We turned over 15,000 miles on the odometer of our Nissan Frontier while out camping in Mojave Desert on a photo shoot with Snowmobile and its sweet modified Ford E-series. Motor Trend assistant art director William Walker and photographer Jessica Walker spent the better half of the trip roaming around the high desert and testing out the new Nissan truckbed popup tent for the first time.

"The tent system for the Frontier is a clever, well-made option for fair-weather campers. We, unfortunately, were nowhere close to a warm climate," explaines Walker. "Sleeping in a truck bed is like is like driving on a bridge in cold temperatures. You freeze! Because the cold air moves above and below the surface, you end up having none of the benefits of the insulation of the ground, and it ends up feeling way colder. Even in 0-degree sleeping bags, we spent a very uncomfortable night in the desert. The setup is also complicated and unlike any tent I have ever used, including odd structural pieces inside the tent.

Though the night temperatures were less than ideal, Walker did like the flexibility of the bed tent. "One very smart thing is the ability to quickly remove the tent from the truck, without dismantling, so you can still use your truck during the day. Maybe we'll try it again, sometime in the spring!"

After that camping trip, I took the frontier to our local dealer for its 15,000-mile service, which included an oil and filter change, new cabin air filter, tire rotation, battery service, oil and fuel treatment, fluid top-off, tire pressure check, and multipoint inspection for a grand total of $461.65. Having heard a few coworkers complain about the progressively louder noise coming from the transmission, I had the dealer check that out as well. To my surprise, the service techs reported that the whining noise from the transmission was the result of a bad bearing. They replaced the entire transmission under warranty.

The Frontier has been much quieter and back to its champlike self again as we broke in the new transmission during the next few hundred miles. As the month came to an end, another 1000 miles rolled by on this daily driver.


2012 Nissan Frontier
Service life: 7 mo/16,141 mi
Avg CO2: 1.15 lb/mi
Energy cons: 199 kW-hr/100mi
Unresolved problems: None
Maintenance cost: $538.15 (2-oil change, rotate tires, inspection; 1-cabin-air filter; 1-engine-air filter)
Normal-wear cost: $0
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ: 15/20/17 mpg
Average Fuel Econ: 16.9 mpg