Another month gone and another month with nearly 2000 more miles added to our midsize hauler. With so many miles under our lightweights' belt, staffers have noted the manual transmission is starting to whine more. Motor Trend associate editor Scott Evans took our Nissan Frontier home for the weekend: "There are really only two things I'd change about this truck. First, they've got to tone-down the gear noise. I realize it's a truck, but I've heard race cars with straight-cut gears that didn't make as much racket as the transmission in this truck."

"Second, they've got to update the styling of the dash, console, and door panels. It looks straight out of 2003 and is desperately in need of a refresh." Evans continues, "They can use the same materials, all the same mounting points and dimensions, keep the seats and the rest. Just make it look new like they do to the grille every few years. Everything else can stay."

"This truck feels right-size to me. Full-size trucks have gotten so tall and so large they're impractical if you live any place denser than a suburb. This one feels nimble enough to get around a city and still rugged enough to tackle a trail. The tall seating position, manual transmission and 4x4 stickers on the bed make me want to prerun it on the nearest dirt road. It certainly feels robust enough to take the abuse. It's got good power, good clearance and it's not too big or too heavy for moderate obstacles."

After a Vegas road trip and daily commutes, our Frontier is nearing its 15000-mile checkup. We'll have more on that update next month when we take it into our local dealer for its second routine maintenance service.


2012 Nissan Frontier 4X4 PRO4X
Service life:6 mo/13,732 mi
Avg CO2: 1.11 lb/mi
Energy cons: 194 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: 17.4 mpg