I just stepped out of a 2012 Nissan Frontier and as with every experience I’ve ever had with a pickup, small or large, I always end up thinking that I want one.
Over the weekend, I lugged rocks and tree branches, five adults, picnic gear and not once was I wanting for more of anything. Well, that’s not entirely true. Here I go again knocking on Honda’s door…
The only thing I longed for with the Frontier was an in-bed trunk as found in the clever yet unloved Honda Ridgeline
. With five people on board, trivial items like bags, spare shoes and chairs were tied down in the bed, exposed to the elements. Had I been with a Ridgeline, most of these items would have been stored in the trunk.
|2012 Nissan Frontier (Photo: Mathieu St-Pierre)
Could it be that Honda is, once again, ahead of itself? I clearly recall thinking, along with like-minded auto journos at the launch of Honda’s first pickup, that every truck builder was going to imitate the Ridgeline’s in-bed trunk. The truck was launched in early 2005; it’s been seven years and still no copycats.
Regardless, it never fails that a pickup quickly becomes a useful friend. If not that, it’ll make you new friends in very little time. There’s no denying that a pickup is more practical than the sum of its parts. These days, these rigs are not only capable but comfortable and quite accommodating. The three adult females sitting in the rear of the Frontier made fewer complaints about ride comfort than they had when I tested the 2013 Mazda CX-5
. That’s saying lots.
As well, with trucks like the Ford F-150
ever more luxurious, it’s no small wonder why their popularity is not falling as we might expect, given the price of petrol. Ford figured the guzzling thing out by slapping a pair of turbos on a V6 and calling it EcoBoost. GM’s still pushing hybrid versions of the Silverado and Sierra, and diesel variants for non heavy-duty pickups have been promised. It is clear to me that pickups are not going anywhere, except perhaps in more North American driveways.
Given the draw and usefulness of these trucks, I think they have a greater role to play in our future automotive landscape than many might expect. Fuel economy will be addressed with smaller turbocharged engines, electric powertrains and more hybrid variations.
As they continue to evolve, their utilitarian nature will remain but they will increasingly do a better job at being an everyday family vehicle.
My cloudy, mostly opaque crystal ball says that pickups may become the next family vehicle of choice.
First came the station wagon, then the minivan, followed by the crossover and next, the pickup? Put a cap over the bed on a crew cab model and consider the vastness of the trunk, room for five, ability to tow almost anything and capable of going almost anywhere. What more could we want?