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dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
12/9/21 11:56 a.m.

For the last few months I've been looking for something I can daily drive in the winter, but that will tow ~ 4-5k lbs now that I finally have a trailer. I want to stop missing events because they're far away and not have to worry if I break at the track. I'll probably be towing 400 mi round trip about 6 times a year. I was looking at half ton Silverados, but they cost a ton if they're not rusty around here. I like the idea of a mid size truck since it's easier to live with as a daily in my area. Yesterday I drove this particular Frontier:

https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/557120e9-c509-4483-884e-9939de326ae1/?aff=atempest&CMP=atempest&utm_source=AutoTempest&utm_medium=TRP&utm_campaign=atempest

I know the owner of this dealership and he's been pretty fair and honest with my parents in the past. I liked the truck better than I expected on the test drive, and the 4.0 felt particularly strong, but I'd have my mechanic do a PPI before I agree to anything. The truck is missing a trim piece and has a cracked tail light, so the owner told me he'd do 13k plus tax. This seems pretty much in line with similar trucks on auto tempest, which is to say still kinda high for what you get, but I don't think that's gonna change for a while. If I don't realistically intend to tow more than 4k 95% of the time, will this truck feel like plenty? I liked that it has the back seat for dry storage, the track system in the bed, and the suspension feels tight. I did wish the driver seat had a flip down arm rest, but the fact that is has adjustable lumbar is a plus. Should the steering feel kinda heavy on these? 

Tomorrow I'm supposed to look at a regular cab 4.8 Silverado, which has no tow receiver but would probably do the job of towing better despite being 2wd. It's also cheaper, but wouldn't have a rear seat for storage or an extra couple of friends. Thoughts?

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/9/21 12:03 p.m.

That's a good lookin' truck! 

however, unless you NEED the outdoor bed space, a similarly sized SUV will save you thousands. Quad cab trucks are like Hansel (soo hott right now) and they are really pulling a premium. 

 

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/9/21 12:08 p.m.

Just as an example (and I dont think its in the same geographical area, but still)

https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/5119ccb9-e1cb-477b-96d3-b749acbf7b6e/

2010 pathfinder, similar miles, listed for 11k. I don't know but I assume that the pathfinder and the frontier are very similar size/powertrain/capability/etc. 

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
12/9/21 12:24 p.m.
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:

That's a good lookin' truck! 

however, unless you NEED the outdoor bed space, a similarly sized SUV will save you thousands. Quad cab trucks are like Hansel (soo hott right now) and they are really pulling a premium. 

 

I'd like the bed so that I can finally take my dirt bike somewhere to ride it instead of looking at it in the basement. I thought it would also be nice for spare tools/wheels instead of building a tool box on the trailer to cramming them inside, but I'd consider a clean suv as well.

ggarrard
ggarrard Reader
12/9/21 12:25 p.m.

Have the identical truck... 2015 vintage... and towed about 3500lbs about the same distance pre-pandemic... This summer's towing was restricted to distances of about 150 to 200 miles round-trip... truck has no problem with the weight provided you have trailer brakes.... I feel my boat (3000lb) more than the travel trailer.  And it like it's gas when towing (usually in the low to mid teens).

Edit...  just noticed the Frontier is a short box...  might be too short for your dirt bike.  I found a significant difference in ride quality between the short and long wheelbase (smoother) versions... so opted for the long box... 

Gordon 

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
12/9/21 12:27 p.m.

In reply to ggarrard :

The trailer does have brakes, though the Frontier listed above has a receiver but no wiring, I'd have to do that installation. 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
12/9/21 1:07 p.m.

In one of the older Frontier brochures Nissan had this picture of a Frontier towing a 240Z.  So Nissan encourages this activity.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
12/9/21 1:15 p.m.

I see no issue with using that truck whatsoever. I don't know the reliability ratings for the era Frontier but I'm assuming they are good.

APEowner
APEowner SuperDork
12/9/21 1:29 p.m.

Whatever you get put brakes on that trailer!  It's a legal requirement in a lot of places and the smart thing to do everywhere else.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
12/9/21 1:31 p.m.

I'd been considering a D40 for basically the same purpose, with the slushbox model the transmission heat exchanger is a known failure point and the fix is to add an aftermarket oil-to-air trans cooler. HD tie rods and rod ends would be a good idea for offroad use, otherwise they're pretty reliable. The trouble is that it's hard to fit even a fairly light sports car and a trailer into the 3500lb towing capacity - in the brochure pic above, the only way that payload would be within capacity is if the trailer is made of at least aluminum or ideally carbon fiber, so you'd need to budget for an aluminum trailer as well.

The SUV version of this pickup, the Nissan Armada, can be had for less and now that I look it up, they actually had a higher towing capacity of 9klbs+, so that actually looks like a better choice.

Edit: Turns out the V6+ D40s have more towing capacity and the Armada is Titan-based (thus much thirstier)

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera Dork
12/9/21 1:32 p.m.

I have a 2013 SV king cab.  I wish mine was a crew because the king back seat is too small.  I paid $8K last year when it was at 97K miles in similar condition in and out as this one.  The steering is a little heavy at times.  Power has not been a problem.  No complaints so far other than size.  I have a tonneau cover and the cage thing that keeps things in the bed with the gate open if interested.  I'm in Charleston.

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
12/9/21 1:34 p.m.

In reply to Apis Mellifera :

Which Charleston? I'm interested.

ggarrard
ggarrard Reader
12/9/21 1:41 p.m.

In reply to GameboyRMH :

The SUV version of the Frontier is the Pathfinder with 6k tow rating, the Armada is the Titan equivalent hence the 9k tow rating...  

And I've towed my Zs without any concerns...

Gordon 

 

nocones
nocones UberDork
12/9/21 1:48 p.m.

Also I'm pretty sure all V6 4x4 frontiers have a 6100lb towing capacity.  3500lbs is the 4cyl and I believe the 2WD king cab is 6500lbs.  

 

I've towed 4500lbs with a Nissan Xterra (same engine/chassis) and it was fine.  Felt a bit more powerful then the Tacoma V6 I towed with in the past.  It's will always be worse then towing with a Full size with 8000+lb towing capacities but for occasional towing of up to 6000lbs it will be fine.  

ChrisTropea
ChrisTropea Associate Editor
12/9/21 2:02 p.m.

I have a 2015 Frontier Desert Runner crew cab with the auto and love it. I have only towed my Beetle on an open trailer around town but it handled it great. I bought the truck in March of this year and have no regrets other than I wish it had the factory bed tie down rails.  

jharry3
jharry3 Dork
12/9/21 2:12 p.m.

This is out of the owner's manual for my 2019 Frontier.  The manual also states that trailer brakes are required for trailers over 3500 lbs.

ggarrard
ggarrard Reader
12/9/21 2:23 p.m.

In reply to ChrisTropea :

Chris...Check local wrecking yards for the factory tie down rails and clamps.   I found a set for a friend's Titan this way....   

I'm also watching for Titan mirrors as they bolt onto the Frontier and are bigger/better for trailering.

Gordon 

Vracer111
Vracer111 HalfDork
12/9/21 2:30 p.m.

In reply to dannyp84 :

For a 2WD King cab/long bed combo I know it tows very well up to ~5klb for an open car trailer & car with good suspension (have beefed up aftermarket setup with firmer ride and slight lift). Towed right @ 5k worth of car & trailer ~3k miles round trip to pick up the MR2 I use to have.  A 2-3k Enclosed cargo trailer will be much worse to tow. I recently moved to Arizona with my new 16'×7' enclosed cargo trailer... much more susceptible to wind from the side profile and much reduced fuel mileage (single digit mpg {7-8} verses teens {~13} at interstate speeds) from that front cross sectional area. I'd much rather tow a 5k lb open trailer & car combo than a small 2k lb enclosed trailer (like a 12x6).

Electric brake control is a must of course... wouldn't tow any trailer other than small open utility one without such a system.

Fairly easy, no drama tow:

Much more difficult of a tow even though ~1/2 the weight - sectional area and side profile makes huge impact on towing:

The SUV version of a Frontier would be an Xterra... it's to the Frontier as the old 4-runners were to the Tacomas.... same frame/drivetrain just SUV body. One cool thing many don't know about the Frontier... swapping to a Titan V8 is as plug and play as you can get... it's a very common swap for those wanting more power...chassis mounting is the same between Frontier & Titan. Suspension is direct swap over as well - instant long travel upgrade going to Titan suspension setup.

That said the 2WD Silverado is a very good towing truck and will get about same fuel mileage as a Frontier... my brother has one (crew cab version). You just have to live with the cheap feeling GM interior... but it's a good workhorse of a truck. Frontier is more of a sporty truck with better offroad potential, but the Silverado will tow better and haul bigger loads... and cost you no more in gas.

Oh, and the stock headlights suck on Frontiers...probably the thing most complained about them. Upgrade to Katana LED bulbs at minimum... the Diode Dynamic SS3 Sport fog lights I have installed way outperfom the stock headlights (they work well with the HID conversion I have though...)

Also the Cooper Discovery AT3 4S is a great combo on/offroad AT tire... nearly quiet as a highway tread but way more capable offroad (just have to watch them in the mud... will get slick quick, but dirt, gravel, sand they are great). I went to the larger 4WD stock size (265/75-16) and ride quality is way better than the stock 2WD size (265/70-16) Crugen HT51 that were on the stock SV wheels...much smoother ride with reduced impacts from rough surfaces/sharp bumps.

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
12/9/21 3:43 p.m.

In reply to Vracer111 :

Can you also swap in bigger brakes from a Titan?

triumph7
triumph7 HalfDork
12/9/21 10:31 p.m.

FWIW, after my Ranger got rear ended I had a Frontier as a rental.  Both were 2019 models but the Ranger feels like it's ten model years newer.  I'd have to look up the tow ratings though the Ranger has had no problems pulling anything I've had behind it.

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/9/21 11:07 p.m.

I've towed a few different vehicles on a 2,000lb 18ft open deck car trailer with my 2012 Frontier and it gets the job done.  I wanted a manual truck which this one is, but the automatic would likely be the better match for towing.  The manual and pro-4x trucks have a different rear axle design shared with the titan and I added a finned differential cover from a titan to my truck for some cheap insurance.  These axles can have issues with axle seals and I've replaced both on mine, but they do require removing the pressed on bearing for access.  Other than that, it really hasn't required more than regular maintenance. 

I try to keep my car+trailer weight around 5,000lbs total to keep some buffer for spares and gear in the truck itself.  I've never had a lack of power, but I do find keeping it above 2,200rpm on the highway makes for less shifting, must be where the torque curve starts building.  In the mountains of PA/MD/WV it gets quite the work out, and I would prefer some more braking power.  Like others have said some titan parts are shared, but the brakes aren't one of them, different bolt patterns as well.  However, the V8 Pathfinder does have some parts that should bolt on, I was just too cheap to get 17" wheels since I've already got two sets of 16" wheels with good tires.

For a few times a year I'd go for it, they're very durable trucks and building them for 15 years has exposed any weaknesses they have.  If you want to tow more often I'd go up a step to a half ton truck.

 

From PA to Canada for a track day at Toronto Motorsports Park with my old Integra

PA to NY for a RallyCross in my $250 Solara

Trying out the subaru thing with bonus GRM content all around.

 

dannyp84
dannyp84 Reader
12/10/21 9:55 a.m.

In reply to Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) :

You've towed just about everywhere I plan to, and all the places I've gone in the past for track events, including Toronto! (That's an easier trip, since once you get toward Erie everything is flat). Looks like the Frontier is a fine idea if I can get over the sticker shock, but it is half the price of a new one.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/10/21 11:50 p.m.
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) said:

 

 

PA to NY for a RallyCross in my $250 Solara

 

Trying out the subaru thing with bonus GRM content all around.

 

I spy me! :)

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/11/21 7:56 a.m.
GameboyRMH said:

I'd been considering a D40 for basically the same purpose, with the slushbox model the transmission heat exchanger is a known failure point and the fix is to add an aftermarket oil-to-air trans cooler.

I think that was only an issue on the very early models of that generation. IIRC, they had the radiator/trans cooler design figured out by about '09. 

It's been a long time since I had my '11 Pro-4X. Never towed with it, but it was a great little truck, aside from the cheap Nissan interior. Although the Rockford Fosgate stereo packed plenty of punch.

03Panther
03Panther UltraDork
12/11/21 9:14 a.m.
dannyp84 said:

Tomorrow I'm supposed to look at a regular cab 4.8 Silverado, which has no tow receiver but would probably do the job of towing better despite being 2wd. It's also cheaper, but wouldn't have a rear seat for storage or an extra couple of friends. Thoughts?

There is a persistent ol' wives tale that 4wd tows better than 2wd... the opposite is actually true!
Unless you are pulling a boat out of the water up a rampsurprise ... or towing in mud and other off road stuff. 
That being said, my Toyota 3.4 V6 towed much better than my wife's 4.8 chebby. 
We were not impressed with that engine. Yes the Silverado chassis would be more stable with weight than the Fronteer, but over all, not what your looking for. 
Open trailer vs enclosed (aerodynamics) makes a difference as well. 

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