2012 Nissan Frontier Performance

7.0
Performance

Of all the mid-size and compact trucks on the market, the Frontier's a favorite of ours, not just for its right-sized dimensions, but also for its gutsy V-6 performance.

We haven't forgotten the four-cylinder versions, but unless you drive a Frontier for someone else, it's likely you've skipped it, too. The wheezy 2.5-liter, 152-horsepower four strains to provide the kind of acceleration most drivers want and need, and fuel economy isn't all that much higher than the six-cylinder versions.

Six cylinders are the way to go with the Nissan Frontier.

The Frontier's 4.0-liter V-6 makes for a great substitute for V-8 power in this scaled-down truck. It makes 261 horsepower, and comes with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. The manuals tend to have long shift throws but the clutch is more precise; the five-speed automatic isn't the newest shifter on the block, but it's set up well with the six-cylinder's torque, making the most of its available power for launches and mid-range passing. Towing capacity rates up to 6,500 pounds.

Across the lineup, you'll find that the Frontier steers and handles quite well, with accurate, communicative steering and good body control—without the shudder and hop that affect some truck suspensions especially when lightly loaded. About the only down side for comfort is the Frontier's ride, which can get pretty choppy.

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