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New truck shares its platform with the Titan
Why stop when youve got a good thing going? Nissans full-size Titan pickup is a good product that has spawned a family of vehicles, the latest of which includes the midsize Frontier pickup, Pathfinder SUV and the Xterra.
The Frontier, Pathfinder and Xterra are smaller than the Titan, but they are derived from Nissans F-Alpha truck platform. The fully boxed, all-steel ladder frame was created with wide applications and different sizes in mind. It can accept a V-8 or a V-6 and either a solid rear axle, for the trucks, or an independent rear suspension for the SUVs. Frame-rail thicknesses, as well as overall dimensions, vary according to the vehicle.
The Frontier is available in King Cab and Crew Cab body styles. The King Cab has a 6-foot bed and the Crew Cab has a 5-foot bed. Prices start at $15,500 for a two-wheel-drive, four-cylinder King Cab and $20,550 for the Crew Cab. The LE Crew Cab with 4-wheel drive has a base price of $26,550. With leather interior, upgraded stereo, side airbags, power windows, power locks, sunroof and traction control, the sticker price on a well equipped LE is just shy of $30,000.
The Frontier Crew Cab is 5.6 inches longer than last years truck. It is powered by a 4.0-liter V-6 that produces 265 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. That, said Nissan, is the most of any V-6 pickup truck.
The 4.0-liter is tuned for good midrange torque and power, which is what a truck needs. Fuel economy with the 4-wheel drive option is rated at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 on the highway. My experience was similar.
The engine is derived from the 3.5-liter unit used in the Maxima, Altima, Murano and 350Z. It uses variable valve timing, Teflon-coated pistons, aluminum block and a timing chain, rather than a timing belt, for durability.
Transmission choices include a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.
A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder is available on the two-wheel-drive King Cab.
The two-wheel-drive Frontier King Cab has a maximum tow rating of 6,500 pounds, while a four-wheel-drive LE can tow 6,100 pounds. Maximum payload is 1,482 pounds.
Four-wheel-drive models can be equipped with an all-wheel traction control system, as well as hill descent control and hill start assist. Hill descent control slows the vehicle on steep off-road drops, while hill start assist allows the driver to stop on an incline, release the brake pedal and not roll backward while moving his foot from the brake to the throttle.
On a recent road trip, the ride was extremely comfortable on the highway, and thats not always the case with an empty truck. The roof-mounted luggage rack looks cool and might be handy, but I would delete it because it contributes to wind noise.
Like the full-size Titan, the Frontier has a spray-in bed liner and the Utili-track bed channel tie-down system.
The Frontiers cabin is plain but not Spartan. The LE had heated leather seats, and they were quite comfortable. Fingertip controls on the steering wheel were great for adjusting the radio or cruise control. The center console has handy storage trays for sunglasses and cell phones. The Crew Cab has full-size back doors and a back seat that is nearly as large as that of an SUV. Legroom is decent but the seat back was fairly upright.
The Frontier is assembled at Nissan's manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tenn.