Wouldn't you just know it? Design a bad-boy truck with studded fender flares, aggressive tube grille, and tons of 'tude, and what does it attract? Girls. Maybe that's the point.
It's as if the small pickup offers a different experience from the family sedans or minivans young people had to ride in during their formative years. Driver and passengers sit up higher than in mere cars. There's room for stuff, and a truck just feels tougher: a hunky alternative to a wimpy econobox.
Another reason small pickups sell to younger buyers is price. Where well-equipped full-size rigs can run $30K, compact trucks base in the low teens. But be careful with the extras. Even though the Frontier King Cab starts out with a four-cylinder engine and XE trim at a parsimonious $14,039, the 2WD S/C V-6 version we tested ran $21,428. For the $7000-plus bump in price, the buyer gets a blown 210-horse V-6 (that guzzles premium) and spiffs like 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, seven-speaker six-disc AM/FM/CD stereo, keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shifter, cruise, tilt, and power windows/ mirrors/door locks. Add in another $3650 for 4WD. Aside from the supercharged engine, many of these convenience items are standard on cars costing thousands less, such as the $16K Scion xB.
But small trucks have their devotees. "I like the imports, the Japanese especially. The Frontier looks sporty." Another fan enthused, "I'd take a truck or musclecar over an economy car, despite lower gas mileage." Summing up, a young woman added, "Trucks are just fun to drive."
|2003 Nissan Frontier 4x2 S/C V-6|
|Price, base/as tested||$20,819 / $21,428|
|Vehicle layout||Front engine, rwd, 5-pass pickup|
|Engine||S'charged V-6, SOHC, 2 valves/cyl|
|Displacement, ci/cc||200.0 / 3275|
|Max horsepower @ rpm||210 @ 4800|
|Max torque @ rpm||246 @ 2800|
|EPA mpg, city/hwy||15/19|