Good For: Capturing the appeal of a smaller truck. Go full-size or go home seems to be the slogan these days, especially from the Big 3, which are collectively offering zero smaller pickup options this year. Leave it to Nissan to execute on another opportunity in the truck market. The Frontier crew cab I drove brings a 5-seater 4x4 with a pickup bed down to a very affordable $25k price. The 2-speed transfer case, properly implemented handbrake, and available 6-speed manual recognize the better configurations of trucks that American brands seem have to forgotten. Nissan even softens the blow of settling for a V6 by dropping in a gnarly sounding VQ40DE motor, sharing characteristics of the 350Z motor from which it is stroked.
Compromises: The Frontier is as big as a full-size in many ways. The longer wheelbase made it even harder to maneuver in parking garages than big cars like the Tahoe and Fleetwood. The tall stance combined with a narrower body gives it the proportional look of an off-road truck.
Overall reaction - Thumb up: The Big 3 is missing out this year, though GM is supposedly coming back into the segment in 2014 after a one year hiatus. Hopefully their slow pace means they are taking the time to do it right and beat Japan this time.