Often overlooked in favor of the popular Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier is a stout pickup with plenty to offer buyers who don’t need the latest and greatest features. Prior to its 2022 redesign, the Frontier had been only lightly updated since its debut in 1998. The most significant of those updates was in 2005 with the introduction of the 4.0-liter V6 backed by a five-speed automatic transmission. That refresh also signaled the end of the regular cab in favor of extended and crew cabs. Solid body-on-frame construction means the Frontier has both good towing capacity and off-road performance. Its interior is similar in size to competitors, and its design is typical of trucks in this category, with large, functional knobs and dials rather than small buttons. Later models added new tech features such as upgraded audio systems and navigation, but the Frontier has never led its class in those categories.
The Honda Ridgeline is a great alternative to more traditional midsize trucks. It packs capability into a very refined package. First introduced in 2006, a second-generation model arrived in 2017. The later years (2013-15) of the first-generation models are likely to have fewer miles on them, and an uptick in sales means there are more used Ridgelines available. All have a standard V6 engine, all-wheel drive, and an automatic transmission. The interior is well-designed and comfortable for both the driver and passengers. A 5,000-pound tow rating means it’s capable enough to pull a small boat, yet the ride feels more like an SUV than a stiffly sprung pickup.
The Chevy Colorado is another truck that lives in the shadow of the Toyota Tacoma, yet offers many of the same capabilities and features. Introduced in 2003, it didn’t receive a major redesign for more than a decade. The early Colorados were capable trucks, but not particularly enjoyable to drive. The suspensions were soft, brakes were average, and steering vague. A V8 engine was briefly available, but it wasn’t any more powerful than a modern V6. The second-generation model in 2015 was a more refined package that offered a sturdy V6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and multiple suspension setups. A diesel engine was available in 2016, but those trucks will carry a premium price. Same goes for Colorados equipped with the ZR2 off-road package. A midgrade Colorado LT is a better value. It has plenty of features, a good ride, and plenty of capability for a truck of its size.