Staffers at the Motor Trend headquarters were eager to get their hands on our 2012 Nissan Frontier. MT assistant art director William Walker used the Frontier to pick up a new project car and MT's managing editor Rusty Kurtz used it for a weekend of home improvements. - Melissa Spiering

According to William Walker:

I recently had the opportunity to use our new long-term 2012 Nissan Frontier as a tow-vehicle. I purchased a 1972 BMW Bavaria in Bakersfield, California, and opted to tow it back to my house in Los Angeles. On flat ground, the 125-mile trek would be simple, but lying in my path was the grapevine, a twisting, hilly stretch of I-5 that crosses Tejon Pass. The Frontier is rated to tow 5500 pounds. That said, I was nervous the truck might falter under a heavy load, climbing the pass in triple-digit heat.

To my delight, the Frontier accomplished all the goals I set for it with little drama. Although towing with a larger vehicle would have been nicer, the Frontier was up to the task. You could see a decent reverse rake, once the trailer was hooked up, and even more so once the car was loaded, but the Frontier didn't miss a beat. Not trying to push my luck, I stayed at a constant 55 mph in the slow lane. Other than getting stuck in brush-fire-related traffic, I made it up and over the pass with ease.

I really like the Frontier as a whole. I am glad Nissan still offers a small pickup in these oversized everything days. Whether it's good or bad, the new Frontier reminds me of the 1999 Frontier my wife had when we first met. It is simple, fun to drive, perfectly sized for the weekend dirt biker or homeowner fix-it man, and it still fits in a normal parking spot.

Motor Trend's managing editor Rusty Kurtz used the truck to do some maintenance on his home up in the high desert. Kurtz kept comparing our new Nissan Frontier king cab to our long-term 2010 Suzuki Equator crew cab counterpart. With trips to the hardware store and the dump, he didn't have any real complaints other than he would prefer the automatic to our truck's manual transmission. "This is about the easiest manual transmission to drive, which is nice when you're stuck in our crazy L.A. traffic."

Kurtz also loved the truck's size. "With only street parking at my apartment, I never had any problems finding a spot into which the Frontier would fit. Its compact dimensions are just right for getting into those tight spaces."


2012 Nissan Frontier 4X4 PRO4X
Service life: 4 mo/9778 mi
Avg CO2: 1.10 lb/mi
Energy cons: 191 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: 17.6 mpg