Think of today’s midsize pickup, whether the Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma or GM’s Colorado/Canyon, as a male carrier. The target demographic for these 4X2s and 4X4s is a guy in his 20’s or 30’s. And based solely on a week behind the wheel of Nissan’s 2012 Frontier 4X4SV (‘Supersize Value’), Nissan’s product team could be #1 with a bullet if judged by the interest shown the 2012 Nissan Frontier by those very same 20-something guys.
The menu, of course, is ridiculously simple – and well established. For the 2012 Nissan Frontier it’s a fully boxed frame, torque-laden 4.0 liter V6, extended or crew cab passenger compartments and short or long beds. You can still buy a bare-bones extended cab with an inline four at less than $20,000, or go whole hog for well over $30,000. Our Frontier Crew Cab SV, while not as off-road capable as Nissan’s dirt-oriented PRO-4X, serves the needs of most target consumers, whether driven on pavement or taken off-road. And with some simple, albeit expressive, visual adds available via the ‘Sport Appearance’ option, you can either be the 20-something most young men want to be – or feel like one just by writing the check.
Our test Frontier, a crew cab with short bed finished in a metallic blue, still enjoys a contemporary look despite its mid-decade (i.e., the middle of the last decade) intro. And the graphics package, spelling out Frontier from the bottom of the front door to the back of the bed, is assertive as only a truck intended for 20-somethings can be. We liked the look, helped in no small part by the Frontier’s stance, sitting on 18-inch alloy wheels in a Sport-specific ‘Dark Hyper Silver Finish’. The tires – 265/60R18 BF Goodrich Long Trails – offered enough tread for off-roading, but not so much as to make them overly intrusive on asphalt. The tire choice seemed to reflect the overall intent of this particular package, as the Frontier is composed on the daily commute but remains credible when the off-road venue grows gnarly.
If your driving routes are always gnarly, check the PRO-4X option box at your Nissan dealer. Available only on 4X4 models, the package provides you with most of the goodies for getting off the beaten path – and then beating it. Bilstein off-road shocks, skid plates protecting both the oil pan and transfer care and an electronic rear differential locker with 4-wheel limited slip deliver your power to the wheels. Once there, BF Goodrich Rugged Trail tires get that power to the ground. In an off-road venue outside of Bandera, Texas a PRO-4X capably handled virtually anything in its path, even when there was no discernible path.
Inside, Nissan’s penchant for hard plastic surfaces remains. The interior layout is functional, and Nissan products are well past the point where we’re struck by an almost obnoxious level of budget cutting, but you won’t confuse a Frontier interior with that of Infiniti’s QX56. Again, opting for the Sport Appearance Package nets you an upgrade, with specific seat trim emblazoned with the Frontier logo (in the event you missed the billboard on the outside of the truck), white-faced gauges, and an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 capability.