A rough-and ready off-road vehicle designed with the outdoorsman and fun in mind.
By Andy Lightbody
Back in the days of the Wild West, the “frontier” represented areas without boundaries and a rough-and-ready sort of place. Today, with the 2013 Nissan Frontier Pro4X truck, those terms still fit pretty well.
And with the PRO4X package, it’s a rough and tumble truck that’s reasonably well-mannered in city/highway driving, but is most at home when off the road for virtually all hunting, fishing, and outdoor tasks.
While the vast majority of auto makers have all but abandoned the mid-size truck market with a philosophy that “bigger is better,” Nissan has stayed the course with the Frontier that was originally introduced back in 2005 and then given a pretty thorough overhaul back in 2009. Built with a choice of two wheelbase lengths, the shortened model has a chassis of just under 126 inches and an overall length of 205.5 inches. And the longed has a frame length of 139.9 inches and a 219.4 inch overall length.
While the PRO4X can be had as a 2-door King Cab, our tester sported the 4-door Crew Cab design that made it easy to load everything from 3 backseat passengers, to a ton of gear that we didn’t want to store in the cargo bed. The Frontier also sports a rather unique set of back seats that can be folded up or down in a variety of configurations, so that if you’re not carrying passengers, you’ve got almost 39 cubic feet of storage space behind the driver/front passenger seat. Not only is this good for cameras and sleeping bags, but we kept our guns and fishing tackle out of the elements as well.
With the shortened PRO4X Crew Cab, you’re going to find that instead of a 6-foot cargo bed, you have a shorter 5-foot version. At first glance, the “bobtailed bed” looks rather short by comparison to bigger trucks. However we found we had plenty of room for all our gear, and even did some quick math calculations in order to find that we could fit 2 motorcycles, 5 mountain bikes or even a short tracked snowmobile in the back end, with no problems! As an added bonus, the truck has a factory-applied spray bedliner and a Utili-Track cargo tie-down system to help you secure all your gear and keep it from bouncing around.
As an added bonus/option the PRO4X can be ordered with a roof rack for tying down additional gear. Not only does it add to the styling of the truck, it’s a practical outdoorsman option as well.
While a smaller 4-cylinder engine (2.5 liter) is offered in some of the other models of the Frontier for this year, the carryover powerplant for the PRO4X is the 4.0 liter V6 that pushes out enough horsepower and torque to rival the power of many V8s found in full-size trucks. Rated at 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque, the PRO4X is quick, responsive and has plenty of power for city/highway cruising, and lots of power when its time to hit the trails for a remote hunting or fishing spot.
On an elk hunt this past season, we let two of our friends (both Toyota truck owners) take the PRO4X deep into the woods to retrieve a downed bull, and over an old goldmine mule trail that was anything but user friendly. When they got back to camp with their elk, both said the off road ride, thanks to a ruggedly designed suspension system that includes a sway bar, Bilstein shocks and full skid plates, was superior to their trucks! Slow speed crawls in 4×4 low both up and down the steep trails was exceptional.
Only downside to all this power and performance is that the PRO4X is rated to 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.
For 2013, the PRO4X has added a host of interior refinements—onboard Nav system; backup camera, power seats, etc. Outside of that, it remains the powerful and dependable mid-size off road cruiser that a sportsman with family members or friends and lots of gear can feel confident about when heading to the woods for a variety of outdoor adventures.