Nissan Frontier

The mid-size 2008 Nissan Frontier pickup comes in two cab styles, King Cab and Crew Cab. The King Cab has smaller, rear-hinged rear doors, and the Crew Cab has full-size, front-hinged rear doors and a larger rear-seat area. The King Cab is available in a single bed length, but the Crew Cab is now available in standard bed and long bed versions; the new long bed is 13 inches longer.

The Frontier shares its basic layout, including the suspension and other components, with the larger Titan pickup. The suspension combines a double-wishbone front setup with a solid-axle and leaf springs at the rear.

The base XE and SE Frontier King Cab 2WD trucks have a 152-horsepower, 2.5L four-cylinder engine. All other Frontiers are powered by a 4.0L V6 engine, making 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque. The predominantly aluminum, double-overhead-cam engine has continuously variable valve timing, variable induction, and a number of attributes for smooth operation and efficiency. Four-cylinder models have a five-speed manual transmission standard, while V6 models get six speeds. A five-speed automatic is available on both.

On V6 models, a four-wheel drive system is available, featuring electronically controlled shift-on-the-fly engagement and a low range. The 4WD models also bring a four-wheel limited-slip system. Hill Descent Control (HDC) helps maintain a steady slow speed while descending especially steep slopes, while Hill Start Assist (HSA) allows a smooth, controlled start on a steep incline without roll-back; both features are optional.

There's also an off-road Nismo edition, available in King Cab or Crew Cab versions with either 2WD or 4WD, which brings Bilstein performance shocks and an electronic-locking rear differential. Ground clearance is increased, with vital hardware tucked within the frame rails. The Nismo also includes skid plates and 16-inch off-road tires.

The Frontier has several innovative storage options, including storage boxes under the rear seats, a large center console, a dual-compartment glove box, and several power points. The Utili-track system, which brings removable utility tie-down cleats and secure attaching channels, is available and especially useful for securing heavy cargo that doesn't take up the entire bed.

Front-seat side air bags are optional, as are side-curtain air bags that cover front and rear occupants.

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Editors' First Take

Overlanding is a trend that's sweeping the off-road world these days. People are kitting out their trucks (and vans!) with everything they need to hit the trails and camp out in the wild. The problem? All that gear can get really expensive really quickly. Enter Nissan's Destination Frontier, a study in how folks on a budget can get in on the overlanding craze.

Nissan claims the one-off Destination Frontier can be had for right around $40,000. But that's only if you start with the most basic Frontier: an S trim with a King Cab configuration, rear-wheel drive, a four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission, which starts at $19,290. However, the build you see here uses a midgrade $30,240 SV Crew Cab model with four-wheel drive (which is absolutely necessary for overlanding), plus the more powerful 4.0-liter V6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. It also has the $995 Midnight Edition appearance package. So if you figure the Destination upfit adds about $20,000 to the bottom line, that puts this truck up over $50,000. Again, this is a one-off build, but that's definitely something to consider.

The gear

The most important thing you can add to a vehicle for off-road durability is tires. Here, Nissan added an excellent set of 33-inch Nitto Trail Grappler off-road tires wrapped around 17-inch American Racing wheels. These tires have enough sidewall to withstand rocks and punctures, and meaty tread to grind through most terrain.

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