Our ride for the next month . . .

A little over a month ago we got a call from Lars Caldenhoven, the co-owner of PeruMotors. Lars and his partner lead long-distance motorcycle tours in South America, and also rent 4WD vehicles for self-drive journeys. They've been vendors at the Overland Expo several years running.

Lars had a problem. He was about to lead nine motorcyclists from Peru to Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego, and was to turn around immediately and lead nine more back to Peru. A support truck, a Nissan Navara, would be left in Ushuaia and had to be back in Peru by the end of February. He needed someone who could drive it, and . . . there was a question mark at the end of the sentence. Roseann had tickets booked in 15 minutes flat.

The Navara is the world-market counterpart to the Nissan Frontier sold in the U.S. Unlike Toyota's Hilux and Tacoma, however, the Navara/Frontier is essentially the same truck, including the stout, fully boxed chassis on both (listening, Toyota?) The only thing the version we just picked up has that the Frontier does not is the superb YD25DDTi four-cylinder turbodiesel*, an engine for which many Frontier owners would gleefully sell close family members into slavery. Despite 188 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 332 lb-ft of torque at a properly trucklike 2,000 rpm, it should be capable of fuel economy in the high 20s even on the back roads of Argentina, Chile, and Peru. We'll report. In the meantime, we're enjoying the Southern Pacific-like pull when the turbo kicks in at 1500 rpm or less, flattening the precipitous streets of Ushuaia. It will snap your head back and chirp the tires at 2,000 rpm in second gear.

*One thing Toyota and Nissan apparently share is a mania for dense strings of numbers to identify engines.