Full 2005 Nissan Frontier Review
What's New for 2005
The Frontier is all new for 2005. Changes include a new and more powerful V6, two new transmissions, advanced off-road systems and a larger size for better passenger comfort.
Nissan has been building trucks for the U.S. market since 1958. Now in its eighth generation of pickup offerings, the company's 2005 Frontier is the first all-new model since the pickup's last major redesign in 1998. Bigger, more powerful and bulging with muscular new lines, the 2005 Frontier now sports the big-truck swagger of the Titan full-size. Its grille is nearly identical to the bigger truck, while its exaggerated fender flares give it even more curves at each corner. The Frontier shares a number of significant features with the Titan, including an innovative spray-in bedliner, Utili-track bed channel tie-down system and fully boxed, all-steel frame. The new Frontier's wheelbase is nearly 10 inches longer than the old Frontier's for improved ride comfort and stability. The 2005 Frontier shares its suspension layout and many component designs with the Titan, including a double-wishbone front suspension and leaf spring rear suspension. The Frontier Crew Cab is identical in length to the extended-cab (King Cab) version, but a larger rear-seating area and forward-hinged rear doors make it a more flexible vehicle for family use -- at the expense of some bed space. The bed measures just under 58.6 inches in length and 61.4 inches in width -- gains of a couple of inches in either direction compared to the standard-bed version of the old crew cab. Interior storage space is also an important consideration when you're buying a pickup, and both the King and Crew Cab feature reconfigurable rear seats. Note that the new Frontier is not available in a regular-cab version. In a sign that Nissan is serious about dominating the compact truck market, the Frontier's top engine is a 4.0-liter V6 with 265 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. With that kind of power onboard, the Frontier boasts a maximum tow rating of over 5,500 pounds, according to Nissan. A 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine is standard on the base Frontier King Cab model. Inside the cabs, ergonomics and materials quality are much improved over the '04 Frontier. Also offered are supplemental front-seat side-impact airbags and available supplemental curtain airbags for side-impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. With a tough new look, innovative features and big horsepower under the hood, the new Frontier should provide serious competition for the new trucks from Dodge and Toyota. This is good news for compact pickup buyers, who now have plenty of worthy candidates to test-drive when it comes time to shop.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Frontier comes in two body styles -- extended cab (known as King Cab) and crew cab. Available trim levels include the base S model and uplevel SE. The base S comes with only basic amenities, along with front bucket seats and folding rear jump seats. The SE adds more features, including air conditioning; a CD stereo; power windows, locks and mirrors; alloy wheels; and cruise control. Leather upholstery and a 300-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo are optional. Compared to the King Cab, the Crew Cab has a larger cabin with expanded rear-seat accommodations as well as a pair of conventional rear doors that offer easier access to those seats.
Powertrains and Performance
A 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine is standard on the base Frontier King Cab model. A 4.0-liter V6, which produces a stout 265 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, is standard in all other models. The V6 design includes Continuous Valve Timing Control (C-VTC) and Nissan variable Induction Control System (NICS). Transmission choices include a standard six-speed manual gearbox and an optional five-speed automatic. Frontier 4x4 models include a shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system with 2Hi/4Hi/4Lo modes operated by an electronically controlled, part-time transfer case.
Four-wheel disc antilock brakes are standard on all Frontiers. Optional are front-seat side-impact airbags and curtain airbags that provide side-impact and rollover protection for front and rear outboard passengers. The Frontier has not yet been crash tested.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Frontier's cabin offers straightforward controls, comfortable front seats and an attractive design. The larger overall size results in much improved passenger room, but the overall materials quality is still average. Like the Titan, the Frontier offers a utility bed package that includes a factory-applied spray-in bedliner and the Utili-track tie-down system. The Utili-track system provides cargo hauling flexibility through the use of five special "C" cross-section rails mounted in the bed (two channels in the bed floor, and one each on the bed side rails and the bed header panel). Removable utility cleats slide into the channels, providing a wide range of attachment points for securing cargo. In addition to the tie-down cleats, a full range of accessories are offered for use with the channel system, including bed dividers, sliding cargo trays, modular storage units and bike racks.
The newfound power of the V6 Frontier is a far cry from the wheezy engines of last year's model. Step on the throttle in this truck and you get instant results, thanks to plenty of low-end torque and well-tuned transmissions. Ride and handling is improved as well; although, it's still a bit bouncy as you might expect from a compact truck. Advanced off-road systems like downhill assist control and hill start assist make off-road models capable performers in the rough stuff.