The recent trend of stuffing crew cabs into compact pickups is great, as long as you don't really need a pickup. Most crew cab compact pickups roll out of the factory with piddling beds in the mid-50-inch range, but Nissan's new Frontier Crew Cab Long Bed gives you room for five, and a full-length (74.6 inches) cargo and toy-hungry bed. Fortunately, Nissan hasn't forgotten driving pleasure in the midst of this utilitarian makeover: The Frontier is available with a 210HP, supercharged V-6 powerplant that makes motion via a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The interior is refined and comfortable, and the Frontier sets itself apart from the pack with its tough bull nose styling. It's a great looking, great driving small truck that doesn't force you to forsake your pals for your payload.

AUDI ALLROAD QUATTRO
$41,900 - $45,000
(800) 822-2834 or www.allroad-quattro.com
Street Smarts: 10
Appetite for Chilly Adventure: 10
Style: 10
Versatility: 11
Value: 9
Strictly speaking, the allroad is not a brand-new vehicle - it was introduced last winter as an '01 model. But smitten as we are, we simply had to include it. Whether you peg the allroad as "SUV" or "station wagon" depends entirely on your perspective. (Midlife crisis purchase, with a nod to practicality? SUV, definitely. Trying to convince the significant other it's the sensible choice? Why, station wagon, obviously.) It also depends on where you set the allroad's four-level adjustable pneumatic suspension system: At the push of a button, the car rises up on its haunches to provide as much as 8.2 inches of SUV-humbling ground clearance. At speeds of more than 75 mph, it automatically settles to a highway-friendly 5.6 inches, which means the allroad is equally composed carving pavement or crawling over rock and root. And few vehicles are as sure-footed on snow-slick roads. In fact, with its generous cargo area (complete with AC power outlet), the allroad is perhaps the ultimate rig for the well-heeled ski bum. Just fold down the rear seats, and call it "home."