An Open Letter: Four Facts and Frustration

Posted on 16. Jun, 2012 by in Auto News

By Larry Edsall

Let me first of all, begin four things:

A. Last fall, there were not one, but show two Volkswagen Amarok pickup trucks at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).

Second A few weeks ago I was driving on a highway north of Detroit, and was passed by a speeding Ford Flotilla: A new fusion, a new F-150 and a new Ranger.

Third A few days ago I went back to Michigan (where I spend much of this summer) from New York (where I was at a different show). In my 2000 Nissan Frontier

4th Today I received a newsletter from SEMA informed its members about three upcoming "test sessions" with the Toyota Hilux. At a measurement session get an aftermarket product manufacturers to ensure new vehicles that products, hope that they develop properly fit and examine run correctly.

The SEMA Newsletter pointed out that the Hilux is "a vehicle frequently abroad, but not sold in the United States." The same for the Amarok and the Ranger can be said.

Which brings me back to my Frontier, which, as the above models, is a compact pickup.

Back in Arizona, where most of my driving involves testing new vehicles, spends much of his time my Frontier in my garage. And despite the many excursions into the dusty desert and rocky mountain tracks, the truck paint is in very good condition for a vehicle of its age and mileage. I've also tried to keep the interior relatively clean. In short, my truck looks so good that people are often surprised when they know how old it is to learn.

My Frontier remained mechanically sound. Arizona hot weather is hard on batteries and air conditioning components, but other than the typical brake job and how the truck has spent little time in the mechanics' care.

Nevertheless, I have to make a decision: With 200,000 miles, my Frontier a new timing belt, which should cost, as I recall between $ 1,200 and $ 1,800. Doing that investment in my truck and its aging technologies and components, or should I replace it with something newer and more up to date? And if I choose the latter, what should I choose vehicle?

Here is the problem: I like my truck, but I see no logical replacement in this country.

Nissan still makes the Frontier, but it is a larger vehicle than mine. The Frontier, like the Amarok and Hilux Ranger, a compact pickup. But the New Frontier, as well as the new Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado and Dodge Dakota recently deceased, has become a so-called intermediate-size vehicle – longer, wider and higher, and almost as long, wide and high as the full-size siblings. But if I had a truck, the longer, wider and higher than mine did, I would buy an F-150, Silverado, Ram, Titan or Tundra. Why do car manufacturers have turn their backs on the compact pickup buyers, at least in this country?

What I want – and what I need – is a compact pick-up, though, as my Frontier, with space for five people.

Sure, I'd appreciate a little more interior space than what has my 13-year old crew cab. However, my truck dimensions are just the right size for me, and if I need more space in the bed, I just fold the tailgate and flop on the bed extender. And since I'm 5-foot-8, I can just reach in my truck bed. On the other hand, I need a step stool or even a step ladder to the bed of the intermediate or full-size pickups I have test-driven access, and some of them are as long as they do not fit in my garage.

You may have noticed I have not mentioned about the Frontier powertrain. My truck has a 3.3-liter V-6 that, when new, making 170 hp and 200 pound-feet of torque. It is equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive. In typical driving, I average 19 to 21 mpg.

In the years since I bought my truck, Nissan Frontier V-6 engine to 4.0 liters, 261 hp updated and 281 pounds-feet of torque. It is bigger and stronger, and the newer engine and updated transmission, Frontier make cleaner and more economical. I want more power – for mountaineering highways west and for the times I need to connect something to my truck trailer hitch receiver – and another gear or two would mean even better fuel economy. So where is all this leave me? (And please do not make me wait for a response from a Chinese car manufacturer.)

Frustrated. That's where all this leaves me, and I doubt that I'm alone.

My guess is that there are a lot of people out there who, as I want, or need a compact pickup. And they see all these wonderfully designed new small car developed overseas that are not available in the U.S.