Why a Nissan Frontier is the best truck for our video editor

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Update by Chris Tropea to the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner project car
Aug 17, 2023 | Nissan, Frontier, Nissan Frontier

After selling my 2010 VW GTI in January, I had been on the search for a new-to-me car. I was undecided for the longest time on what would best fit my needs. After borrowing my dad’s truck, however, I decided that a mid-size crew cab pickup would do everything I wanted and needed. 

After months of searching and research, it came down to two options: a Nissan Frontier or a Toyota Tacoma. With both having similar specs and reliability, the decision came down to price. With that and a good bit of time on Autotrader and Facebook Marketplace, I finally found the truck that would fit all my needs. 

Meet this 2015 Nissan Frontier Desert Runner in metallic blue. I was able to negotiate the price down to what I thought was reasonable in this crazy used car market we're in and for thousands less than a similar Tacoma. So far, could not be happier. 

I settled on the Desert Runner package because I couldn't see myself needing four-wheel drive while living in Florida and driving on pavement 99% of the time. I couldn’t justify the extra cost for the PRO-4X or other 4x4 setup, even though those are really cool trucks.

Why mid-size versus full-size? I just don't need a full-size truck right now. Sure, a 5-foot bed is small and I’m sure I'll see reasons why a bigger bed is more useful, but for me, going from a two-door hatchback to anything bigger is a huge upgrade. 

While this will not be an extreme build, I plan to make some minor updates and upgrades to make this the perfect camera support truck for filming and photographing for the magazine. I’d also like to modernize the electronics a little bit to make it a more comfortable place to be for long trips. 

First up on the list is to equip it with tie-downs, roadside safety gear and a basic tool set. Then it’s time for a fluid change and a good detail so I can take a really good look over everything.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/17/23 3:46 p.m.

I'm not saying that seeing this project progress is making me want a truck, but it's not not making me want a truck.

ChrisTropea Associate Editor
8/17/23 4:13 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

You know, I never thought I wanted a truck. I actually started shopping for Civic Si's after I sold the GTI. Now that I have one though I don't think I could live without one or something with similar cargo capacity.  

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/17/23 4:28 p.m.

And it could tow a Beetle to autocross events. Just saying. 

ChrisTropea Associate Editor
8/17/23 4:34 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/17/23 4:44 p.m.

In reply to ChrisTropea :

Exactly. Now just draw on some numbers and meatballs. 

engiekev Dork
8/17/23 9:24 p.m.

They're really a solid option and can be had for very reasonable prices, even now.  

We just got this 2012 sport edition King cab. Came from having an Xterra in the past so we knew what we were in for. Fantastic value and just feels sturdy all around. Tows a Miata just fine


dannyp84 HalfDork
8/17/23 9:47 p.m.

I like my 2010 other than the fuel consumption and the associated rust with buying a vehicle from Pennsylvania. When it gets too rusty I'd like to trade it in for a desert runner as I think the locking rear diff will be good enough to get me home the few times a year we have snow, and the rest of the time the truck should ride nicer, get slightly better mpg and be less likely to cup tires than my 4x4. 

ChrisTropea Associate Editor
8/18/23 9:49 a.m.

In reply to dannyp84 :

I agree, my only complaint so far would be fuel mileage but I knew what I was getting into when I purchased a truck. Luckily for me at least, working from home helps cut down on trips to the gas station. 

DirtyBird222 PowerDork
8/18/23 10:05 a.m.

Congrats and that looks like a nice ride! I've always been a fan of the Frontiers. Just as stout as a Tacoma without the Toyota tax. And with a VQ in the engine bay, parts and resources are plentiful. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Dork
8/18/23 10:56 a.m.

I had a 1999 V6 Desert Runner Frontier back in the early aughts.  Man I loved that truck.  Aside from the abysmal gas mileage, everything else was great and it was reliable as a hammer.  One of the best vehicles I've ever owned.  The "new" ones are pretty much the same as far as I can tell.

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