Nissan Frontier LE

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Description: Car and Driver offers exclusive car comparison tests. Here's one now: 2005 Chevy Colorado vs. 2005 Dodge Dakota, 2006 Honda Ridgeline, 2005 Nissan Frontier, 2005 Toyota Tacoma - Comparison. (Page 5)

Although the Tacoma's chassis bumped a very useful pickup to a third-place finish, the Frontier chassis carried Nissan's entry up to second.

Among the others here, the Nissan is a little short on practicality. The bed, despite having a grippy, durable coating and some useful, movable tie-down points, is only slightly larger than the small bed on the Chevy. The Frontier has the weakest back seat, too, with a nearly vertical backrest and a low, short bottom cushion that supports maybe a postage-stamp portion of your lower cheeks. It's no place to spend quality time. The only true pickup asset the Frontier has is its 6100-pound towing capacity.

But the logbook was filled with comments like "best steering of the bunch" and "the body sets in a corner and there's no excess motion." For a truck, the Frontier was remarkably frisky.

Don't look to the test results to support our logbook scribblings on this. The Frontier was the slowest through the lane-change course, and it weighs 4572 pounds, only 215 pounds less than the pudgy Dakota. It was second quickest to 60 mph, hitting the mark in 7.6 seconds, a half-second slower than the Tacoma.

But if you'd been on as many comparison tests as we have, you'd know that numbers don't tell the whole story. During a run down a curvy mountain road, the Frontier was composed, communicative, and even a little fun — a driving condition that was in short supply with this gang. And on the upward crawl to Barker Ranch, the Frontier drew nothing but praise for its sure-footedness.

As for the weight issue, chalk it up to a truckload of features. The Frontier was the only vehicle here with a leather interior, power front seats, a sunroof, and hill-descent control. It also had side and curtain airbags. The roof rack might come in handy, but it whistled with a distracting noise at any speed above 40 mph. It's a standard item that should be optional. And even with all the gear, the Frontier's as-tested price of $31,630 was $190 cheaper than the bare-bones Dakota (although at press time the Dakota offered a $2000 rebate).

So there are better utility trucks out there, but for the kind of driving you might do every day, only one vehicle is better.

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