubber nipple that connects the contact points on the switch to the pedal was gone. They even replaced a missing screw from one of our mudflaps that became loose all under warranty.
For those who don't know what a clutch cancel start button is, it's found on Frontiers outfitted with a manual transmission. It helps you keep from sliding down a hill when your truck stalls on a step grade while off-roading. While in 4LO/4HI you can start your engine in the gear you're in without having to use the actual clutch pedal.
Since the Frontier was near its 7500-mile inspection in just under three months of ownership, we also decided to get that done while we had the truck at the dealer. The 7500-mile inspection included oil and filter change, rotated and adjusted tire pressures, and topped off fluids. The steering gear linkage, suspension, exhaust, battery, lights, horn, wipers, air filter, belts and hoses were also inspected - everything was still in tip-top-shape. The cost for the 7500-mile dealer inspection was $169.
|2012 Nissan Frontier 4X4 PRO4X |
|Service life:|| 3 mo/7666 mi|
|Avg CO2:|| 1.10 lb/mi|
|Energy cons:|| 190 kW-hr/100mi|
|Unresolved problems:|| None|
|Maintenance cost:|| $173.63 (oil change, rotate tires, inspection)|
|Normal-wear cost:|| $0|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ:|| 15/20/17 mpg|
|Average Fuel Econ:|| 17.7 mpg|