Holiday season was in full swing, and so was our Frontier. We just had a massive retaining wall built in our backyard. Though we were happy to have the contractors gone and the yard to ourselves again, we were left with fence repairs that couldn't wait.

During our holiday break, the Frontier proved to be the worthy workhorse we needed for several trips to the hardware store to get fence posts, fence boards, and kwik mix. The fence boards fit perfectly in the 6-foot bed, even with the tailgate up -- we even threw in a Christmas tree. The truck is perfect size for the average Joe for the average home projects.

We also got to test out the king cab's flip-down seats on my six-year-old nephew, Harley, who just graduated from a car seat to the booster seat a couple months prior. The booster seat fit perfectly on the cab seats, and Harley had more than enough room for his long legs. He got a kick of the reverse-opening king cab doors, proclaiming they were made just for him. The king cab also held his luggage and all the toys he got from Santa, keeping his stuff dry while traveling the highways in a mild California rainstorm.

At the end of Harley's week-long stint, his grandmother and I drove him back home to Kingman, Arizona, which would be a round trip of 600 miles in one day. Space was slightly more cramped as Harley's carry-on baggage had increased with the souvenirs he had collected while staying with us. The last time we made this trip, he was in the back seat of Motor Trend's long-term Fiat 500. The king cab gave him way more legroom than the tiny hatchback did.

The three of us left our house before dawn. Harley didn't care about the loss of cab room since he slept for most of the way home propped up by his angry birds pillow. Our drive out was uneventful for the most part. We missed the rain, and there was hardly anyone on the road. We stopped once for gas and one more time for a bite to eat before reaching Kingman.

We said our goodbyes, topped off the gas tank, and headed back the way we came. We made it home just past sunset and on one tank of gas.

The following Monday was New Year's Eve and the last open day we had left to haul our dead Christmas tree and old fencing to the dump. We made two trips with two completely full beds of rubbish that included scrap left behind from the previous owner of our house. Unfortunately, while loading the truck for the second run, my overly competent friend hurled a log atop the pile, and I watched what seemed a slow-mo replay as the log rolled toward the rear window. So 2012 went out with a glass-shattering bang for us.

Once back in the office, I spent the better half of a day trying to get a hold of the service department at our local Nissan dealer to get a quote for the window replacement. Several messages where left and by end of day we never got a reply. So we called up Safelite Auto Glass and two days later they sent some one out to us to replace the entire rear window. The job was done with in an hour and our truck was like new once again.

Window Repair Price: 550.17 (includes 7.95 disposal fee and 3.99 fuel surcharge)


2012 Nissan Frontier
Service life: 8 mo/18,125 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